It’s a massive dent, but not a full crash…
So our title push looks to have suffered a major set-back yesterday afternoon following that draw at Birmingham. It was the most annoying game I’ve seen us play in quite a while and the fact that we could have won this game by almost three goals is what pains me. We played a good game yesterday, a very good game but we just lacked that killing effect, that ruthless finishing that has been attributed to Chelsea and United. We started this game 2 points behind United on top and needed to win this one and our remaining 6 to have a shot, but yesterday’s result sees our hopes fading away quick.
Arsene kept his word and started Sol to partner Song at the back, Abou replaced him in midfield, Sagna returned and I got my wish when Theo and Rosicky started on either side of Nikky B who was a doubt. I was licking my lips at the thought of having Nasri and Arshavin on the bench as they could give us enough firepower if required. I did not know they did not have enough fire in their armoury. Arsenal began the game on the front foot and should have taken the lead as early as the third minute but Rosicky miscued his shot from just inside the box. The onus was on us to get the 3 points today especially as United and Chelski were to meet next week. Theo looked like our best chance on the counter as he was continually given the license to torment.
Birmingham had held both United and Chelski to draws at home and were well intent on adding us to that list. They rose to the challenge, well Jerome mostly as he troubled Sol all afternoon with his strength and pace, and he should have put them ahead only a smart save from Big Al stopped that. At the other end, Theo should have done better after reacting fastest to a Cesc through ball and sensing Hart off his line went for goal but Hart stood firm and parried. Again Theo was gifted space in the box after a punt from Rosicky but Hart was again on hand to deny us. Jerome at this point was bullying the Arsenal defence and won a lot of free-kicks. This was the tone of a very drab and frustrating game. Sandwiched in between all this were a lot of hard crunching tackles that went unpunished with the most notable one resulting in a slight knock to our skipper who he stayed on as the referee blew for half time.
The second 45mins started the way the first ended, with Arsenal creating chance after chance. Cesc who had been hitherto quiet started to get into the game. He was stringing pass after pass but the goal just wouldn’t come. Arsene had to bring on Arsha and Samir to give us a bit of cutting edge and they sparked life into our attack immediately. We were attacking Birmingham from all angles now and on 80minutes, we got what we needed when clever movements around the box gave Samir the space to strike the ball into the bottom corner with such devastating effect. I jumped for joy and felt relieved thinking of when the second would come (yeah, that’s how good we were).
One moment though changed the whole game. It wasn’t from Birmingham, it was from us. We were a goal up and Samir was in acres of space, right in front of the keeper, on his favourite foot, with the net begging to ‘cry’. What did he do? My man chose to cut back with no one in sight. I was surprised and thought for once if we had signed Marc Vivien Foe and whom nobody else saw. It was poor decision of the highest order and we pad for it when Big Al flapped a simple Kevin Phillips’ effort in the 92nd minute into his own net. The softest goal I have since…ok, since Fabianski against Porto. Now, I didn’t know which was worse, Almunia’s blunder or Nasri’s pass. A 92nd minute equaliser will readily pass for a defeat to me. I was stunned and short of words, we had controlled this game for long periods and practically threw the match away. 9jabred, my very emotional colleague would have definitely cried had he watched the match, but he missed due to unavoidable commitments.
So we’re 4 points behind United who made easy work of Bolton but perhaps the result of the weekend was at Stamford Bridge where Chelski destroyed Villa 7-1. The fact that both of them won only added salt to injury. Now I’ll give my thoughts on a few things, Arshavin is a fantastic player, world class, but he needs to be more committed and finish chances more often. Yes, he’s got some good goals, but he’s missed quite a number of easy chances too and yesterday, he missed another good one to win us this match. Almunia still does not instill any sort of confidence in the defence with such goalkeeping and Clichy and Sagna are very good but their crossing is extremely diabolical.
As the header suggests, this draw is a slight blip and nothing more I hope. We need to start winning as soon as possible and what better way to start than winning against Barcelona. Iniesta ins’t playing even though I don’t think that will change a lot of things, they’ve still got Messi and Xavi in the team. Cesc is a doubt but I think he’ll make it and be fit enough to start. So all in all, we missed our chance but I feel it’s not over, at least not yet. We still have a chance even though it’s extremely bleak. We gooners have no choice but to keep the faith. We’ll be here to put you in the right frame of mind for the Barca game.
From wherever you are watching, have fun.
Escobar says so!