Sunday, 11 December 2011

It's 1-0 to "boring, boring" Arsenal as wacky Szczesny kisses RVP's boot

Morning Gooners.

It's not every day your football team celebrates it's 125th anniversary and yesterday was a very special day in the history of our club as we remembered our humble beginnings right through to the latest era in our modern stadium in front of a 60,000+ crowd.

No doubt there will be a few hangovers this morning. It was the last chance for many of us Gooners to gather together before Christmas and there was a party atmosphere in the Grove pre-match. The club did a fantastic job in organising the celebrations which saw former players from previous eras parade on to the pitch.

Fitting too that Howard Webb made the pre-game coin toss with a sixpence. And the great-grandchildren of David Danskin, Arsenal’s founding father, carried out the match ball to the centre circle prior to kick off.

Arsene Wenger made one enforced change to the side which comprehensively beat Wigan last weekend with Andre Santos forced out through injury, Johan Djourou came into the side. The Swiss international played right back, Thomas Vermaelen took Santos' place on the left and Laurent Koscielny moved into the middle alongside Per Mertesacker.

It was a dull game brought to life only by Arsenal's attacking movements. Everton didn't pose much of a threat going forward. In the first half there were chances for Gervinho (twice), Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott - none of whom could find the back of the net.

At half time the score was level. It was again Wenger's men who were the ones who were making all the running at the start of the second period. Vermaelen and Walcott with the best of the efforts before Everton tried to shut up shop with the introduction of Sylvain Distin.

That plan was thwarted by man of the moment or should that be man of the calendar year, Robin van Persie. Alex Song brough the ball forward into the Everton area from a Koscielny pass. The midfielder tossed the ball into the Dutchman who was hanging off the back of the defender just outside the area. With a flash of his left boot, the ball flew into the far corner of the net. It was a stunning volley.

Pandemonium ensued as Robin's new song was sung, followed by a chorus of one-nil to the Arsenal.

Vermaelen had a header effort at goal go begging before the Belgium international was substituted for Ignasi Miquel after coming off worse in an aerial challenge with Marouane Fellaini. Van Persie flashed an effort high and wide and that was it.

One-nil to the Arsenal it ended. A fitting score line which is synonymous with our history.

We're now in fourth place, the first time we've reached the heady heights of a Champions League spot this season.

Afterwards the manager said:
"Overall we created many chances in the first half, and the players were a bit disappointed at half-time that we did not score. In the second half, Everton played deeper and gave us less room, we lacked a bit of team pressure to get them out of position.  
"We needed something special. I was always confident we would score, but I am very pleased we kept composure and did not give a goal chance away."
A dull and boring game on the whole. It's a shame we didn't sing "Boring, boring, Arsenal" because that was what it was, brought only to life by Robin van Persie's goal. We're hammered for being a one man team but when a player like van Persie is on fire it's not as though the manager is going to drop him to give others a chance.

Our formation doesn't allow for two strikers, so of course RVP will be getting the majority of the goals. However it's not as though we didn't have chances for others to score.

I don't think our defence has ever been as comfortable as they were yesterday. They'll face a test next weekend though. Special praise must go to Alex Song who I thought had an excellent game alongside The Boss.

Aaron Ramsey had a game to forget and Theo is coming on stronger and stronger. If only we could get Gervinho to finish better, he'd have a hat full of goals.

A special word for Wojciech. He's mad! At the end of the game he bent down and kissed RVP's left boot. Last weekend he led the away support in a rendition of "We're by far the greatest team..." and now this. The man is a cult hero and fast becoming one of my favourite players.

The executives and board should also get special praise. I thought that yesterday's celebrations were excellent and really well thought through. Yet again we showed the world of football how things should be done.

There is a couple of bits of transfer tittle-tattle around. The Sunday Mirror suggest Real Madrid have an interest in signing Robin van Persie. Whilst The People say we're to lose out in the race to sign Yann M'Vila because Jose Mourinho is after him as well.

The Sunday Telegraph have outdone themselves with their coverage of our anniversary and there is plenty of extra reading to be had. All their articles are interesting from Ivan Gazidis, to Liam Brady to Ken Friar and then back to Gazidis on Wenger.

And after Alan Smith's excellent interview with Tony Adams yesterday, the Sunday Mirror have spoken to the great man, who insists he would only consider a return to Arsenal if he ever worked in England again.

After all the excitement of the last week we now have seven days to wait until we play again. But it's certainly one to look forward to as we head to Manchester City. Enjoy your Sunday.

Follow Ashburton Grove on Twitter, chatting Arsenal throughout the day. To receive the blog everyday you can subscribe via e-mail or take the RSS feed to your favourite reader.

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