It feels nice, to be able be able to come off the weekend with a good win. A win over rugby team Stoke gave Arsenal our first back-to-back victory in the league. And might I say it was a deserved result. No matter that the goals came late, and required the intervention of our genius Robin Van Persie, who stepped off the bench to make a huge impact on the game.
Match report is here and you have to check the previous post for links to videos.
It was no surprise Van Persie was rested, given that he was playing in nearly every game since the start of the season. We needed to give our skipper a break. So Chamakh came in for our skipper, and at right back Djourou stood in for Jenkinson.
We could have gone ahead early, with a good corner from Arteta finding Chakmakh unmarked, but the Moroccan contrived to get it all wrong and head the wrong side of goal. Poor from him.
However, Stoke were parking the bus in front of goal, and seem happy to take a point from the game. It meant that Arsenal was in control of possession, and Rambo was impressively probing the Stoke’s defense. In the 21st minute, Ramsey nearly replicated his effort against Marseille, but shot just wide of goal. He then turned architect in the 26th minutes by lobbing a through cross to Gervinho, and the Ivorian marksmen controlled the ball nicely before slotting it past Begovic. 1-0 to the Arsenal. We deserved it.
However, what we did not deserve was to give away a free kick 6 minutes later. The referee decided that Koscielny leaping into the air and having minimal contact with Crouch was enough to merit a foul as the robotic striker went sprawling to the ground. He needs a pair of glasses I tell you. Again, our inability to defend set pieces was ruthlessly exposed, as a free kick into the box was not properly dealt with, and as the ball was all over the place before Crouch manages to tap it in. 1-1 Stoke.
You would have expected Stoke to learn from other teams, and that is when Arsenal concedes, you need to attack relentlessly as we seem to crack under pressure after conceding. But no, ruggers are ruggers, and so they resorted to parking the bus.
This played to Arsenal’s advantage, as we retained most possession and continuously probed for an opening. Walcott was terrorising Wilkinson with his pace, and I actually felt that Walcott was doing some damage down the right. However, nothing came out of it and we went into the break 1-1.
The second half started as how it ended in the first half, with Arsenal dominating possession but failing to make any clear cut chances. Walcott, who was terrorising the right wing in the first half, got double teamed as Pulis got, i think it was Whelan, to help Wilkinson out. Walcott became subdued immediately, and could do nothing much as time went on.
Chants for Van Persie rang around the stadium, and the Boss duly replied by sending on Van Persie for Chamakh and Arshavin for Walcott. The subs seems to have a profound effect on the game, and statistic agrees too.
The skipper’s introduction galvanised the team, and you could see we became more urgent and lively. Pure class is pure class, and Van Persie showed that as Gervinho drove down the right wing with a burst of pace, and cut a ball back to Van Persie, whose shot was just enough to bobble over the line. 2-1 Arsenal.
Van Persie’s importance to the team became more pronounced, as Arshavin quick thinking saw him making a through pass to Gervinho down the left. Gervinho again used his pace to dart behind the Stoke’s defense, and cut it back once more for Van Persie to fire home. 3-1 Arsenal, and a superb cameo appearance from our skipper.
Our skipper seems to be unsatisfied, and believes he can still improve. Someone said this to me, that perfection can’t be improved. Well, if you want to pick a bone with Van Persie, I am sure you could find some flaws, but I am not about to find fault with someone who has scored 25 goals in 26 league games this year.
After the game, Arsene acknowledged that Van Persie is important, but insisted that Arsenal is not a one man team. Honestly, I am fine with that. Every big team has that one special player who stands out above the rest, and for us that happens to be Van Persie at the moment. It’s how we set out to build the team around that player that matters the most. Fergie built his team around Ronaldo previously, and now Rooney. Liverpool’s team is built around Gerrard, and Barcelona has a certain Lionel Messi.
Yes sure these teams all have other good players around them, but the core of the team is surely those few individuals. I am not saying we can live with just Van Persie alone, but rather I am emphasising the fact that it is his potential we need to draw out, and that can be done by complementing other players to suit our skipper.
I am also irked by stupid remarks like we have only one world-class player left at Arsenal. What about Sagna, by far one of the best right back in the league right now. Jack Wilshere? Szczesny? These two players may be young, but their performance stands up there with the best in the league in my opinion. It is also a testament of their ability that fans will groan whenever these players are not playing.
So, that’s my tuppence, and will be back soon! Work commitments has not been kind lately. Players ratings as below.
Szczesny – Little to do, seeing how Stoke were content to sit back and play for a point. Inexperience showed when he rushed out to clear a long ball which was being dealt with by Mertesacker. Was calm and composed however, and used good ball control to take the ball away and clear it from Jerome I think. 6.5 / 10
Djourou – Good showing in the right back position, mainly due to not much offensive plays by Stoke. Still, was lively going forward and defensively sound. 7 / 10
Santos – Got in challenges, but can be stupid at times. You don’t try to pull off funny flicks in your own half, and especially when you are near your own goal. 6 / 10
Mertesacker – Good performance. Dealt with long balls into the box admirably, and wasn’t given much. 7 / 10
Koscielny – Made Crouch look like a dwarf in my opinion. Gave another good showing following his Marseille performance. Was commanding in the air, good positioning and reading to prevent and long balls from reaching Crouch, and kept the Stoke’s frontman quiet all afternoon. 7.5 / 10
Song – Is our holding midfielder, but was our most offensive player in midfield until Van Persie came on. Won balls, got stuck in, and was tenacious. 7 / 10
Arteta – Starting to see more of him, was more involved in build ups to attacks. Worked hard to retain possesion, and corners are consistently good so far. 7 / 10
Rambo – Played well. Made two successful through passes, and gave a good hard working display. Growing from strength to strength. 7 / 10
Walcott – Started brightly, but faltered in the second half. Pace made life difficult fro Wilkinson, but his final ball so far has been lacking. Got made anonymous as Stoke double teamed him in the second half. 5.5 / 10
Gervinho – Some would say man of the match, but until Van Persie came on he was only decent. Good finish for the first goal, and showed his burst of pace in creating 2 goals for Van Persie. He is what I meant by players complementing Van Persie. Walcott could learn a thing or two from the Ivorian though. 8 / 10
Chamakh – I wouldn’t be so harsh on him as many of the fans are. His lack of playing time resulted in his match rustiness, and made him react slowly to certain situations, like his free header in the 8th minutes. He was hardworking too, making good work to press and win the ball back. Let down by his poor touches and decisions, but I believe if given a run of games will actually come good. 6 / 10
Arshavin – Played in his favourite role at the hole behind the strikers, and was quite lively. Contributed by making a through pass to Gervinho. Quick thinking, and good decision too. Should do more of this. However, not much time to do cause more damage. 6.5 /10
Man of the Match Van Persie – 30minutes. 2 goals. Game changer. Van Persie. 8.5 / 10
Frimpong – Didn’t do much as he came on in the 89th min – Not rated.