Sir Abou, as I shall respectfully call him from now on, earned his right to wear the glorious red and white shirt of Arsenal last night with the prestigious cannon emblazoned on its chest; once upon a time it would have had the words Victoria Concordia Cresit, underneath, although, until the goal the words victory through frustration rather than victory through harmony might have been more appropriate. This may seem a bit harsh, especially if you saw the high-lights on MOTD which managed to make the game look exciting but if you were there, I have to tell you, that for the first seventy minutes it was tough going for the spectator.
The first half was marked only by the chance that fell to Bendtner who lashed it over the bar, we were playing like a team, that unsurprisingly after the last two drubbings, were completely lacking in confidence but fortunately as hard as we tried we just couldn’t make Liverpool look good. Recent results may indicate to many a neutral that we are not as good as Manu or Chelsea but thankfully we have not fallen so far that we will be thought of as being worse than Liverpool.
The goal, the goal, the goal it was all about the goal maybe the fine save that Almunia pulled off from a rasping shot from Babel or the tackle timed to perfection by Gallas deserve a mention but I am sure you would agree nothing was more important than the goal — it changed everything.
It wasn’t expected, attacks were ebbing and flowing and the build up looked as though it was going to whither into nothing in the same way that every other attack that we had mounted had done so far, the ball was bobbling around Liverpool’s penalty area when it bounced kindly to Bendtner who played it to Rosicky on the right wing who, in turn, sent over an inch perfect cross to be met by the on coming, and now Knight of the realm, Sir Abou Diaby — the relief was tangible; the players, coaching staff and fans alike went wild, we were in the lead; can you remember the last time we went in the lead, I couldn’t then and I can’t now.
Suddenly the confidence returned, chests were pushed out, passes found their man and the world of football as we know it started to look a much better place. The goal, as you can imagine, was Liverpool’s cue to stop time wasting, get the kitchen sink out and throw it at us as hard as they could, but no matter what came our way, and that included Gerrard cheating as much as he could, we stood firm.
Results couldn’t have been kinder on the night which puts us just five points behind Chelsea who I see as far more likely league winners than manu but as we know our run in is far better then theirs so perhaps it is apt to say that rumours of Arsenal’s demise might have been a little premature.
Player ratings…….and they are low for a reason.
Almunia: it’s funny how Coco looks better when we win but considering we have got more Poles than Spearmint Rhino surely one of them has got to claim the number one jersey next season…….I know, I know, I have been desperate to find a way of getting that one in. Lol. 5
Eboue: with Sagna looking jaded, Eboue’s inclusion was predictable and necessary; he offers so much more offensively than Sagna. One of the things that made me laugh was that with about 10 minutes to go he was hobbling around holding his leg waving to the bench indicating that he wanted to be replaced, the ball finally went out for a throw and we expected to see the last of Eboue but to everyone’s surprise Wenger who had obviously seen this all before was having none of Eboue’s antics replaced Bendtner for Sagna and you know what……surprise, surprise within two minutes Eboue was running perfectly. 5.5
Gallas: Billy boy was back to his self today, strong, commanding, determined and if there was a category for tackle of the season he would have won it; the perfection in which he took the ball from Ngog was world class. 6
Vermaelen: this man clearly wants to win the league; he hasn’t suffered the disappointments that so many of the others have and sees no reason why we shouldn’t. I agree with him. 6
Clichy: and as if to prove my point that it is funny how players that you have been questioning look better when we win, Gael finally put in a half decent performance. 5.5
Song: Stuck to his job of protecting the back four and did it very well, he seems to have cut out those silly unnecessary bad passes as well, I still maintain that by the time he is twenty six he will be one of the best in the world in his position. 6
Fabregas: turned back into the captain for the last twenty minutes, still too sloppy in his passing for my liking something he never used to do when Henry was at the club, I don’t know why that is? 6
Diaby: and so we come to the man of the match, gone where the sloppy passes, gone was holding onto the ball too long, gone was the lazy persona and on came the crisp tackler, the determined runner and the insightful passer, ladies and gentleman, I give you Sir Abou Diaby the midfielder we all hoped he would be. 8
Bendtner: sadly Nikky is never going to be Drogba or Torres; he doesn’t have the speed of turn but tonight he gave us a target man and played his part in the goal. 5
Arshavin: freed from the confines of playing the loan striker he was able to be more influential in the game, although, I think he is trying too hard, that’s to say I would like him to go back to doing the simple things well, too many passes are not finding their man. 5
Nasri: not on the pitch long enough to award a mark but what he did he did well enough.
Walcott: if Diaby can turn the opinion of a tide of doubters around; of which, I am included, then maybe there is hope for Theo.
Conclusion: one word…..relief.