Arsenal’s nemesis put to sword

I’ve got about five minutes to tip-tap on my keyboard, so here goes.

Another fantastic performance from the lads last night. In the first half it was vintage Arsenal (not that you can call a midfield pairing of 18 and 20 years old vintage, but I think you know what I mean). We scored one, should have scored more. Then in the second half, despite more pressure from the home side, we half battened down the hatches and half stung Bolton on the break. It looked like it would be enough when Baptista was felled for a pen, but Gilberto thought he was Jonny Wilkinson and the ball went scudding skywards. Then those wanting to watch the Ten O’Clock News were knocked back by Bolton’s equaliser. Not much to say about that other than it was way into injury time.

But that’s Arsenal for you. In extra time we took over again, winning another penalty, also projected 45 degrees into the stars, this time by Baptista. Note to Gilberto and Baptista: gentlemen, tune your penalty radars.

Never mind eh, because Ali Oh Dear came on to great effect, tip-toed past several players on the left and inchedperfected a pass to someone who really is vintage Arsenal – Freddie Ljungberg – who then whacked a left-footed shot past their keeper that was so exact I swear he couldn’t do it again if he tried twenty consecutive times. Finally, as kitchen sinks were making appearances down at the Almunia end, Baptista and Adebayor broke and the former passed to the latter for a simple knock-in.

Adebayor was unbelievably good last night, scoring twice, missing an absolute sitter and causing havoc. but it’s the midfielders Denilson and Diaby who deserve the most mention as they were sensational, Denilson in particular. We really do have a gem on our hands. He made space and passed expertly right up to extra time, when he finally tired. I forgive him that.

Everyone was excellent, to be fair, though to me Baptista looked a little leggy (or as Richard Williams puts it in the Guardian, “cumbersome”). His positioning is good and his footwork is pretty impressive too, but he just seems a yard slow in pace and thought at the moment. In his defence, he’s barely got going this season (seven starts only), and he’s still managed to score seven goals, so he deserves some credit too. I still think Wenger will sign him permanently as he offers power and gets into good positons – but I think he’ll need to do more to cement a first-team slot.

Right, must dash. I enjoyed last night, my red-and-white valentine.

Come on you rip-roaring reds.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.