Sunday, 30 November 2008
They might be giants
The roller coaster ride continues, I can't remember a season like it, you simply cannot predict which Arsenal side will turn up, fortunately today the Arsenal eleven showed a lot of courage to come from a goal down to beat Chelsea 2-1 at the bridge, albeit with a little help from an excellent linesman (!).
I knew Arsene had given us as good a chance as possible by starting with the powerful Djourou and Gallas at centre back, it was also a great time to welcome back Nasri and Adebayor. The game started at a frenetic pace, even for a local derby match, good openings were squandered at both ends. Despite going in at the break a goal down, we had been well in the game and were a tad unfortunate to be behind at the half way mark. Gallas was inches away from a tap in as Nasri's shot was well saved by Cech, while RVP also tested the Chelsea keeper with a good low poke. The Chelsea goal was a bit disappointing because not only did Almunia give the ball away cheaply, but Nasri didn't track Bosingwa, who then put in a fantastic cross that the unlucky Djourou diverted past the annoyed Almunia.
They key moment was the equalising goal from RVP, as RVP was played in Bosingwa seemed to be playing him onside, however replays showed that he was marginally offside, however the finish with the right foot was emphatic. Chelsea did not respond, they seemed impotent and lacking in ideas, RVP struck an excellent second on the turn from a great downward header from Ade. The siege from Chelsea did not materialise, we defended well as a team, Song broke play up excellently throughout the second half, we really fought for the scraps in dogged fashion. The centre backs were solid throughout, Djourou has staked his claim, the full backs are quality, while the underrated Song and Denilson really worked their socks off for the cause. Having the power and holding up ability of Adebayor really helped, while RVP showed real commitment with a great performance.
Although the offside goal did affect the outcome of the game, it was rather poetic given that Drogba's clearly offside goal from last season was allowed to stand and scuppered out title chances. In reality Chelsea could have lost the game by more, with both the thuggish Terry and the clumsy Ivanovic extremely fortunate to remain on the pitch, while Denilson's touch let him down at the vital moment when clean through on Cech near the end. As RVP made clear in his interview afterwards, this was about 'us', it was a team performance, true, we got lucky, but you need a bit of luck in football, however there was a lot of fight and team work there today. Not only did our big names live up to their billing but a few of the lesser known and sometimes unfairly scapegoated players also showed that they do possess a hell of a lot of quality.
Today was very different to the Manu victory, we were a goal down away from home against top quality opposition, we needed to show a hell of a lot of character and fight to come away with the win. The centre back pairing finally looked solid, while the whole team showed more desire and more fight than I have seen at any other point this season, contrast this to the pathetic capitulation at home to the spuds. The attitude was more professional, in the second half there were more pragmatic safety first clearances into row Z, the stupid risks were not taken as in previous weeks. The corner certain appears to be in the process of being turned, I just hope that this new team under captain Cesc can continue to build itself some solid foundations upon which to base future success.