Arsenal 3 – 1 Birmingham

Arsenal 3 – 1 Birmingham
Van Persie 16, Diaby 18, (Bowyer 38), Arshavin 85

In a day that started off with Aston Villa beat Chelsea to see the Stamford Bridge outfit lose their second game of the season, it was important that we took advantage. And that’s exactly what we did, but I have to say it was definitely not the most comfortable of afternoons I’ve spent at the Emirates.

Team news saw Mannone retain the number 1 jersey as Almunia was still a little worse for wears from his recent virus. Eboue came in for Sagna, who was rested, and Gibbs came in for the injured Gael Clichy, who was still recovering from his recent ankle injury. Diaby recovered to start along side Cesc and Song and Walcott came in for Arshavin whose recent exertions with Russia gave him a place on the bench, joining Rosicky and Van Persie in the front three.

Mannone

Eboue – Gallas – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Song – Diaby

Walcott – Cesc – Rosicky

Van Persie

The game kicked off in a manner reminiscent of the end of the Blackburn game – we were on fire… and it looked like Birmingham were here to defend. But it took only 15 minutes before we hit the back of the net and it was the man of the moment, Robin Van Persie who slotted in. A great run and pass from Song, when everyone thought he was going to shoot, he sent the ball through to the Dutchman, who controlled well, and in the same way as he scored against Blackburn, he finished in a similar fashion.

And one became two very quickly as good work down the right saw Rosicky square well across the box for the ball to go through everyone and land at the feet of Diaby, who finished well, left footed at the first time of asking… it felt like we’d go on to hit Birmingham for 6. But credit to the Midlands team, they defended and defended and tried their best to go forward. Most of it seemed more hopeful than authoritative but at the end of the day, they did well and kind of deserved the goal they scored. It was a person whom I particularly dislike in Lee Bowyer who whacked the ball into the back of the net after Mannone fumbled a cross, where he really should have punched instead of trying to catch. And that’s the way it ended the first half.

A quick side note, Theo Walcott was taken off after about half way through the first half when a heavy challenge earlier on saw he fail to struggle off a knee injury.

The second half was a completely different story. And particularly why my afternoon wasn’t that comfortable. For pretty much the whole of the second half, I sat on the edge of my seat. It was a weird feeling. We were winning 2-1, but it felt like we were drawing. We were going forward in search of another goal and Birmingham were defending and actually time-wasting. All of a sudden Birmingham realised they were losing and they could have equalised if not for some good goalkeeping from Vito Mannone.

And then a moment of magic from Arshavin saw us go 3-1 up and the game was effectively over.  A great throw out by Mannone to Cesc – the captain travelling half the length of the field to play in Arshavin, who picked his spot despite the presence of a defender in front of him. Excellent stuff, three points.

Arsene spoke on Theo’s injury:

“He has a bruised knee, it is swollen and difficult to assess at the moment. Is it a medial knee ligament that is twisted or just a kick? The fact that he says he felt a little unstable when he was running is not good news. We don’t know yet how much of his pain is down to the kick and how much is down to the fact he twisted his ligament.

“We will assess the situation tomorrow morning. He will be scanned and if it is just a kick he has a good chance to play on Tuesday night [at Alkmaar]. If it is more, he will not play on Tuesday. I believe personally he will not be available on Tuesday at least. It is not a cruciate for example but it could be more than a week if it is a twisted ligament.”

And then went on to speak about the game saying:

“We were cruising, in control, two goals up and it looked like we could get more. You were wondering who would score the third goal. But we made a mistake defensively and they got back to 2-1. In the second half we did not have the same fluency or control in the game, not the same pace, but in the end I still believe 3-1 is a fair result because we had plenty of chances. Birmingham regrouped very quickly when they lost the ball and we lacked a little bit of sharpness. I feel also we tried to force the situation a little bit individually, especially in the second half, and that’s why we didn’t score more goals.”

Three points on the board. 4 points off the top with a game in hand… Bring on the Champions League…

  • ny

    who was the MoM?

  • wills

    Good performance from Arsenal, shame we seemed to switch off a little bit after the second goal but in the end we seemed comfortable winners.

    Credit has to go to Diaby, who I think put in a MotM performance, and capped it off with a great goal. It looks like he’s put the nightmare of OT behind him and is finally looking like a good player. I watched an interview with him on SSN on Saturday before the game, and he said he has completely forgotten about that moment and just wants to show his potential in the team.

    Shame about the injury to Theo, he had just come back from injury and was looking better than ever, knocking the ball past players and leaving them sat on their arse. I hear he’ll be out for 3 weeks so probably out for the Sp*rs game, although good news that Defoe won’t be playing.

    Finally, I know we all got a bit of stick for chanting what we did at Adebayor when we played up at City, but each and everyone of the Birmingham fans should be disgraced with their behavior on Saturday. Only 10 minutes into the game, you could quite clearly singing ‘There’s only one Martin Taylor’, which after what happened, is quite frankly disgusting. Eduardo was in the ground and I don’t dare think how he felt when he heard that but there is no reason for that to be sung. I think I speak for 60,000 Arsenal fans in the ground, and all those who watched/listened elsewhere, that if the tackle 2 years ago was the other way round, ie. Eduardo on Taylor, we would certainly not be singing that. In fact, I’d give a standing ovation if he played.

  • Pete

    Arsene confirmed that Walcott will be out for 3-4 week. Shame really as he’s had a good impact when he’s featured for us in the last two games, and he was flying against Birmingham. He’ll definately be missed but it feels that theres a bit more of a depth to our squad than perhaps we had last year, and we’re not getting serious injuries to our key areas like at centreback, so it could be worse. Still sucks to see a good player sidelined though. Get well soon Theo.

    Wenger also said Rosicky took a knock but should be fit in a few days.

    Good news is that Nasri is on the brink of return, both he and Fabianski have a reserves match tomorrow night against Wolves, so it’ll be good to see him playing again.

    Here’s the full Arsenal squad taken out to Holland to face AZ Alkmaar:

    Vito Mannone
    Manuel Almunia
    Carlos Vela
    Robin van Persie
    William Gallas
    Bacary Sagna
    Kieran Gibbs
    Thomas Vermaelen
    Mikael Silvestre
    Gael Clichy
    Andrey Arshavin
    Fran Merida
    Jack Wilshere
    Aaron Ramsey
    Cesc Fabregas
    Emmanuel Eboue
    Abou Diaby
    Alex Song

    Not a bad squad to make a selection from eh. Wouldn’t mind seeing the following start.

    Almunia

    Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy

    Cesc Song Diaby

    Arshavin RvP Vela

  • wills

    @Pete, totally agree that that is a good squad to pick from, especially when AZ Alkmaar aren’t the toughest CL opposition we’ll face this year.

    Delighted to see Merida in the squad, hopefully Wenger will have him on the bench. Been reading a lot in the news recently about him leaving when his contract is up. I for one really hope he doesn’t. He looks like a great prospect for the future and I hope we hang on to him.

    My probable line up:

    ———-Almunia——–
    Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy
    ———Song Diaby——
    ——Eboue Cesc Arshavin—
    ————RvP———-

    Subs: Mannone, Vela, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Merida, Silvestre