Until the 44th minute I had the dreaded feeling that our problem of last season had come back to haunt us. it seemed we had lost the key to unlocking teams who parked the bus. Last year we either spent 80 minutes struggling to break the opposition down after they took a surprise lead. Although the score was still 0-0 we barely looked like scoring. Adebayor’s chacne in the 3rd minute aside we did not have anything clear cut at all. We passed the ball comfortably enough but never threatened Hahnemann. That was until the lads showed what they have added to their game this season. With Flamini making a crunching challenge that we saw far too few of last season the ball was worked to Adebayor who in turn unlocked the defence with a great ball to Hleb who duly fed Flamini to leave him to sweep in the opener.
Once this went in there was only going to be one result. Reading would be forced to come out and attack and we all know how good Arsenal are on the counter with the killer goal, our 1000th in the Premiership, coming from exactly this kind of attack. The movement and accurate passing summed up Arsenal at their best and was a fitting way to reach this landmark. However the goal was far more important for a very different reason. Adebayor had gone 8 games without a goal and this strike broke this drought. Having missed an early chance he did not let his head drop like most strikers would. He contiuned to try and fashion chances for himself and the team. His brilliant placed shot was just reward.
Yet again there was the debate about video replays; Adebayor scoring a perfectly good goal only to see it ruled out incorrectly. The ‘goal’ was something of beauty as we moved from one end of the pitch in a flash, too fast even for the linesman who only had to run from the half way line! This decision could have been costly had Hleb not created such a comfortable margin between the sides. Shorey made it 3-1 but had this made it 2-1 Reading had a good chance of a point. Can you imagine the uproar should this decision have cost us. I would not like to be the linesman had such a thing occured.
Before the game I called on Hleb, Rosicky and Fabregas to work the same magic they did last season at the Madejski. They ripped Reading to shreads last season and were at the forefront of anything good Arsenal did last night. They linked up well and seemed to know where they each might be at any time. Hleb made the first goal and scored the third, his goal coming after a wonderful cruyff turn past Hahnemann left the keeper with egg on his face. Rosicky and Cesc made the second and were a threat throughout. If Rosicky can stay fit, Hleb can keep up his impressive form and Fabregas can keep playing the way he is, these three could be crucial to any title challenge we may have. If Van Persie can come back aswell and continue where he left off then the front 5 of ‘The Three Musketeers’, Adebayor and RVP can be a huge problem for any side.
They have the assurance of Flamini behind them who once again was outstanding. He broke up play when required and showed he has no trouble joining in the passing play with the other midfielders when required. The defence seems solid and the scrap of a goal Reading scored was a small blot on what has been a good season at the back. We need a solid foundation both up front and at the back for any sort of title challenge to materialise. So far so good. We go into the International break on top and I just pray for no more injuries before the wigan match.
To finish off I just wanted to say well done to Cesc for getting the yellow card. If there was a game to miss it was Wigan with 5 difficult fixtures coming up. He clearly was aiming to get the card – deliberately giving the ref no chance but to card him. The kids a smart guy aswell as a great footballer!
Almunia – 6 – not much to do all evening really
Sagna – 6 – solid once again, didnt get forward as much as maybe he could have
Gallas – 7 – won every ball in the air and looked comfortable
Toure – 7 – assured all night and tried to start attacks from the back
Clichy – 7 – stopped all threat down his flank with his pace and got forward a bit
Eboue – 6 – needs to be more direct and wasted a few shotting opportunities
Flamini – 8 – outstanding once again – got a goal to add to his brilliant defensive work
Fabregas – 7 – sat a bit deeper than usual to dictate play well
Rosicky – 7 – linked well with team mates and contributed to the second goal and other attacking chances
Hleb – 8 – a threat all evening, set up one and scored another after sublime footwork
Adebayor – 8 – he started slowly but got better as the game wore on, scored a great goal