Arsenal snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and bring back Jens Lehmann!

Any fair analysis of our current set of performances and results will leave Gooners under no misconception of our likely finishing position this season. We should make the champions league placings above Aston Villa. I disagree with Arsene Wenger that we are Premiership title prospects. We can finish second if the results go our way, but to win the title, we would have to go upon a run of thirteen straight victories to do that. The way that our defence is conceding goals at the moment, I cannot see that happening. The same problems are there, a shaky Keeper, not good enough for the back four to have confidence in him. A back four that is never the same two games running, and of course the absence of a strong midfielder to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Success begins at the back. The defence requires the loose players to be picked up, or at least we should get to the ball before them. Set pieces require a towering presence between the goal posts, and Almunia is I’m afraid just minutes away from conceding a howler. We can complain about the draw for it was two points given away when we had for once been given luck in huge doses. Aston Villa should have scored four times in the first half. The first after 5 minutes when ex Gunner Steve Sidwell beat Alex Song to the corner and his header cannoned like a pin ball off the angle of the near post upright followed by the back of Denilson’s head. The second came after 11 minutes when an unmarked Curtis Davies missed his header and the ball was deflected off his left shoulder and out of play. After 34 minutes James Milner found himself unmarked on the far right side of the Arsenal’s  box and his shot hit the bottom of the post and rebounded into Almunia’s arms instead of off his shoulders into the goal.
Arsenal’s midfielders toiled under the pressure from Petrov and Barry. Yet despite Villa’s best efforts, Song and Denilson held firm with Diaby making timely contributions. Denilson’s desire was rewarded after 40 minutes when he made a pacy courageous run on the left side just outside the box, to dispossess Reo-Coker and drive a low left footed shot beneath Brad Friedel to open the scoring much against the run of play. Denilson celebrated near the corner flag with some nifty samba footsteps. The next seven minutes before the interval saw Song retire with a thigh muscle injury. Aaron “Rambo” Ramsey coming on to replace him. Almunia flapped at a cross and it needed a spectacular bicycle overhead kick off the line by my Arsenal man of the match Bacary Sagna to save Almunia’s blushes.
Half Time –  Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 1 (Denilson 40’)
It was five minutes after the restart that Diaby showed his class. Deep in his own half and on the right touchline, he nutmegged the Villa midfielder with a cheeky back heel and set Eboue running like a hare down the channel. Eboue’s final touch was perfectly weighted for Diaby to receive and he made a sublime chip over Brad Friedel for Arsenal’s deserved second goal. Diaby’s celebration with the travelling away support saw him get a yellow card.
Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2 (Diaby 48’)
Arsenal now began to dominate midfield and despite Almunia, the defence held on until the 65th minute when Gallas found himself on the wrong side of Agbonlahor. His clumsy challenge inside the box meant that all Gareth Barry had to do was smash the ball past Almunia to recover a goal for the Birmingham Claret and Blues.
Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2 (Barry 65’)
The fourth official held up the board to show an extra four minutes and all Gooners were dreading what was inevitably going to follow. Arsenal cannot hold onto a lead because of the poor defensive morale. In the 92nd minute Zat Knight hit a wonderful ball past Almunia having received a deflection from Sagna in the box. Arsenal were outnumbered by the Villa attackers, and it was this concession and the manner of it that hurt Arsenal the most. We had rode our luck, we deserved to be well behind after the first half, but we had clawed our way back to a winning position. We threw away the chance to make up ground on the leading pack, with a lack of concentration at the death.
Full time Aston Villa 2 Arsenal 2 (Knight 92′)
Where to now? Well there are many positives to take from this game. The midfield performance of Song, the desire of Denilson, and the finishing of Diaby. We lack a decent keeper and I have predicted that Fabianski will take over the number one spot from Almunia in 2009. Jens Lehmann for all his faults would have given our makeshift back four more confidence. The fact is that we are yet to have a run of games with a settled back four. There have been too many enforced changes through injury. A defensive midfielder and a goal scorer is required. I would like to see Craig Bellamy, Mikel Arteta and Matt Upson come into our team. Jaaskaleinen as the goalkeeper thus making four players with ready made premiership experience.(I was only joking about bringing back Jens Lehmann!) The failure to beat Aston Villa was disappointing only because we should have managed to keep a clean sheet for three minutes by playing possession football. We didn’t, so congratulations to Aston Villa. They deserved at least a draw for their efforts in the first half.
Tomorrow should see us destroy Tony Adam’s Portsmouth at the Emirates. We will definitely make the top four placings, and I’m off to place a bet on Arsenal to win the FA cup. We are 33 /1 outsiders for the Premier League, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd all winning. What hurts is to hear the commentators now refer to the big three rather than the big four. We have been written off, and those who know me, will realise what that means… When the going gets tough, The Arsenal get going! We will win something this season, despite the injuries to Eduardo, Rosicky, Fabregas, Song, and Djourou. Adebayor will be back hungrier than ever as the January transfer window gives him a chance to show off his wares. We could even win the Champions League if we make the right signings. Realistically however, Gooners must go all out and support our team loudly to ensure a top four finish, and they will deliver something quite unexpected, you have to keep the faith, without doubt the signs of recovery are there…
Fabregas the King.

LOGIN to Comment
LOGIN to Comment