Arsenal came in to this game looking to continue their impressive home form. The starting eleven included Theo Walcott with his first start of the season. Gibbs started at left back with Vito Mannone preferred to fit again Manuel Almunia.
Arsenal dominated the early exchanges in the first half. Walcott created the first chance of the match when he went by Birmingham defender as if he was not there. The Birmingham keeper Joe Hart saved his shot. A few moments earlier Ridgewell had left Walcott in a heap after a strong sliding tackle. I am sure Walcott enjoyed embarrassing the Birmingham defender with his superior skills. Arsenal finally broke the deadlock on 16 minutes. Song fed Van Persie with a lovely pass, which he expertly controlled. He finished well for his fifth goal of the season. Arsenal scored again within two minutes. Rosicky cut back a pass from the right hand side, which Diaby smashed, into the roof of the net. Birmingham started to gain a foothold in the game but it was a mistake by Arsenals young goalkeeper, which gave them a lifeline in this game. In the 38th minute Ferguson crossed a ball into the Arsenal box. Diaby headed the ball aimlessly into the air. Mannone came for the ball and under Birmingham pressure dropped it. A grateful Lee Bowyer dispatched the ball to the net.
The second half started much the same as the first half with Arsenal dominating. The first significant incident of the second half was when Birmingham were adjudged to have passed back to Joe Hart. Arsenal were awarded a free kick inside the Birmingham box, which Van Persie pounded of the top of the crossbar. To Birmingham’s credit, they maintained a tempo which allowed them to hang into the game by their fingertips. Ridgewell played a ball across the box with two Birmingham players waiting. Mannone scrambled the ball away, atoning for his error in the first half in the process. The three points were still in the balance for Arsenal and were not secured until the 85th minute. From an Arsenal counter attack Fabregas brought the ball forward. He rolled the ball outside to Arshavin a first half replacement for Walcott. Arshavin cut inside and finished to the corner of the net. He celebrated with his trademark finger to the lip celebration and with five minute on the clock three points were secured. Before the final whistle went, Diaby had a chance to make it 4-1. His point blank range shot brought a great save from the impressive Joe Hart.
In the post match interview, Wenger could not keep the smirk of his face when asked how important this win was with both Chelsea and Liverpool losing. His comment was “The league will be tighter then everybody predicted before the season started.” This certainly seems to be the case. Arsenal now lie fourth, four points behind Man United with a game in hand. Significantly, they have a 4-goal superior goal difference. Arsenal’s ability to put a hatful of goals by the weaker teams in the Premiership should stand to them when we come to the business end of the league. With Liverpool, playing Man United next Sunday there will certainly be some further points dropped by one of Arsenal’s title rivals next week.