Sunday, 1 May 2011

That feels better...

The perfect tonic for a bad couple of months. There's not much of a better feeling in football than beating Man Utd. It would have been even better had we still been in the title race. But today is not a day for complaining about what could have been, if you can't enjoy days like this, what days are you going to enjoy in football?

I was extremely nervous about this game and came very close to not watching it, but after pressure from my Dad and the feeling of obligation to watch it, I took my seat just before Jack Wilshere shot wide. Arsenal dominated possession in the first half and started very well. Theo Walcott's crossing impressed me a lot and so did Arsenal generally early on. We should have had a penalty and Vidic a red card when he blatantly handled Walcott's cross, and heroic defending from Sagna kept it at 0-0.

But Arsenal were always in control thus far and Aaron 'Rambo' Ramsey slotted in beautifully in the 56th minute to give Arsenal a deserved lead. An ironic goalscorer considering he was the stand- in for the injured Fabregas. However it was after this goal where Arsenal impressed me the most.

The grit and determination was there for all to see. (Apart from Martin Tyler of course who was dieing for Man Utd to equalise.) They positioned themselves well and sat back and did the dirty stuff when they needed to. Wilshere and Ramsey stayed disciplined, the wingers worked back well, particularly Arshavin who impressed me a lot. Song was absolutely colossal, harsssing and houdning Rooney and not letting him have a say on the game at all. The only times Rooney could do anything was when he dropped back so deep he wasn't a danger. This was nice to see as it was good that Arsenal came up with a very clever and effective game-plan to stop Man Utd's danger man. Hopefully we will have a game plan to defend the obvious threat from the knuckle sraggers next week. Song's overall performance was excellent, he didn't just shackle Rooney, he defended well against anybody who came up against him. He stayed very disciplined protecting our back four, which was especially good to see as he stopped Man Utd counter attacks a lot (which is how they beat us here last season), putting in some great challenges and worked very hard. His distribution was also good and his desire was clearly visible today, he sums up Arsenal today.

It was great to see the team being so solid, even when Djourou hobbled off. Squillaci came on and stayed solid alongside an excellent Koscielny who has been at his best in the big games this season. Everybody was fantastic after the goal today, being so un- Arsenal like in their defending, hoofing it clear when need be, staying disciplined and getting men behind the ball and defending set pieces well. We have seen plenty of glimpses of this though this season, don't pay too much attention to the pessimists who only comment on Arsenal when it's negative. I've seen plenty of good defending this season too. We have some very under-rated defenders.

What also brings a smile to my face is how much respect Man Utd show us. Or, more to the point, how much they fear us. Everytime they play us, they pack the midfield and daren't attack us. OK, it has been successful recently but it just goes to show how talented our youngsters are as an experienced midfield that included the likes of Park and Carrick and an experienced defence that included Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra backed off and were too scared to come at us. Ramsey, Song and Wilshere dominated the midfield and out- witted Man Utd's throughout the game, not letting them bully them and kept possession very well. Oh, and one of them grabbed the winner.

This win keeps us comfortably in third and gives us a chance of catching Chelsea. If their game against Man Utd ends in a draw next week and Arsenal beat Stoke, who knows- there might be whispers of a late chance of the title. You never know.

Match ratings:

Szczesny 8
Sagna 9
Djourou 7
Koscielny 8
Clichy 7
Song 9
Wilshere 8
Rambo 8
Walcott 8
van Persie 7
Nasri 6

Arshavin 7
Squillaci 7
Eboue 7

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