Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Arsenal show character to beat Everton and Mason - Nasri's new deal latest

Morning Gooners.

How good did it feel last night at the final whistle? With the injustice of the goal Everton scored which was clearly off side, to come back from a goal down against a team who fought hard to maintain their lead showed us this team has the character needed to maintain a title challenge until the end of the season.

Whilst there are no stories today about how bad the refereeing of the game was, we all know Lee Mason had a shocker. It was the first time he's been in charge of a game at the Grove this season and hopefully after that rank display last night he won't be back for a long, long time.

It wasn't the fact he and his linesman conspired against us knowing they were wrong - the replay of the goal on the big screens clearly showed Saha was offside which both officials saw - but he got the smaller decisions wrong and persistent fouling to break up Arsenal's play went unpunished.

The crowd rightly turned on him but you won't see any stories about how bad their officiating was - after all what's "news" when a referee and his assistants have a shocker? Doesn't it happen every week somewhere?

It was so important we put what was a clear injustice behind us at half time and come out and play our own game for the second period. The players were clearly annoyed and it was affecting their game. The passing was off and movement going forward was non existent.

So Arsene Wenger's instructions at half time had an important baring on the game.

I didn't feel the game changed until the introduction of Andrey Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner. Those two made the difference for me. Arshavin looks like he's coming back into some form. I think those two assists against Ipswich made a huge difference.

You could see last night he was more confident and I wonder if he would have scored the equaliser ten days ago?

The pair helped stretch the game. They allowed more space to be created. Whilst Tomas Rosicky would make the play more narrow, Arshavin had instructions to play wider on the left.

And as the big Dane has an ariel threat, it was his run which drew the Everton defenders allowing space to be created for Laurent Koscielny.

It was amazing to see Arsenal score from a corner... It happens far to little.

So three points won. Pressure maintained on Manchester United who won 3-1 at home to Aston Villa. 

Whilst there are stories about Cesc Fabregas talking to the referee in a "disgusting way" and Arsene Wenger slating Chelsea over their spending, we know these are distracting stories which have no baring on our challenge for the title.

We are very much in the mix. Whisper it quietly, but Arsenal have a huge chance of winning the league this season.

Check out my player ratings from last night's match.

Elsewhere

The manager said last night Samir Nasri would be out of the Champions League first leg against Barcelona. There is also quotes from Nasri's agent doing the rounds that indicate he will sign a new five year deal with the club.

The manager said Theo Walcott and Alex Song would face fitness tests ahead of the weekend's trip to Newcastle.



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