Cham’s shimmy seals big three points

Arsenal 2-1 Birmingham City

It is undeniable that after two league defeats, and with a trip to Middle Eastlands looming, a win against Birmingham was not only much needed but also a blessed relief. We did, however, make heavy weather of a game we should have won more easily. We should never have been scrabbling to hold onto the three points in the last few minutes, but scrabbling we were.

Wilshere was the creative fulcrum throughout the game, ruining an otherwise excellent performance with a rash challenge and a red card. He was very contrite but he now needs to learn from it. It wasn’t ‘unfortunate’ or ‘one of those things’ – it was a bad challenge.

To lose such a player for three games is a big blow – which just goes to show how crucial he is becoming. That he is arguably our player of the season so far tells you a lot about his remarkable talent, and also a fair bit about the bitty stop-start way many Arsenal players have begun this campaign.

But what of the performance? MOTD highlights made it look a lot more incisive than it felt from where I was sitting. Faced by a resolute defence, we once again struggled a bit.

You may have noticed they’ve changed the pre-match build-up routine at the Arsenal, restoring Fatboy Slim’s Right Here Right Now to prominence as the song the teams walk out to, and demoting Elvis’ The Wonder of You down the billing. Part of this lengthened countdown to kick-off now includes a montage of famous Arsenal goals – including some of the incisive, direct rapier strikes that were the hallmark of the Henry and Pires era.

Then the match starts and you are quickly reminded how much the style of this side differs to the one of its Invincible predecessors.

The Arsenal of those years was noted for its lightning breaks and defence-splitting passes, more often than not tucked away by the admittedly untouchable Thierry Henry. We were direct, we were fast, we went for the jugular.

We can of course still score goals like that, but I do feel the Arsenal of 2010 seems, at times, to have lost that art. Yesterday was a fine example. Some fabulous build-up play, more often than not orchestrated by the sublime skills of Jack Wilshere, foundered time and again on the rocks of indecision on the edge of the D.

D, incidentally, is for Diaby – a player particularly prone to another word beginning with D – dallying. So much of what he does, outmuscling and outrunning his man and one-twoing hither and thither, is genuinely excellent. And he was at times very good yesterday. When he does go for goal, he can score a belter – remember the ones he scored at Anfield, and Villa Park? So why doesn’t he do it more often?

Maybe I’m being too simplistic. Teams often come to the Emirates with caution, aiming to hit us on the break, knowing that more often than not we will concede. So splitting teams in half is perhaps harder said than done and lord knows, we do not have a player with the speed, strength and skill of Thierry Henry in his pomp.

Nevertheless, the amount of times we get to the edge of the box but look to make that extra pass, or look up and take an extra touch – well, suffice to say we do this too often. Camping outside the opponents’ box will only yield rewards so many times.

That it did yesterday was down to a soft penalty and a wonderful piece of ping-pong between Wilshere and Chamakh.

Maybe this is why, at least in part, we get so excited about Walcott. He’s the most direct player we have, a genuine wing flier, and by running at a defence he can cause terror against tiring opponents.

Nevertheless, stylistic frustrations aside, it was a good win, hopefully a springboard win, and if you look at the table this evening you will see that, despite having won only 50% of our matches this season, we are third in the table, only five points off the pace. Tablistically, a good day.


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

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. La Gooner

    Excellent post.
    It definitely was a great result apart from how we got it. But as you put it, this should be a springboard win. We should build upon this and catty on. Harder and tougher opponents are coming thick and quick so we should be on our toes.
    Very nice statistics there, 50% win ratio and third ! not bad after all !
    Keep up the good work mate.

  2. Tomas

    Very good piece. I would imagine following another poor show by Arshavin, a spot on the bench would be in line with the doctor’s orders. Bring on Rosicky!

  3. chika

    finally, we have a player in chamakh who ceases every opportunity to win us a match. i know he sometimes dives easily to con the ref, but it is about time we had a player who refuses to be honest. so far this season chamakh has won us 5 penalties which is simply awesome. so long may it continue and he will win us games in crucial times.

  4. RotorGoat

    I’m Arshavin’s biggest apologist but you’re right – he had a stinker.

  5. argonaut

    I’m hoping that Arsene starts giving JET a few games. I have a feeling his best hope in cementing a first team place would be in replacing Diaby.

  6. Indian Gunner

    Yes Arshavin had a bad game…But I expected arsene to rest him for this match as he had played two matches for russia…Probably now he should be rested for mid week CL and have him fresh for Man city…He is a match winner and we need him against City…

  7. Steve Palmer

    Arsenal had everything that England never, from the back, crisp penetrating forward passing, but alas not a lot insid the box, the passing is awsome to watch, but the finnishing is dire, i must add that since Chamakh has arrived he has found other ways of scoreing, not every body likes it but what can he do, imagine what the score would be if they ever find the missing link.With all the talk in the papers about match fixing from players to officials, makes you think a bit dos’nt it.

  8. GARY C

    We took “tippy tappy” football to new heights of absurdity on Saturday. Why is there this morbid fear of having a shot, unless you’re in the oppo’s 6 yard box?

  9. Gaurav

    Absolutely agree on your views on Diaby, exactly what I thought…Was actually surprised over bloggers didnt talk abt it more…I remember a point which Diaby could play AA23 through right at the centre of goalmouth..but he chose to delay his pass and when he eventually passed, it was too close for Foster to collect…Well its a different altogether that even if Diaby’s passed AA23 wouldn’t have scored…

Comments are closed.