By Bilal Zaidi
Today’s win was absolutely HUGE. We are 5 points clear of Chelsea in second place with a game in hand. Villa have been top class this season…they have a solid team, a manager who has got the best out of them and some very talented players.
Today Carew was unlucky not to snatch a point for Villa who to be fair, made it difficult for us and perhaps deserved a point. Then again…we came back once again from a goal behind to win 2-1 so any team that does that would be hard done by to not get all three points.
After Liverpool away and United at home….this was probably our toughest test this season. That is taking into account not having two key players in Fabregas and Van Persie…also Hleb getting injured later on in the game.
So a few words on the goals….Villa penetrated our right hand side and a ball that bobbled through with a couple deflections across goal and Gardner knocked it in. Flamini grabbed one back with good work on the right from Eboue and a little flick from Adebayor. A solid left footed finish from this seasons most improved player.
Then a superb floated high cross from Sagna was powerfully headed in by the awesome Adebayor. He leapt far above any defender close to him and the timing of the jump was what allowed him to reach high above everyone else around him. The floated cross meant he had to generate a lot of power from his header which he did with devastating precision.
2-1 at half time and a good scoreline for the team. Eboue and Sagna were constantly overlapping and getting balls into the area. The invincible years was an era where Wenger’s team was predominantly left sided. The penetration of Pires, Henry and Cole was key to most of Arsenal’s goals.
NOW SAGNA, EBOUE AND HLEB PROVIDE THE THRUST IN CONTRASTING FASHION TO MAKE ARSENAL A RIGHT SIDED TEAM.
Eboue although does have games where his final ball could do with improvement…was quite superb today especially in the first half. He is a player that infuriates many Arsenal fans because of his occasional diving and theatrical antics…but nobody can take away the fact that his direct penetrative play is a great asset to this team. Since the last couple of seasons Eboue has been seen as a defensive week link in our back four but his attacking play has never been questioned, especially for a right back. But now pushed up in an advanced position…his time at right back has been a bonus in terms of his defensive ability. With the world class Sagna behind him, the right hand side is defensively sound…even though Young was dangerous today…and Villa’s goal came from our right hand side…generally speaking it is clear to see our right side of defence has been greatly improved this year and is perhaps a huge reason why we have been successful thus far.
I wrote “they provide the thrust in contrasting fashion”. By this I mean that Eboue is a direct running electric inside dribbler…while Sagna efficiently overlaps and crosses well….Hleb when playing on the right is a more patient…ball keeping and tight passing player. His immaculate dribbling ability allows him to find space in most situations and he along with Fabregas is key to most of our goals.
The second half was however, a different story…Villa as you would expect…the home team trailing 2-1…pushed on and were unlucky not to get an equaliser. Carew hit the bar and other chances were squandered by Villa in the last period of the game.
Hleb was taken off due to injury…Gilberto came on later and we had three defensive midfielders and a right back in midfield. Walcott came on for Hleb and had little contribution to the game.
Overall….it was the result in the end that counted…and this was a huge test and therefore a huge result…we have already come through against Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd, Aston Villa, Portsmouth…without losing…they are 5 teams in the top 6 of the league not including ourselves. The other team is Chelsea and we entertain them on the 16th December (Watch live stream here).
Remember also that many of these games have been without Robin Van Persie and today without Fabregas….that is like taking Drogba and Lampard from Chelsea…Ronaldo and Rooney from Utd…Gerrard and Torres from Liverpool. The two most influential attacking players at each club even though the ones I just chose are debatable.
This season has been an evolution in Che Wengers revolution at Arsenal….it is still early days but the signs have been promising. Now with Fabregas out for a few more games…and Van Persie likewise…Hleb’s injury today could be a huge blow in our creative domain…lets hope it’s nothing too serious.
Good day all…more from me tomorrow.