Sunday, 29 April 2012

A good point -Famous atmosphere? Yeah right! -Superb traveling Gooners -Diaby crocked?

Morning Gooners.

A point in the circumstances was not a bad result...
When you consider that Stoke have lost only once at home against a team in the top nine (Newcastle), drawn with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea and beaten Spurs, Liverpool and Fulham, with Everton the only top half team to play, I don't think yesterday's result was bad. We've not been in sparkling form and it was a tough game. Considering we could have lost at the end when Sagna had to clear off the line, I'd take a point.

The handbrake was well and truly on...
We looked timid going forward. We lacked directness and that was a major factor against Stoke as it was against Chelsea. If Rosicky wasn't driving at the defence, no one else would do it. The early season spark that Gervinho seemed to have to run at players seems to have been lost (or coached out of him) and Benayoun seems to be happy to take the ball wide rather than inside. Diaby does run at defenses but didn't have that much of an opportunity to do it when he came on. Having two shots on target in the second half really is poor from a team with Arsenal's resources.

A solid defensive display...
Stoke's game plan was easy to work out. Hit it long to Crouch then get around him to win the second ball. However Arsenal had their plan worked out quickly enough and won those second balls. Koscielny and Vermaelen did well enough against the Stoke striker (I'm sure TV5 would have hoped to have done better for the goal - he was watching it back on the big screen) but overall keeping a home team down to two shots on target (their first shot on Szczesny was their goal) isn't bad at all.

We're limping over the line into third...
Last weekend many were bemoaning a point against Chelsea but it turned out to be a good weekend for us as Spurs lost against QPR. With Wigan continuing their fine run of form with the 4-0 demolition of Newcastle, our destiny is still in our own hands. Yes, if all of the team below us win their games in hand it will look very tight at the top. However those games aren't easy as our own result yesterday proved. Win against Norwich next weekend and we'll be well on our way to finishing third.

We played 4-4-2!
When Wenger made the third and final substitution we switched to 4-4-2, the first time we've done that in a long time with van Persie and Chamakh up front and Rosicky and Santos on the wings. Diaby and Song marshaled the midfield. You can understand why Wenger wanted to mix it up a little - our game plan had only produced our one goal. However there were only four crosses played in once Chamakh came on - we know the Moroccan can be deadly in the air - one of which was successful. Having two big players in Song and Diaby in the centre would allow Wenger to play 4-4-2 more often, but I doubt it's a formation we'll see much of.

I like the look of Santos on the left of midfield...
In the last two games the Brazilian has come on in front of Kieran Gibbs and made two decent cameos on the left hand side of midfield. He's been busy, got involved in the game and offered us something slightly different to what our natural attacking players have to offer. I'm not suggesting the manager should play him there on a more permanent basis but I certainly think he's an option as a substitute.

Diaby... he's as fragile as tissue paper!
I think everyone will agree it's not his fault he's injured so much. It's all down to that "tackle" by Dan Smith. But he's such a brilliant player to watch when he's in full flight and running at defences. He does offer us something different going forward from midfield, if only he could string a run of games together I'm sure he'd be such a vital player. But at the end it appeared he ended up injured and limping off the pitch. Let's hope he's not out for too long.

Where's your famous atmosphere?
I was really unimpressed by the atmosphere at the Britannia Stadium. Only once did the home fans sing their famous rendition of Delilah. They seemed to be more content with booing Aaron Ramsey (especially in the second half) or mimicking and abusing Arsene Wenger.

Traveling Gooners...
What can I say that hasn't been said already? I love going away because our fans are brilliant. We sing our hearts out (I was losing my voice at the end of the first half), we engage in witty banter with the home support and give it to Ryan Shawcross. There was a banner at the stadium which said the home support were the team's 12th man. That wasn't the case yesterday. Us Gooners were the ones there to support our team. The home fans were so poor.

Onwards and upwards...
Stoke is never an easy fixture and now we've got that out of the way we have to beat Norwich at the Grove next weekend. We're not over the line yet but we're getting there.

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