Arsenal News Blog

fact and opinion intertwined

Average display secures 3 points

Posted by James Dall on 27, December 2006

A consecutive victory, the first since October…

Watching Arsenal these days when we are not in top gear is often a painful experience. We started ok, not bad but not great. Carving out a couple of opporunities, both of which were spurned. Watford were working very hard, they had opted for two pacey forwards. Rather them hoof in centrally to a target man, they were using the channels – Hoyte was guarding our right back area and was often exposed. He did not play badly but for me there were certain moments he could have moved positionally to help prevent a possible chance. Watford had begun to peg us back a bit, Rosicky and Hleb were hardly in the game and we were struggling to get the ball down. However, a slick move saw Fabregas through, his shot was saved and parried for a corner. The corner came in, was glanced on my Toure and Gilberto headed in far post. Excellent stuff! Not undeserved but kind of out of nowhere. The Sky commentators were annoying me greatly, talking some absolute nonsense.

Anyway Watford responded very quickly, somehow Bangura managed to turn Toure, THEN out pace him AND out muscle him – I was baffled to say the least. Hoyte for some unkown reason did not come across and double up on Bangura who crossed excellently, it was deflected and Smith got in front of a half asleep Clichy and poked home. After that the first half fizzled out, with us trying to get the ball down and play to no avail.

The second half saw the unusually below par Djourou taken off for Senderos. We played with a bit more tempo but still looked fragile down the wings. We created a fair few opportunities and Foster made a couple of decent saves. Theo came on for Hleb to give us a bit more energy and a bit later Baptista came on for Rosicky. Watford had an attack which was then broken down and fell to Theo wide and deep in our own half on the right hand side, he got it out of his feet and whipped a ball down the line. The Watford centre back tried to play offside but got it all wrong, van Persie was now bombing down the right and we all knew what he wanted to do (cut back onto his left), he did and then beautifully curled into the far corner. I went mental to be honest. I knew 3 points would be huge especially as Liverpool lost. We rode out the last ten and secured the win.

Right a key thing for me was the ref, Mike Dean. He was awful I thought. Making some terrible decisions, and then beyond belief added a further minute onto the supposed 3 mins injury time. Prat. He really bothered me – it is always nice to get a rant like that off your chest.

I fee some player ratings are in order –

Lehman – 7 – made a couple of decent saves, no chance with the goal

Hoyte – 5 – just not up to the standard, although Eboue is susceptible to mistakes he is better than this lad, bring back Lauren

Toure – 6 – nowhere near his best, made a few errors, just an off day, i forgive him

Djourou – 5 – looked uncomfortable for once, went off injured at half time

Clichy – 7 – I enjoyed his display, he got forward well and cut out most attacks down his side

Hleb – 5 – not really in the game, failed to impose himself

Fabregas – 7 – whenever he got the ball I felt he was going to find the right pass

Gilberto – 8 – ANOTHER captain’s display – genius

Rosicky – 5 – exactly the same as Hleb, did make one decent run though.

Adebayor – 6 – would have been a 7 if he had buried his one on one, worked so hard though, looked tired at the end

van Persie – 7 – brilliant goal, worked hard also

Subs – Senderos – 7 – played solidly, was like a rock, Walcott – 6 – great assist, gave us more energy, Baptista – 6 – almost made an immediate impact, although he played like ten mins he did play very well indeed.

So the theme really is we were poor defensively, although when we did actually go forward we looked dangerous. It will be an almost identical test on Saturday against Sheffield United.

The boss was obviously pleased and you can read his after match comments here. Right I need to crack on with an assignment. Have a good day.

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