Que Sera, Sera! Arsenal 3 Ipswich 0 Review

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Jan 252011
 

Profuse apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days. Arsenally Yours was decidedly ill; I think it was flu but my agent said it was just a bad cold. What do agents know anyway! Whatever it was, it was sufficiently bad enough for her to confiscate my dongle and confine me to bed.

I’m feeling better now, in no small part due to the fact that we’re going to Wem-ber-ley! On February 27th, we have the chance to lay our hands on some silverware for the first time in 6 years. We can avenge the defeat to Chelsea in the 2007 League Cup final by beating Birmingham or West Ham.  As Cesc said after the game, it doesn’t matter who we face, it’ll be a Cup Final and we can expect a tough game from either. That said, we may still be in all 4 competitions, but this represents our best chance of silverware this year by a country mile.

I had some fears before the game that we’d rotate too much – that Fabregas, Nasri, Song and v Persie wouldn’t start and we’d lose the fluent, succesful style of play that we’ve all enjoyed watching in the last few games. Those fears proved partially unfounded, as Nasri and Song gave way to Denilson and Bendtner.

As it was, it’s a credit to Denilson that we didn’t miss Song, even against a team a combative as Ipswich. And if it wasn’t for Bendtner’s goal in the 61st minute, I fear it could have been a different result.

Ipswich played very well for the first 60 minutes, and it’s hard to reconcile that team performance with their poor league position. They really didn’t look like relegation candidates heading for League 1. Until Bendtner’s goal came, I did start to worry that they’d pull off a draw and knock us out. Obviously, they defended in numbers, but they didn’t park their tractors in front of their goal, and gave us a good run for our money.

We almost went behind when Sagna and Szczesny collided, gifting McAuley an open goal and a free header. Thankfully it went wide, but Sagna had to go off to be replaced by Eboue in an incident that predictably gave the commentary team the opportunity to roll out their best ‘Keystone Cops’ clichés. I hope the substitution was just precautionary. I shall try to keep you updated when I hear more.

We had a few more chances in the first half, V Persie hitting the crossbar, and Bendtner had a golden chance when their keeper dropped the ball, but sadly his shot was blocked. After the restart, there was an air of desperation, and although it looked like we’d score at any moment, I was having a serious case of the pessimisms.

But the goal came, and what a goal it was. Excellent first touch to take him past Carlos Edwards, a touch inside and a then Bendtner curled a great finish inside the far post. I really, really hope that the goal proves a springboard for a return to the kind of form that he’s lacked in the last few games.

That drew us level on aggregate, but we didn’t have long to wait for the goal that would put us ahead for the first time in 180 minutes. Corner to the Arsenal, Koscielny lost his marker, their keeper came and missed the ball, and the Frolish’s header found an empty net. Cue Arsenally Yours feeling a lot better all of a sudden.

And to cap it off, soon after that, Cesc nutmegged the keeper to put us 3-0 ahead! You won’t believe me, no doubt, but my Arsenally quids were on 3-0 at 11/2 so some bubbly was uncorked chez Arsenally Yours in celebration of our impending trip to Wembley and Arsenally Yours’ bank balance being augmented by no small amount.

Now we have a chance to rest until Sunday when we play our 9th game of January. Another game against opposition in a lower league, this time from 2 tiers below us. After complacency cost us a replay against Leeds and a nervy rematch with the Tractor Boys, let’s knock this one on the head on Sunday. No replays please!

Arsenally much better now,

Will

It’s really not that bad… Ipswich 1 Arsenal 0 Review

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Jan 142011
 

I was going to post last night, but I was too full of disappointment and frustration to write anything comprehensible. Now I’ve had a chance to calm down, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not the end of the world. We certainly shouldn’t panic. It’s not as if we’re all doomed.

Yes, it was the worst performance of the season, even with Cesc, Wilshere, Walcott, and Arshavin all starting. Yes, there was a lack of desire and commitment. Yes, we couldn’t pass the ball. Yes, we created hardly any chances after the 2nd minute. Yes, we were beaten by a side that’s 19th in the Championship.

If you’re feeling masochistic you can see the highlights, sorry, lowlights of the game here, thanks to Aunty.

But, dear gooners, every team has a slump in form, and what’s more, we can rescue the situation – for both the FA cup against Leeds and the Carling Cup against Ipswich. In both cases it’s only half-time.

Of course, it’s not ideal, and for both cup competitions we should have already won the ties. In the case of Ipswich, we’d still have the second leg even if we had won 4-1 at Portman Road and the Arsenally bookie coughed up. But if we’d won by that kind of margin, which we certainly could have, the tie would effectively be over. Instead, it’s now an uphill battle.

Some bloggers have concentrated on the poor individual performances, and there were plenty of those, I don’t disagree with that. But I think that we have to look at the games against Leeds and Ipswich as aberrations, mistakes and yes, disappointments, but in the context of our fine form so far this season, it’s a bad patch, nothing more.

Granted, Denilson and Arshavin had shockers – again. For the former, it’s a shame because we need him to push the more regular starters into better form with some competition for places. He failed to do that, and didn’t give the boss any reason to pick him again. He did pass the bal well in patches against Ipswich, but generally speaking he was very disappointing in both games.

As for Arshavin, his form has been poor for a while now. The reation of the fans was predictable, but to my mind self-defeating. It’s unlikely to inspire him to pull his socks up, pull his finger out and generally get his Arsh in gear. I don’t understand supporters paying to watch a game only to boo their own team’s players. But that said, his perceived attitude has shifted from casual with flashes of brilliance, to lazy, and only occasionally bothering to play well.

There is a tendency in all of us to see character faults instead of looking at situational reasons for certain behaviours. In other words, Arsh trotting over to the touchline twice when he sees a substitution being made might not be laziness, but instead caused by the fact that he’s our most substituted player. Which he is. I hope he finds some form, and soon.

Others in the media and blogosphere have concentrated on how AW’s comments after the game, that ‘we lacked a little bit the sharpness’ and that some players are “fatigued” are simply poor excuses, when we could all see that what was missing was desire and commitment, and in place of confidence the team was arrogantly complacent.

I wholeheartedly agree with that. But the point we’ve always got to bear in mind with Le Boss’s press and media appearances, is that he’s not one of those managers who just says what’s in his mind and b*gger the consequences. He’s very careful not to make any comments about players unless they’re positive. That’s why he’s often derided for not seeing bad tackles on opponents. Of course he sees them, he just won’t air our dirty laundry in public. He’s certainly not going to say that we lacked desire or commitment to the press, but you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll say it to the players. Every time he says anything to the press he ensures that he keeps his thoughts on his players private, and doesn’t undermine his relationship with them. And quite right too.

I haven’t been on the happy pills. I was as disappointed as any gooner about Wednesday night, but I’d rather we had a patch of poor form in domestic cup competitions than in the Premier or Champions League. We still have the chance to put it right. Let’s hope the players really do learn the lessons of these domestic cup games, beat Leeds and Ipswich, and start to gain ground on ManUre in the league.

Arsenally hopeful,

Will