Arsenal 1 – 0 Wolves – Now that’s what I can leaving it late…

First of all, apologies for the lack of Wolves Preview this week. I blame Easter for an extra day which meant extra things to do which in turn meant me coming even busier than had I not had the extra day. In some parts of your mind, you can somehow understand how having an extra day can actually make you busier than if you didn’t. We’ve all been there.

Now onto the game, and wow, what a crazy game of football it was. The midweek adventures against Barcelona didn’t half take it out of the team, with Gallas, Cesc and Arshavin all missing (we’ll see if and when they come back) and Clichy, Diaby and Nasri benched due to Clichy’s recurrence (ever so slightly) of his back injury and of course the natural rest needed for two players who have been working very hard. Rumour has it that Diaby was carrying an injury and we all know he had a late fitness test for the game against Barcelona midweek. A little rotation saw Niklas Bendtner (who has pretty much started every since he’s been back from injury) replaced by a “fit and ready” Eduardo.

The line up – therefore – was:

Almunia

Sagna – Campbell – Vermaelen – Silvestre

Song – Denilson

Walcott – Rosicky – Eboue

Eduardo

The game started relatively well and we showed attacking intent from the off. An early chance falling to Theo who’s shot was somewhat wayward. Eboue starting on the left of midfield, and in all honesty, it wasn’t his best position. He is very right footed and it showed, as he veered inwards a lot often leaving Silvestre alone at left back. Eboue was good when he came on against Barce, but today he was having one of those games. I really think he should stick to right back rather than left midfield, but I don’t mean to have a go, he did well considering his positional change.

Theo was our main threat and Sagna and him linked up well, often exposing the Wolves defence, whom were quite unable to deal with his pace. He had a few questionable moments, but again, on the whole he did a decent job. It was a symptom of the game, that everyone seemed a little bit off their game. Rosicky often overplayed and his lack of game time showed – and Eduardo, having not seen much pitch time either struggled to get a foothold in the game and missed a few golden chances.

It was starting to be a game of missed chances, or should I say fluffed chances – despite some decent build up – our strikes on goal were wayward or straight at their goalkeeper. A funny moment saw Campbell make a crazy run forward only to chicken out of continuing as he nearly lost the ball at the opposition end, but then defending the possession and eventually with some help, winning the ball back. The second half continued in the same vein, with our backup players short of match practice, and it showed. Arsene eventually brought on Nasri, Bendtner and Vela and we stepped up the intensity.

With minutes to go, it really didn’t look like it was going to be our day – Wolves had been reduced to 10 men after a horrible challenge on Rosicky – lucky not to be injured – and the away team was doing the standard two banks of four with Doyle leading the line. Credit has to be given to Wolves for their overall performance, but they did employ a lot of time wasting tactics and dirty fouls, some which were not even given – and sitting in the crowd, the opposition style did get under my skin.

But we kept on plugging away and with our last but one chance of the game, pretty much every one of our team within 25 yards of their goal saw Theo lay the ball off to Sagna and he floated in a great cross, which Nikki B dispatched with aplomb – 4 minutes into stoppage time, it was 1 -0… Relief around the stadium and celebrations like we had just won the Champions League… all in all it meant the three points were ours and the faint hope of the title was still floating around.

We had time to carve out one more counter attack, which saw about 4 of our team against our of their defenders – in true to game form, we fluffed it, made the wrong decisions and wrong passes. In a way, we got away with this performance, but more dedication, focus and desire is needed for the next 5 league games if we are to win them all and potentially life the title.

Arsene singled out Bendtner for his match winning substitute appearance saying:

It keeps us in the title race, yes. First it was important to forget Barcelona for 24 hours and focus on today’s game, and that was not easy. But we did it well – I think we had a good focus. We were a bit jaded physically but we kept going and we were serious, we didn’t make a mistake at the back. In the end we got a deserved victory against a resilient Wolves team who had a great goalkeeper. At the end of the day we kept it late as with many times but overall we deserved to win the game. Bendtner is a player who can take critics. He responds well to it and has that strength. I believe he is improving, which is not unusual for a young player at 22. There is still room for improvement, but he is becoming more of a team player and is working hard. It is all positive.

In news across the channel, Barcelona suffered an injury pre-game this weekend and it looks like he is out for a while with a calf injury – whether or not it is a smokescreen from Barcelona is yet to be known, but the news is that it’s a genuine injury. His replaced – Bojan, did score two yesterday, so it’s not like it’s the biggest blow in the world when you have someone to come in like that – but then again, I have to hope that we’ve got a better defence than Athletico Bilbao…

Til tomorrow troopers.

  • Nick

    Yepp, Ibrahimovic is out for Barcelona vs Arsenal match.

    Great result against Wolves. That’s where Championships are won, in games like that. The game isn’t over until the last whistle blows. There’s always time to score a goal.

    Chelsea & Drogba were gifted their win against Man U. Drogba was so far offside my dead grandmother who knew nothing about football could’ve called it. But Drogba always manages to get luck on his side. When he’s still on his feet that is (and that’s not often). So we get 3 points and Man U drops 3. Definitely need to keep up the pace and hope they stumble.

    Bring on Barcelona!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kuka

    Ibrah’s height and physical strength was somewhat a threat to our not so tall defense. I think we can handle the other guys. If Henry starts, I
    doubt he has the muscle to give 100% against us.

  • http://arsenalandtherandomthoughtsofmylife.blogspot.com/ Debs

    Very epic 3 points, this. Some dude called ATVO on Friday and was giving Nikky B unbelievable stick. I feel like saying ‘in your face’ to him, if only I knew who he was!
    But yeah, our finishing was the only thing that was lacking yesterday, but given our missing players, we were always going to lack goals. But the most important thing of all, is the 3 points!
    Barca at the Nou Camp will be a different kettle of fish, but they won’t defend the way Wolves do, and I’m pretty sure we’ll score a few. Can’t wait, really!

  • rajendra
  • rajendra

    Thinking about this season’s Premiership and the eventual winners I have to say that I think that whoever it may be will be amongst the worst winners I’ve seen in the past two decades.

    I’ve listened to some complete horse shit spoken about the fact that it’s got more to do with the improvement of the clubs outside of the top 4 – what utter nonsense. Really, a Premiership with Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers in the top half. A Spurs team without a fit centre half competing for the Champions League. An Everton side so bad that for the first half of the season were looking like relegation fodder all of a sudden in the Europa League shake up. Bobby Zamora amongst the leading scorers…….improvement……do me a fucking favour

    It’s no coincidence that for the first time in years the CL semis could be without an English team. Can you honestly say that this Man United side with its complete over-reliance on Shrek, a one-paced midfield, a keeper 10 years past his best and Gary Neville is a great team. All of their previous title winning sides would piss all over this current crop

    And the Chavs…..an ageing midfield who were virtually anonymous against Inter, Captain Chav struggling to keep up with anything other than teammates ex-girlfriends, Petr the Clown and 32 year old Dogbreath. Mourinho’s teams of 2005 and 2006 would destroy them.

    And as for our class of 2010 – all of Wenger’s teams from 1997 to 2006 would have destroyed them too.

    There is no doubt in my mind that whoever wins it this year will be up there with the Blackburn side of 1995 (Wilcox, Batty and Sherwood…need I say more) and Leeds of 1992 (how many away games did they win the following season ?) as the worst winners of the past 20 years.

    What do you guys think ?

  • JAT

    Fair play to Silvestre. He’s been an outcast on the bench for a while now but he came in and did a decent job yesterday. Good professional

  • vj

    i kinda agree with you rajendra i think the premier league has become so tight recetly beacause of the lack of quality in the top teams. I mean i am a die hard arsenal fan but no fan can compare this team to the vieira age. The defence was unbreakeble and the strikeforce unstoppable. Man u as well were awsome with cantona and giggs and scholes at theirr best. The new crop of carricks and rafaels and fabios and welbeck(lol) were nothing compared to that team 4 years ago. Chelsea well mourinho’s team was unbelieveble the team now is effectively the same except that theyre all over thirty. The premier league has although been pletiful in twists and turns and the sheer vast quantity of goals, it has been without quality
    although still best league, italian league boring as hell and spanish league is just 2 teams and the rest

  • Mehedi

    We will see a different team in 4th place this year,

    It certainly will not be Liverpool

  • Sam

    This is text from the Mail on Sunday:

    Arsene Wenger has secured his first signing of the summer with Marouane Chamakh’s move from Bordeaux now confirmed.

    But it will come as no surprise to Arsenal fans, many of whom are desperate for Wenger to dip into his £45million of reserves, that he is arriving on a free transfer.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    the injuries this season have been unbievable, what is it now 4 broken legs?? Maybe we should dip in to the ladies squad, they battered Chelsea 4-0 in the cup semi final.

  • JDD

    looking to tuesday although we have lots of injuries the starting 11 does not pick itself we have many options. i expect barcas team to be-

    Valdes
    DaniAlves Marquez Milito Maxwell/Abidal
    Xavi YayaToure Busquets
    Messi Bojan Pedro

    The man that scored a brace last time is injured and both 1st choice cb’s are suspended so its not a full strength barca team.iniesta could make the bench and abidal is fit but will he replace maxwell.This is still a strong team but i believe we can win the tie.

    I would go with

    Almunia
    Sagna Campbell Vermaelen Clichy
    Nasri Song Denilson
    Eboue Bendtner Rosicky

    With Walcott on the bench.i think that he will have a greater impact coming off the bench with 30-35mins left. Although allround i think Diaby is better I have chosen Denilson over Diaby based on the 1st leg Denilson looked better on the ball whereas Diaby looked clumsy and again Diaby could make an impact from the bench. We would also Vela Eduardo to come on.

    Yes is gonna be hard but i just think we are gonna do it and probly with ANOTHER injury time goal

  • Berth

    I like your comment JDD its quiet matured and nice. Your lineup is very good.

  • Shawn
  • ny

    Three things u have to keep in mind when we take on Barca

    1) Nasri does not usually have a great game when playing away.

    2) Diaby usually is very good when playing away.

    3) if Yaya Toure plays ,he may outmuscle our players in the centre especially Denilson.

  • vj

    i think diaby will star and theo we need to score other wise were going out theos pace is going to be needed eboue on the bench i reckon

  • Kuka

    @ny: I think if Toure plays, he will be I’m defense and not in midfield. They are quite short at the back. I think Pep might prefer Keita in mid field to Toure

  • Kuka

    Arsenal.com has released the 18 man squad to face Barca. Apparently Song is out injured. So when exactly did he get injured? Is it during the Wolves game? I thought he was subbed as a pre-caution?

  • Kuka

    I do not want to sound like am complaining too much, but someone needs to look at our injury rate. At this rate, we might have no one playing by next week? we have close to 8 players out for the season. If we loose anyone in Barca, we might have to call upon the reserve team at this rate….

  • Kuka

    with the line up, I doubt Theo will start. Our mid-field will include all our best, i.e. Diaby to cover for Song, Denilson to cover for the forward-minded Diaby. Eboue to play both offensive and defensive cover and Nasri. B52 upfront on his own and Rosicky right behind him. At the back, Clichy, Verm, Song and Sagna

  • goonerman

    @kuka- i really dont think we can blame anyone for our injury crisis! fabregas,ramsey,gibbs,van persie are all out because of breaks to legs or ligaments so that is just bad luck, gallas plays because we desperatley need him and he gets a reacurrence then arshavin also just gets an unluck calf problem, finally diaby nasri and clichy all carry knocks so they have to be benched so that means song has to be played even if he wanted to rest him becuase we cant play someone like eastmond when we still have the slightest chance of a championship! and then song picks up an injury, we also get kicked a hell of a lot more than any other team even though it has sort of become the norm now for us to be kicked a lot in a game so that must contribute to the injuries! we really just have to hope song can get himself fit for the spurs game next week!

    alot of pundits have said that if we want to try and stay in the game for a bit instead of steaming into it then it could be good for theo to stay on the bench for the first half at least! barca may say they have injuries but to be fair we are in a deserate state right now so alot of positions pick themselves!

    Almunia
    Sagna – Campbell – Vermaelen – Clichy
    Diaby – Denilson
    Eboue – Nasri – Rosicky
    Bendtner

    or

    Almunia
    Sagna – Campbell – Vermaelen – Clichy
    Diaby – Denilson
    Walcott – Nasri – Rosicky
    Bendtner

    Surely he wont play eboue and theo becuase eboue aint all that on the left and with rosicky and nasri we have a much better chance of keeping the ball

  • Nick

    Torres is backing us to win the Prem!
    “I want Arsenal to be the champions,” he told Canal+. “They have the best fixtures of the three. Wenger deserves to win the title and to be imitated for his work he has done in his time there.”

    Maybe we could take him from Liverpool since they’re not gonna make it to the CL next season.

  • goonerman

    it will never happen but to have torres at our club would take us to a whole new level! the chances we create would give him the chance to score an amazing amount of goals and it is nice to see he likes the gooners lol!

    i was just reading daily mail and they are saying weneger is considering partnering sagna with vermaelen at cb! i have to admit if sol is really fatigued and the fact if silvestre plays it is 2 left footed cb’s then it doesnt sound like that bad of an idea!

    does anybody know how sagna is at CB becuase i really cant remember the last time he played there, the only advantage is that he probably isnt going to have to deal with much height and hes got good turning ability and pace about him so it could be an option????

  • Kuka

    @Goonerman: – I do hear you. At times its just frustrating when we have to loose players after each game and at the end of the day, it becomes costly to us. Probably we could do with a winger. Traore’s is not a natural winger, but he did quite well in a more upfront role for Pompey. His pace on the left coupled up by Theo’s on the right might be an asset. Off course Wenger would never start both of them, so no need debating that. Eboue does tire so fast, so might not be a good idea to start him. We might want to bring in when we need some fresh legs and probably a 2-0 lead to protect….

  • JDD

    @nick i agree wenger should make a cheeky bid for him in the summer.

    now that song is injured i would go with

    Almunia
    Sagna Campbell Vermaelen Clichy
    Denilson Diaby Nasri
    Eboue Bendtner Rosicky

    i now think our only option is to attack attack attack with no defensive minded midfielder there is no point trying to sit back and wait for our chance.we have got to just go out and attack them which i would have liked us to do anyway.

    18 man squad-
    Manuel Almunia
    Lukasz Fabianski
    Nicklas Bendtner
    Eduardo
    Abou Diaby
    Samir Nasri
    Denilson
    Fran Merida
    Theo Walcott
    Craig Eastmond
    Tomas Rosicky
    Armand Traore
    Emmanuel Eboue
    Gael Clichy
    Bacary Sagna
    Thomas Vermaelen
    Sol Campbell
    Mikael Silvestre

    does anyone no why vela is not there?

  • Kuka

    I have only seen him play once at CB. This was for Auxerre. He seemed solid, though his height is a disadvantage, especially for long balls, but since Barca does not do long balls, then he might be OK. He is faster than Sol and a great reader of the game. If that is the case, then Eboue can play at right back, which would be just as great

  • Kuka

    @JDD
    I do think Vela does need more games under his belt. He needs to probably play each reserve game, otherwise he will and is getting extremely rusty. He came on against Wolves and could barely cross the ball…..Vela, Eduardo and Merida need to play a lot more in the reserves. Otherwise, they will continue lagging behind as the only football they receive in during training

  • Francis

    With the spate of injuries here’s is my line-up

    Almunia
    Eboue Sagna Vermaelen Clichy
    Denilson Diaby Nasri
    Merida/Eastmond Bendtner Rosicky

    The loss of Song will have to be compensated for…wenger might throw in Eastmond to do a lot of running around and some mopping up…or go for a more attack minded player to give barca something to think about.

    Walcott may just be kept on the bench as an impact player or maybe wenger may go for broke and play him from the start.
    problem though wenger will not want to risk playing 2 teenagers merida and eastmond at the same time

    other option as i see it is to play sylvestre and hope that he plays a blinder!!! but i have my doubts as his timing and speed is suspect