Sunday, 26 February 2012

Putting Them Back In Their Place

What a game. I mean, really, WHAT A GAME! I was at work of course, which fucks me off because yet again I miss out on an epic victory, perhaps the most intense and important North London derby in decades. But I did manage to follow it online, thanks to a nice combination of BBC Football's live text and Arseblog's live blog. When I saw we'd gone behind after just 4 minutes I gotta admit my head dropped. I thought, "Here we go again, fucking Arsenal bottling it in the big game, AGAIN". When we went 2-0 down? I pretty much gave up all hope, walked away from the computer and started to contemplate an extended absence away from football for a bit, at least until the 'Wenger Out' shitstorm and negative vibes would end. Thankfully this plan can never be put into action because Arsenal showed some resilience, some real character and emotion and fought back. To go 2-0 down and then come back to stick 5 in a row past our rivals, that's what a local derby is all about. Today's 5-2 victory is so amazing because this is exactly what we Arsenal fans needed, a massive boost after a pretty miserable couple of weeks. A historic win and even though we're still 7 points adrift from Spurs in third place, does anyone care right now? We beat the dirty Spuds 5-2! They can stick their third place up their ass!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Signing Off In Style

Thierry Henry played out his last game in the Premier League in the only way Thierry Henry knows how: he brought some of his trademark 'va-va-voom' to the Stadium of Light, scoring the winner deep into injury time to secure Arsenal all three points against a stubborn Sunderland side. After Wenger revealed yesterday that Henry will be returning to New York on the 16th February and that his loan will expire after 6 weeks, the match this afternoon took on an added importance. And what a way to say goodbye from the legend.

I'm just about to settle down for Match of the Day and I've been excited all evening to watch it. I'm so glad Arsenal managed to turn this afternoon's game around, it showed real spirit and resilience from the team. It began to look like another fruitless trip to the North, especially after Sunderland's James Mclean had put the Black Cats in the lead with 20 minutes left to play. But Arsenal didn't collapse and succumb to defeat like they've been known to in the past. Within 5 minutes, substitute Aaron Ramsey had us back on level terms, and the Gunners were back in business. With normal time coming to a close, I'd have gladly taken the draw on what was always going to be a difficult game. Ever since Martin O'Neill took over, Sunderland have been well and truly rejuvenated under his charge and are a completely different side to the team we faced at the Emirates in October. However, Thierry Henry didn't feel like settling for a draw and found himself on the end of an Arshavin cross deep into injury time to volley home the winner and send the Arsenal faithful home happy, complete with another vintage Thierry Henry moment to remember forever.

The added bonus from today's win? We finally capitalised on Chelsea's run of form, as they slipped up again at Everton, losing 2-0 to the Toffees. Arsenal leap-frogged Chelsea into 4th place and now is the time to start a good run to try and secure that crucial position.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for another priceless memory Thierry.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Routing The Rovers

Apologies for not posting since the Leeds FA Cup game. In all honesty, we've been bloody awful since, with a single 3-2 win over Aston Villa the only shining light amongst all the darkness of January. Losing to Swansea, Man United and squandering a billion chances at Bolton haven't really motivated me to get on here and blog. Until today, when we thrashed Blackburn 7-1, and all of a sudden I feel like writing something (typical eh?)

Finally having a weekend off work helped a lot. This was my first Saturday at home in forever (I still have to work tomorrow though) and I was over the moon when I saw Arsenal had a 1pm kickoff. After getting a good stream for the game, it wasn't long before the Gunners settled any early nerves. Van Persie arrived in the box to tap in Walcott's neat cross to make it 1-0 after only 80 seconds or so. Arsenal didn't relax after taking the lead, dominating possession and narrowly missed out on increasing the lead a few times. However after half an hour, Blackburn finally found themselves in our half of the pitch, when a long punt down field earned Rovers a free kick just outside the box, perfect for Blackburn's set-piece specialist Morten Gamst Pedersen. It turned out it was a bit too perfect as the Norwegian international curled in a delicious effort which Szczesny could do absolutely nothing about. I was furious. It really was a wonderful free kick but at the time I couldn't appreciate that. I was livid that, again, typical fucking Arsenal, we gave away the lead to a team destined for relegation when we'd been all over them from the moment the game kicked off. The first little mistake we made and we were punished and I felt like it was going to turn into one of "those" games yet again.

But Arsenal responded, and in some fashion. With a slick passing move reminiscent of the 03/04 Invincibles, the Gunners broke with pace, with the sublime Alex Song splitting the defence and picking out Theo Walcott with a sumptuous pass. Theo's quick first-time pass found van Persie for another easy tap-in and it was 2-1 Arsenal. Did the home side sit back and relax after regaining the lead? Certainly not, as it was 3-1 Arsenal before you knew it. A beautiful reverse pass from captain van Persie found the onrushing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the penalty area, who calmly took it round Rovers' keeper Paul Robinson and slotted home for his first Premier League goal. The Emirates was euphoric, the rout was on, and the team were firing on all cylinders. It got even better for Arsenal soon after their third goal when Blackburn defender Gael Givet received a straight red card for lunging in on van Persie. At first glance I didn't think the tackle warranted a straight red but replays showed Givet going in two-footed on van Persie and according to the football laws that's a definite no-no these days. Arsenal were already looking rampant but Givet's dismissal put the game beyond all doubt: Blackburn had no chance from then on.

The second half saw Wenger's men continue to assert their dominance and it wasn't long before they added yet another goal. After Blackburn failed to clear an Arsenal corner properly, the ball fell nicely on the edge of the penalty area to Mikel Arteta, who smashed the ball home to make it 4-1. Three minutes later and the Arsenal faithful were celebrating again: Theo Walcott dribbled in from the right, drawing defenders in before releasing the ball to Oxlade-Chamberlain. The "Ox in the Box" took a single touch before dispatching the ball past the stranded Robinson to make it 5-1. Not one to be left out, van Persie showed up minutes later to complete his hat trick, sweeping home a delicious low cross from the excellent Coquelin to make it 6-1. A classy goal for a classy player, the goal gave van Persie the match ball and his second Premier League hat trick this season (the other coming against Chelsea in that memorable 5-3 win).

Ahead by five goals, Wenger brought on some substitutes to rest a couple of key players like Song and Koscielny. Thierry Henry made another appearance in the red and white, to the home fans' delight of course, replacing the in-form Oxlade-Chamberlain to much applause. Unfortunately the substitutions seemed to take the rhythm out of the game, as very little happened for the last half an hour or so. But not before Henry stamped his impression on it. With seconds left in the match and the stadium already emptying, Henry dispossessed the Blackburn defence before playing a one-two with van Persie, who could have had his fourth goal of the afternoon if he so wished. Instead he played it back to Henry, whose shot deflected off Scott Dann to make it 7-1 and give Thierry his second goal since rejoining the club and his first Premier League goal in five years (his last being away to Middlesbrough in 2007). It was a perfect ending to a near-perfect afternoon of football.

This type of performance was desperately needed to regain some confidence in the squad. It's been a while since we really thrashed someone and it was beautiful to watch us tear apart Blackburn so easily. A good win and nice to see so many gorgeous goals. A few more games like this please Mr Wenger, if you don't mind.

Thanks for reading.