I'm back from my scouting mission to Barcelona in what seems a very short trip out there. Thanks to JAT for filling in for me yesterday, another great blog and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were certainly playing their lovely games again.
Over to my weekend for a bit and Barcelona beat Real Madrid 2-0 to effectively put the Champions 12 points behind them and vanishing any title aspirations they may have had. Barcelona were electric and maybe deserved to win by more. It was clear that Real had problems up front, with no real potent attack. Messi, Eto'o and Henry were simply sensational for Barcelona, scaring the wits out of their opponents. Indeed, whoever gets Barcelona in the Champions League will have a tough time trying to beat them.
Okay, on to yesterday's game and we drew 1-1 to Middlesborough. In a game we "should" have won, we've come away with just a point. I've only been back in the country for a few hours and have yet to see the highlights, so can't really comment on how we played. Ultimately, I understand it was a good game, a game where we looked interested. But ultimately, a point isn't good enough.
The formation and team line up saw a middle quartet of central midfielder, with Song and Cesc in the middle and Denilson and Diaby on the wings. Speculation that Eboue and Vela would start on the wings didn't come to fruition. We went ahead through Adebayor, from a Cesc corner and Ade scored his 11th goal of the season. Our lead didn't last long and it was old-boy Aliaidiere who came back to haunt us as he nodded home from a Tuncay cross.
I'll hopefully watch the highlights tonight (they're on Arsenal TV at 10pm) and have further comments on my take on the game later, but I'll leave you with these words from Arsene:
“There was room to win the game, especially when we were 1-0 up with plenty of chances to score a second; we were in control. I feel we were a bit unlucky on the goal we conceded but Middlesbrough played well and worked very hard.
“In the second half they had a good mixture of defending well and getting the pace out of the game, going down and gaining time. That was a bit frustrating but they did it well and in the last 20 minutes they defended very well.”
“We tried, I do believe that. In the end we lacked something, we couldn’t take our chances and I must admit I expect ‘Boro to collapse a bit more than they did in the final part. They didn’t give in, even with tired legs and that is credit to them.
“You want always to get more but I feel my team needs more encouragement because they don’t get it anywhere and that is why I want to focus on the next game.”
Sometimes you do feel that Arsene thinks we’re a fitter team who can come strong in the final parts of the game and although that has been reminiscent of previous teams – I can’t remember how many winners we’ve scored in the latter part of games this season, can you?
I’ll keep it short today – hope everyone has has a good weekend.