Mar 212010
 

Arsenal 2 (Denilson 5, Fabregas pen 83) West Ham 0
(Premiership)

For long periods of the first half, this game looked to be a stroll in the park. Ahead after only five minutes, Denilson exchanging passes with Bendtner before finishing impressively, we were cutting West Ham apart at will – only the final ball or finishing touch was preventing it becoming an memorable hammering.

And then in one instant, the game changed entirely. A long ball over the top saw Franco and Vermaelen chase for the ball, the Belgian tried to haul the striker back, missed, but Franco threw himself to the ground theatrically anyway. Martin Atkinson was on the half way line, but the linesman flagged for the penalty, indicating it was also worthy of a red card.

Where to start with that decision? Well, firstly, they bumped shoulders outside the box, so the resultant penalty was incorrect. Second, it wasn’t a foul, and third, Franco was never in control of the ball, so the red card was an awful decision.

I don’t actually blame Atkinson for the mistakes – he was miles away and reliant on his assistants. But as a team, they completely screwed it up to the point where even the anti-Arsenal ESPN brigade were calling it ‘harsh’. Harsh is certainly one word, but I’d go with another. Wrong.

We were shaken, and had the penalty gone in, we would have been level at the break, knowing that pressing forward with ten men would have been dangerous in the second half. But the much maligned Almunia came to our rescue with a stunning save – there was little wrong with Diamanti’s penalty, but the Spaniard clawed it away from the corner and our now slender-looking lead was preserved.

The second half, without wishing to resort to clichés, felt like a coming of age. Despite a numerical disadvantage, we controlled the match comfortably, West Ham having just one decent effort – Carlton Cole hitting the outside of the post although Almunia looked to have it covered.

In the end, we put the game to bed with another penalty, awarded for a blatant handball by Upson, who was very lucky to stay on the field having already been booked. No matter – Cesc buried the chance, and the points were secure.

For the second week running we’ve suffered at the hands of the referee and come away with the points regardless. Anyone who still believes that the major decisions go the way of the big clubs should analyse our penalty history this season. Time and time again we’ve been denied stonewall kicks, with the Eduardo embargo only recently lifted, while Hull have been gifted two of the softest penalties you’ll ever see. And that was before today.

So to come out the other side triumphant backs up what Wenger has long said about this group – they have character, and mental strength. It would have been easy to drop points last week and this, but we’ve kept on winning and we now sit proudly on top of the league. The pressure is on United and Chelsea, and the chances of both leapfrogging us tomorrow are slim given their tough fixtures.

As for personal performances, it really was the day for the previously lambasted to step up and show us we were wrong to ever doubt them. Bendtner held the line well, and his touch for Denilson’s goal was perfect. Eboue was menacing all day, and his direct style of running causes nightmares to opposing defences.

Almunia pulled off that vital penalty save, without which we would have been up against it, Diaby came on as a substitute and impressed, and Denilson was superb in the engine room, adding another goal from outside the box.

But the man of the match was the returning Alex Song, whose importance to the team cannot be overstated. Immense in the first half, he was an impregnable barrier yet also creative in our slick passing maneuvers. In the second, he was forced back into defence, yet slotted in as if he had played there all his life. In one notable incident, he made a terrific sliding tackle on the edge of the box with West Ham threatening, but in reality, the only reason the move had got to that point was that he was missing from the midfield. It is staggering how far he has come.

Having successfully overcome Song’s two match ban, and Vermaelen’s red card today (two of the three most important players in the squad, along with Cesc), we have to get negotiate a tricky trip to Birmingham next weekend with a backline missing our Belgian brick wall. Silvestre is likely to get the nod, with Wenger indicating that Campbell needs a rest:

“Sol Campbell was outstanding but to repeat the games could become a problem for him so I think I have to give him a big holiday next week to recover”

With Barcelona to come in the days after the Birmingham game, that break may last ten days. That would mean Silvestre and Song in central defence, with Denilson reprising today’s second half role, where in fairness he excelled.

But that is for another week. There is only one thing we should be looking at right now, and here it is:

Looks good, doesn’t it? Enjoy your Sunday.

  19 Responses to “Assured Arsenal survive another refereeing blunder to go top”

  1. Denilson was much improved but still not convinced. However, I think if he builds up his strngth then it might just happen.

    Diaby is the player with most potential. Great player and so pleased he’s coming through now

    Nasri is Arsene’s biggest headache cos he does not fit into this team when cesc plays down the middle. He can do a job but you don’t get the best out of him.

    Arshavin needs to be spoken to. He’s arrogant and needs to take more care in doing the basics. I think he’s a bit selfish and does not play for the team. somehow, clichy has realised this and has still managed to discipline himself keeping himself in sync with the rest of the team. Rosiky will play against Brum on the left

  2. anon;

    Give it a rest with your bullshit analysis. You are an amateur hansen and about as shite as the sad old twat.

    Nasri doesnt fit in? He was great GAIN today… Denilosoin was excelelent and Arshavin needs a a talking to??? Oh I bet you’d like to give him a dam hard talkin to wouldnt you?

  3. For how long can clubs put up with referee blunders before the authorities take action.Every weekend is littered with such underperformance by match officials. The refs committee shd hit them hard where it hurts ie. pockets.By that I mean deduction in the pay for blunders which could result in the outcome of the game.
    You never know. Some of these fellows in black have a hidden agenda eg stop Arsenal winning.
    Don’t be surprised.

  4. Iam a gunner. I don’t know ’bout the the sending off technicalities, but I think in general refs are disproprtionate in these situations. If you give a the opposition a penalty, why go further and deprive the offending team of an extra man. Isn’t this double punishment? even victims of shawcrossisque leg breaks do not get this type of double punishment.

  5. On the arsenal, I would ask you to cast your minds to last season when at the emirates we outplayed liverpool even better than yesterday after losing adebayor to a red card and fabregas to a clash with alonso. like yesterday,that day diaby was immense and liverpool were chasing shadows all of the 2nd half as we saw the gcontest thru. thus i wasnt that surprised yesterday.

  6. In the last four games we have survived 3 matches where refrees were horrible- Stoke for not giving our boys protection,Hull -horrendous decision to keep the flag down and the terrible penalty that ensued, Yesterday-unnecessary Vermaelan red. Ferguson would have gone nuts if this happened to his team.I do sometimes believe the refs are conspiring against us.

  7. Horrible referring again, but a great save by Almunia. as you said, Diamanti’s penalty was actually a good one, but an amazing save by Almunia.

    I thought Clichy was great as well yesterday. Didn’t put a foot wrong in the first half, and was very good in the second half as well.

    @Spike I think Wenger should talk to Arshavin. He’s been awful for most of the season despite the stats. He’s missed a truckload of chances, and has lost the ball quite often. In our half, he’s even worse, giving the ball away more often than not. Nor does he contribute defensively.

  8. The consensus on TV was that it was not a penalty and therefore not a sending off. WE should appeal the red card, there is little chance of it being deemed a frivolous appeal and every chance it will be over turned and allow Vermaellen to play next week.

  9. Its really up to the manager to show that he has the balls. I mean if u let ref get away with it they will do it again and again. Last week he should have lambasted them for manufacturing a penalty because there was no penalty (clear off-side). yesterday he should have done the same because the linesman (whatever they call him) got it wrong. A very minor contact was done outside 18 yards. Wenger should learn Fergie because I am sure if we had went on to lose that game he could have gone after them but because we won he things its ok. These days, unfortunately, you have to man-mark refs if u are to get a fair officiation. Looking at the refs face after he awarded a penalty to us he was like why should I be doing this to Arsenal. If u complain about refs when u lose it looks like u r just a bad loser but he have got to do even after winning has never happened with Wenger. Grow some balls Wenger.

  10. Yesterday I wanted Walcott to ome in for Arshavin. He was very lazy even though we were short. He is not a player we used to see last season. I would really swap him with a banana cake.

  11. I think we should hate denilson until he is sold, Even though he scores and playes well. it is not enough. He has to be messie for me to ever like him. Improvment just does not convince me he can ever be a great player. 7 goals this season just does not do it for me.

    I mean. How can anyone like a guy that plays like Denilson?
    And if you analyze it you will see that one match is just not enoug. its to little to late. right?
    It does not help to play well when you are such a bad player. It does not help to score goals when you such a bad goalscorer..
    I agree with anonymous we need to buy buy buy buy buy!!!!! new players new players new players!!!!!!!
    ITs vital we buy and splash cash! Even if we win te PL we not good enough !!!!
    I am one of those Arsenal fans that never are happy btw. god forbid we won, what would i do then? I bet i would not even be allowed to moan over Denilson..

  12. For those who think we should appeal the red card, I don’t think there’s a lot of point – it is too subjective to overturn.

    Anon, talk about over-critical. Nasri was great yesterday.

    Arshavin is an interesting one – I think you can take away a lot of his skill if you remove to ‘loose cannon’ style. He is different to the rest of the team and sometimes that is what’s needed.

    Fabgooner, you’re right, Clichy was excellent yesterday, over the last few games he really seems back on form.

  13. superfan are you by anychance a super spurs fan because Denilson is slowly but surely becoming a proper midfielder turning in back to back quality performances. yesterday the fellas pass success rate was 100% and that 1-2 with b52 around the box was straight out of Fabs repertoire. now we actually top of the league with seven to play and still you dont believe. why dont you get a season ticket over shite heart lane then you slag off arsenal players with like minded idiots

  14. We wait now for today,s (Sunday) clash of Trash.United and Luckypool with bated breath as to who the ref is at old Trafford and the decisions he makes under intense pressure from old big mouth Ferguson regarding penalties and crude tackles ?

  15. conor, I *think* superfan was being ironic. I hope so, anyway.

  16. I agree superfan Denilson is crap, will never ever be any good and i am sick to death with his game winning contributions.

  17. Denilson will come good. You’re tired of his match winning contributions? You’re a fart talking idiot. Song is a good example of a player whose improved from zero to hero. Simmer down

  18. Everybody seemed to miss Superfan’s sarcasm.

  19. superfan – did you see denilson play last season. he was one of the best for the whole season. this season he has a stinker but that doesnt mean he has to be sold. he is still young and he will improve! come on denilson come on arsenal!!!

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