Same old story with Arsenal

It appears to be the same old story with Arsenal… and that’s a good reason for supporters to celebrate and something for the other 19 English Premier League teams to be aware of. There are two familiar story lines with the Gunners. First, you can count on Robin van Persie to find the back of the net in just about every game he plays. Secondly, this is a deadly team when it comes to the last 10 minutes of football games, at least in the EPL.
This should be something to be proud of and it can be attributed to conditioning, determination, luck, or whatever else, but when it comes to scoring vital goals late in games it’s hard to top the Gunners. The last two games have been prime examples of this with Arsenal scoring last-minute winners at home against Newcastle on March 12 and also in the previous encounter when they edged Liverpool at Anfield on March 3. Both games ended in 2-1 victories and a crucial six points were earned in the race for third place with Spurs and Chelsea.
Arsenal has now scored an even dozen goals during the last 10 minutes of games so far this season including stoppage time with just one of them coming in a loss, which was 4-3 to Blackburn back on Sept. 17. The other 11 goals came in wins with several of them meaning the difference between earning all three or one point in the contests.
The trend started on Sept. 24 in a 3-0 win over Bolton at the Emirates when Alex Song banged home an insurance goal in the 89th minute. On Oct. 18, in a 2-1 win at home over Sunderland Robin van Persie scored the winner in the 82nd minute to earn all three points.
The following game on Oct. 23, also at home, saw van Persie score again in the 82nd minute in a 3-1 victory over Stoke. The next game took place at Stamford Bridge on Oct. 29. With the score tied 3-3 after Juan Mata leveled it for Chelsea in the 80th minute, van Persie scored a pair in the 85th and 90th minutes to secure another three points.
A 1-1 draw was earned at home on Nov. 26 against Fulham when Thomas Vermaelen drew the game level in the 82nd minute. On Dec. 21 Yossi Benayoun gave Gunners fans an early Christmas present by scoring in the 87th minute in Birmingham to edge Aston Villa 2-1 for all three points. Thierry Henry scored at home in the 90th minute against Blackburn on Feb. 4, but the goal didn’t really mean much since it was the last tally in a 7-1 hammering of Blackburn.
But things returned to normal a week later in Sunderland when Henry scored the winner in a 2-1 win in the 90th minute. The other two games were the last pair against Liverpool and Newcastle. This means three of Arsenal’s last four league matches have all been won by scores of 2-1 and have all been decided in the final seconds of the games.
In addition, Arsenal has won six times so far this season after coming from behind. They’ve also done it a league-record four times in a row, with their wins over Sunderland, Spurs, Liverpool, and Newcastle all coming after they fell behind.
It seems that while other teams are busy trying to waste time in the last few minutes of matches the Gunners simply don’t give up. They play hard until the final whistle blows and more often than not it’s been very successful for them. There have been a few occasions when they’ve been forced to taste their own medicine though.
On Aug. 20 in the second game of the season Aaron Ramsey scored an own goal at home in the 78th minute and Luis Suarez added another in the 90th for a 2-0 Liverpool win. The following week at Old Trafford on Aug. 28, Wayne Rooney scored in the 82nd minute on a penalty kick and Ashley Young scored in the 90th when Manchester United humiliated the Gunners 8-2.
They also started 2012 off on the wrong foot in Fulham when they were leading 1-0 with just five minutes to go. However, Steve Sidwell tied the game for Fulham in the 85th minute and Bobby Zamora won it 2-1 in the 90th.  Also, Arsenal’s 2-1 loss at home on Jan. 22 came courtesy of an 81st minute goal by Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck.
I suppose the moral of the story is even if you’ve missed the first 79 minutes of an Arsenal match be sure to tune in for the last 10 minutes as you just never know what’s going to happen.

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