It was if the kind people at Manchester United who organise the Premier league fixture list at the beginning of the season had anticipated that we would need a bit of a helping hand around this time and gave us an especially kind run of fixtures. It’s not too difficult imagining them thinking: first we will give them West Ham..no, can’t beat them? Ok, don’t fret we will make it easier, Sunderland. No, still can’t beat them? Even easier then, here’s Fulham… still no. Right, last chance, West Brom, yes, 3- 1 well done.
Wenger went from the choosing a team to face Fulham that was the top of everyone’s wish list to a side that I am sure would have caused great concern to many. As the team was read out you could almost hear the knives being sharpened, ready, to tear into a convenient victim should things have gone wrong. I don’t know about you but I go into protective mode at this point. It seems to have the same effect on me as a bee when it feels the hive is under threat, an alarm goes of in my head and the words scream out: Defend at all costs, defend at all costs.
It all started in the school playground; my particular playground was made up of half Arsenal and half spuds. The problem was that the spuds half contained some real big, spiteful, nasty bastards who used take pleasure in mocking us by trying to single out, what they thought was our worst player, and taking the piss the best they could whenever we were within ear shot. Such was the effect it had on me that I have, from that day to this, defended every single lost cause Arsenal player as if my life depended on it.
So, when I saw the line up that included Bendtner, Eboue and Song, I thought to myself, I have really got my work cut out tonight. I justified the selection by saying that West Brom have nothing to loose, they will try and come onto us, so maybe for that reason it is a good idea to play Song as DM. In the space of the first two minutes that theory had gone to pot; Song had given the ball away twice so cheaply that all around me were calling him the kind of names that would have made the name calling by the spuds in my playground seem complimentary. Eboue was no better and the combined school boy error committed by both of them as they lined up in what was supposedly a wall was so farcical and the only thing missing was Benny Hill music.
There is no doubt that the best way to watch Arsenal away is to actually go to the game; we have all experienced it at one time or another, nothing beats the atmosphere, punctuated by the collective euphoria of jumping up en masse while simultaneously screaming the word goooooooal. For a split second reality is suspended; there are no taxes, there is a god and he supports Arsenal. Yep, you’ve got it, that’s the feeling. I was unable to make last night’s game but to the hard core few that made the effort I salute you.
7 Almunia..If it wasn’t for the school boy behaviour of two of the members in the wall he would have kept yet another clean sheet.
6 Sagna…an easy game for him, took his job of defending in his stride.
7 Toure…the pass of the match and a crucial goal, the lion roared.
6 Djourou…still learning, but clearly improving.
6 Clichy….lots of heart as always; when we win it is easier to ignore his attacking deficiencies.
4 Eboue…oh dear, failed to build on his good cameo against Fulham.
3&5 Song…3 in the first half, all he needed was a Charlie Chaplin moustache but Wenger cleverly found a way of lifting his confidence in the second half.
6…Denilson..yet another efficient game, no mistakes, broke play up and found one our own.
6.5 Nasri…very bright start, must be realising by now that he is going to have some fierce competition for his place in the near future.
9 Bendtner…oohh Nicki, man of the match..is there anyone out there who is still saying we should sell him?
7 Arshavin…patience, its coming, its coming.
6 Diaby..is becoming more and more powerful in the midfield.
Merida.. not on long enough, but made one very impressive run.
I may not have gone, as I said, but I did watch it in a place that I regard as the next best thing: the Twelve Pins pub in Finsbury Park, the most Arsenal pub on the planet.
If someone had drawn a cartoon of the Arsenal supporters arriving they would have set the Twelve pins in a desert, sand as far as the eye could see with gooners crawling on their hands and knees towards the entrance, their tongues hanging out, as if dying of thirst; a speech bubble above each fan, but instead of them containing the expected words water, water must have water, the words would have been replaced with “goals, goals, must have goals.”
This thirst was finally quenched by Bendtner, the stand out player of the night, scoring two goals that Thierry Henry would have been proud of. The first after 4 minutes, picking the ball up on the right, he deftly curled it along the ground, into the far corner. Bendtner’s second came from a brilliant 40 yard pass from Toure which he controlled well before rifling it into the net. The confidence of both these players was sky high. Ten minutes prior to playing the pass of the match Toure had scored what probably was the most important goal of the game. A beautifully floated in free kick by Arshavin was powerfully headed into the back of the net by King Kolo, this effectively broke West Broms resistance and the rest of the game was played out, as I suspect Wenger had anticipated from the beginning, in a Carling Cup kind of way, this was confirmed to me by the welcome appearance of Fran Merida in the 82nd minute.
They show every Arsenal game live at the Twelve Pins. Inside there are two big screens and when I say big I mean big and when I say every game live, I mean every game live. It was packed with gooners who sing their hearts out. It costs £7 to get in, you get two free drinks with that and they stamp your hand, like they used to at school discos. I love it.
Written by London.. F**ked up by Avenell.. lol.