Apr 152010

Spurs 2 (Rose 10, Bale 47) Arsenal 1 (Bendtner 85)


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. Despite being written off on at least three occasions, and facing a quite obscene injury list, we’ve stayed in the title hunt until April 14, not a bad feat by any stretch, but the dream is now over. And with it is our frankly hilarious unbeaten record against Spurs.

It had to end sometime, and thanks to a combination of disciplined defending, and a lack of creativity on our part, it was actually fairly comfortable for them until the latter stages. While they created little, early goals in both halves meant they didn’t need to, and could instead focus on keeping us out. As they defended more and more narrowly, we continued to attempt to thread the ball through the eye of the needle, and repeatedly ran into a brick wall. Even the missing Cesc and Arshavin would have struggled to find the pinpoint pass we needed.

And then, in the final twenty minutes, Van Persie made his return to the side after five months out, and contrary to the suspicion that he might take some time to get back up to speed, he transformed the match, forcing the previously unemployed Gomes into a string of stunning saves that prevented a turnaround of Herculean proportions. A remarkable stop from Van Persie’s volley was followed by another brilliant save to keep out his perfectly placed free kick. Campbell’s header was then tipped on to the bar before Van Persie was again denied from distance.

The difference between the opening seventy minutes and the last twenty could not have been more marked, and makes you wonder what might have been had the Dutchman played a greater role in our season. Even Andy Gray suggested that taking Rooney, Drogba and Torres out of their respective teams would see them come crashing down, so it is all the more impressive that we’ve been in the fight so long.

It is no coincidence that prior to his injury, we were headed towards a century of league goals, a feat we have not come close to since that fateful international friendly.

But we still put ourselves in trouble with some poor defending for both goals. While I don’t believe Almunia was at fault for the first – having decided to punch he did it well, and did not see Rose’s fizzing return – we were opened up too easily to concede the corners in the first place. And for the second, it seemed Sagna was still in the half time dressing room, playing Bale on by a country mile and allowing the easiest of finishes.

In the meantime, we were threatening little. Campbell had an early effort blocked, but the only other time we got behind them in the first half, Kaboul accepted a yellow by deliberately bringing Rosicky down to halt the play. And for much of the second half, we passed and passed in the final third, but could not find a way to penetrate their line.

Rosicky was toiling away but having one of those days when it wasn’t happening for him, Eboue also tried his hardest but more often than not made the wrong decision. Denilson and Diaby struggled, while Nasri showed some sparky moments but could not grab the game by the scruff of the neck as Cesc does. Perhaps it is harsh on him to expect that at this stage.

The most impressive performers, Van Persie apart, were at the back. Clichy was back to his imperious best, running the left flank while mopping up after Silvestre’s mistakes. But the star of the show was Sol Campbell, who was forced to control the defence after Vermaelen went off with a calf injury that may end his season. Even at 35, Sol’s fight shone through, summed up beautifully in the dying moments, when he outpaced Gareth Bale on the wing. Time and time again he won the headers, the tackles and the races, answering the questions raised when he was re-signed back in January.

Frankly, with Gallas and Silvestre likely to leave in the summer, I’d give him another year.

I have to be honest – even before tonight I thought it unlikely that Chelsea would drop enough points to let us back in. But now that the title challenge has come to an end, I’m struck with thoughts of what have have been. If you were asked to select the six outfield players that would be the first names on the teamsheet, you would probably come up with Gallas and Vermaelen at the back, Song and Cesc in the centre, and Arshavin and Van Persie up front. For more than half the game, none of the six were on the field. Only Song and Van Persie are likely to feature again this season.

The injury situation has been ridiculous, which is why I’m going to steer clear of criticising the squad too heavily for failing to bring in a trophy. Wenger had to de-prioritise the FA Cup with the fixture list piling up, we ran into Barcelona in the Champions League, and ultimately, we’ve dropped points in the league  that the likes of Van Persie might have saved us from. Our rivals have not had the same problems, and for that reason I’m proud of what they’ve achieved this season.

There will be issues to sort in the summer (mainly at the back), but that is some time away. We still have four games to play.

Speaking of issues, I have a bone to pick with Sky’s Martin Tyler who, seconds after the Spurs fans boomed out a stadium-wide rendition of ‘Sit down you paedophile‘, decided it was a good time to say that the atmosphere was vibrant. No Martin, it wasn’t vibrant, it was poisonous, and when millions of your viewers can clearly hear what is being sung, I suggest that you don’t condone it.

So there we have it – the title race is over (although we can still take second), the unbeaten run against Spurs is over, and you could argue that our season has effectively gone the same way. As for Spurs, they may be celebrating tonight, but they are still outside the top four, so let them have their moment, release their inevitable DVD, and enjoy the Europa League next season. We’ll have bigger fish to fry.

Stay positive.

  35 Responses to “Van Persie gives us a glimpse of what might have been”

  1. Well said mate. I think I would retire now after this very positive analysis.

  2. Spurs aren’t even that good! and no Rvp changed nothing tonight, the dream is over but fools keep dreaming. Change is required.

  3. I absolutely love Robin Van Persie. He embodies everything that is Arsenal. Technique, Intelligence, Desire. If the man stays fit he can torment any defense day in and day out. It seems bleak with Cesc, Arshavin William, and Thomas out for significant spells but I’m very much looking forward to our last few games hoping that Song and Van Persie star like they did at the start..

  4. Everything you said is Spot on !! You think exactly like me mate :) A solid Goalkeeper ( i want lloris ) a great and big defender ( i want hangelend or zapata ) and chamakh and a season without injuries for long term , Next Season Arsenal will be Champions !!

  5. Can we now be realistic and buy good players.For how long will we hide behind saying we are developing players?This is turning out to be a disgrace for this once mighty club.

  6. good analysis mate. I think a good centre back is what we lack and our list of injuries needs to to be reduced.

  7. i still cannot understand…football is not about ifs and buts…its not about who got injured and who could have don wonders if he played…and its not about moans like wenger spits out after every loss…sometimes it conceding cheap goals, sometimes he says we have a young team and sometimes he laments about the pitch…

    i think has seriously lost the plot…he is some state of delirium when he says he wants to play beautiful football and trophies are not significant…

    belittling trophies like carling cup and FA cup…that is not really sporty…in the end and 6th year in a row we are still beggars…its the same old story…

  8. ———–Lloris————-

    = WOW and what would probably cost us (Lloris)9m/12m + (Sakho or Zapata) 10m!!
    = circa 20m

    Sell – Denilson (5m) and a bunch of free leavers in Gallas, Silvestre, Merida, possibly Campbell

  9. Brilliant post btw…very much along my thoughts also. Only people with as bad an injury campaign but still not close was Man Utd and there early central defence problems but we were still far worse off…. ALL season

  10. Well said, I also thought chelsea would eventually win it. Now we better just enjoy the last 4 games as Arsenal play best when the pressure is off. I dont know if we can call that a weakness?

  11. I wonder why some fans still say we are in huge debt while the bord and even wenger said we have money to spend. We cant blame it on injury every club have there own injury list our broblem is that our first 11 are miles away from there backups let’s take the club toping the log for example they lost their first choice left and right full back a defencive mildfeder and 1 central defender if this is to happen to us we all know how worse our defence is going to be when we have traore and ebue defending fo us. Chelsea are not outstanding but is thier squad depth that kept them to this time despite our injury up front wev’e score more goal than them but look at goal difference all we need now is 1 keeper 2 defender and 1 or 2 mildfider chamark is certain so we dont need striker. We have so many mildfider but the real ones are jurt song ramsey and fabregas it’s not all about age cause this 3 are young its all about comitment and quality. One thin wenger has refuse to understand is that potential cant win trophy. His policy is not bad but we want young player with quality not potetial. Example of young player with quality are fabregas, song, ramsey, messi, jack rudwell vermelin, pato. To mention few i think is time we stop buy potential and watch out for quality. So because we have no depth we could not rotate and that leed to our injury this is the out come when players play trough pain so many of our player has play trough pain this season gallas, faaregas vamelin,song,nasri and arshavin so am not suprise we have so many injury.

  12. Anyone who wants to beat this Arsenal can do so by randonly shooting @ target. 1 out of 3 shots is sure to find the back of the net.

    Arsenal will never win anything till they learn to shoot. Yesterday a xillion times they kept passing the ball, when they cud have at least shot on target or even off target.

    All teams, even pompey, on current standings will fancy a chance of scoring with this arsenal team, WITH ALMUNIA on goal.

    We need 20 clear cut chances to score a goal, with BENTDNER, we need 85 minutes or more to score this goal.


    I am so gutted!

    Developing, Not Developed, Team Spirit, Maturity, Not Matured………….anymore of this shit we need to take?

    from a die hard gunner fan in UAE

  13. I am realy surprised by the pERFORMANCE OF Robin van persi he is realy awonderfull player we will see what will happen next,boss should bring exprienced players,there is no free lunch.

  14. I am not happy with abu diaby he is probably the main reason for our defeat by spurs.

  15. Some of you so called Arsenal fans would bring a tear to a glass eye.

    Our team, despite everything, have been magnificant this season.

    But ‘everything’ is what football is about.

    It’s competitive and other teams have strengths too.

    Maybe it sounds a bit Del Boy … But this time next year …

  16. i think one of the greatest undoing to arsenal is the incredible list of injuries.the worst predicament was losing Song & Fabregas and now vermalaen.I dont know why wenger allowed Senderos to go on loan and retain silvestre, i believe the former would have played better than the latter.

  17. Great post!

    Looking at the comments, it appears that once again, the doom mongerers come out to complain about everything Arsenal!

    We were shite last night, no doubt about it. but the fact is we were poor and still could have won. they played their best game of the season, and still could have lost!

    Good to see RVP back and it will be nice to see him score a few goals before the end of season.

  18. next season, i hope we could can 2 players who can play both DM and CB. 1 more striker. Sell Dennilson or advise him to retire.

  19. Gunneraddict I think you will find that Chelsea have scored 9 goals more than Arsenal

  20. Fcuking hell, there’s always the next season for you gunners.

  21. it is not about possessing the ball it about winning.THIS IS WHAT THE fans need. If u win with sexy football that is good but it needs more energy to play with more possession. There are more injuries b/c of strength, we should add at least 2 defenders,two strikers and one central/defensive midfielder otherwise it is difficult to continue like this. Having innocent fan we need trophies please do it wenger and the bord.

  22. Arsenals number 1 problem is arsene wenger. Arsene is too sturbborn nd thnks he alone can stand against d world whch is ridiculous. Btwn wen rvp got injurd nd last nyt, arsnl hav no stryker. A stryker is a prsn dat torment a defence nd a goal keeper nd we dnt hv dat snce rvp got injurd. Nd its all arsene’s fault. I blv silvester wl stil be in arsnl nxt seasn.

  23. Well, that is the mix of comments I was expecting. Some agreeing with me that no team can overcome the sort of injuries we’ve had, and even putting that aside, the improvement this season has been marked.

    And the others, for whom nothing but trophies counts, as if the 19 teams that don’t win the Premiership are failures.

    Countering a few points:

    a) ‘Developing players’

    Yes, we are developing players. Every club in the world not backed by a billionaire must. Most of Barcelona’s team are developed. So why so people keep moaning about it?

    b) ‘Belittling the cups’

    I have sympathy here, because I love the cups. But playing the kids in the League Cup is not belittling it – I personally love watching our next generation there. The FA Cup is different, but with the injury list so severe I don’t think Wenger has a choice. He won’t do it every year.

    c) ‘Wenger has lost the plot’

    No, he hasn’t. We were predicted to finish outside the top four, remember? And that was with a fit squad.

    d) ‘Stop talking about next year’

    There is always next year, for all fans. Spurs live for next year. Of course, we could have won something this season, but for a variety of reasons it hasn’t happened. But with the clear improvements made this term, there is no reason not to be excited about next season. That’s what being a fan is, no?

  24. For me, the main thing we have to sort out this summer is the gap between our first team and the reserves in certain positions, particularly replacements for central defenders (Djourou being back will help, but another is needed), Van Persie (Chamakh is probably penned for this) and Song.

  25. To all Arsenal supporter in London :
    You all must do protest together in front of AW and Arsenal board, to make them realize they must spend the money for several good player next season, to make them realize that supporter need titles.
    All good supporter around the world do that , for the sake of their love to the club.

  26. Arsenal will never win anything if there is no change. Im getting tired of watching how Arsenal play.
    Arsenal:Pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass gone. Other teams: pass-pass-pass-shoot/goal.
    That’s the difference. Look at the possesion ratio to goal in penalty area compared to other teams. Other teams are always threatening in our penalty area and chances are they will score esp with our cartoon character guarding goal. Arsenal: young potential player, 1st yr(on the bench, resv), 2nd yr(debut/starting line-up), 3rd-4th yr-sold. New cycle repeats itself. Remark: We are a young team, we are maturing. Every year new young team with no trophy. I watch fewer & fewer Arsenal games and prefer to read the newspaper the next day cos can’t stand the way they pass & pass and ends up nowhere. Just dont understand why cant just SHOOT!, may get a rebound & there is a chance of a goal and to take a shorter route to goal like other top teams. I will be teminating my cable TV soon. The reason I hv it in the first place was to watch my fav football team. But they hv disappont me year aft year.

  27. Good review!
    I really dont think we need to spend a lot of money. By not spending a lot of money we have gained three quality players this year: Bendtner, Song and Diaby. Lets see what money can buy: Obi-wan, Hargreaves, Carrick, Lucas, Aquilani, Berbatov, Ballack… Woud anyone trade these for the three first mentioned??
    Of course we have to spend SOME money. Does Vermaelen have a twinbrother.

    Anyway, in my view Almunia, Denilson, Traore and Eduardo should be sold during the summer. A centre back and a DM should be bought or brought up from the youth ranks. Is the younger Pole (Schnesny, i tried)ready to take over?

  28. @ss,
    u clearly support arsenal not because u love it but because ur frndz keep teasing u when arsenal lose. U need to look deep inside ur heart and think what do u want more. Do u want arsenal to win the title or do u want to get back at ur friends?? If the latter is true, subtly change ur fav club to barca as they are the in form club this year. But if the former was true and unless u r 90 yrs old, u will just have to be patient and act like a real fan than moan about how proud u r about terminating ur cable. U think arsenal doesn’t deserve ur respect, But actually u dont deserve to to support a gr8 club like arsenal and should probably join ur manutd fans back home.

  29. I’ve not read this article but I am responding to the headline. Had Wenger grown a pair of he would have gone out and bought a STRIKER in January to replace RVP. We have been playing since October without a proven striker and that includes the games that Mr Bent Foot Bendtner has played in. It’s not the first time wenger has lost his bottle when it comes to buying in January to strengthen the squad and instead has filled in the positions with inferior or youngsters with “potential”

  30. Not supporting any other club. Just frustrated in the way they throw away chances aft chances. Will stay away for the time being till there is some change in policy or mgr.

  31. Last night was utterly dreadful,i was embaressed watching that match.
    Firstly Almunia was shocking, he always punches the damn ball instead of catching it and it cost us last night.after he punched it he fell on the ground and took his time getting back to his line.Eboue,denilson and diaby were shocking. diaby couldnt pass a simple ball,he hasnt been the same since barca.even if they did win last night and spmehow won the premiership,all it would have done is give wenger the moral high ground about his “young team”.Its like putting a sticky plaster on a broken leg. hopefully now he will see some sence and buy in the summer. 1 good goalie,2 midfielders, and david villa,he may cost 30mill but he could add 20 goals and that would mean a lot more points next season.

  32. Well said mate. I so much enjoyed your post. I felt like we won the match yesterday. Why? The return of RVP crowned it all. I was so excited about the return. It truly showed what we missed all season.

    On the flip side, I think we will need to bring in two solid defenders (one central + one right back), one defensive mid-fielder (to back-up song), and two great strikers (Chamakh + ……). The lest I forget, Lloris will be a great goal-keeper for Arsenal, and I think he will come handy for us.

    Above all, it’s been a great season for!

    Up gunners!

  33. please all the arsenal lovers especially those from london stand up and show AW that it is too much i last got happy in 2002-2003 since then up i am going to get my face out of the screen because i am disappointed enough back in my country. cahnge is absolutely necessary next year.

  34. Its not been too bad a year with all the injuries but it does highlight the need for strengthening – I would concur – goalkeeper, centre half, defensive midfielder (maybe I do like what Song has done this year) and we are getting Chamakh.
    But most of all we need a new assistant coach preferably someone who knows how to defend (Steve – hes got no hair but we don’t care – Bould is at the club. So that we dont give up soft goals liek the second on wed or generally from set pieces like the first.
    The football we watch can occaisionally be sublime but we make things too hard for ourselves with soft goals from set plays.
    Players do need to be encouraged to make more attacking moves and allowed to lose the ball in going forward. You dont want to run forward willy nilly and give away posession immediately but 20 passes sideways and backwards and then lose possession is even worse at least try and make an incisive move/pass/shot
    As we see a season fizzle out just think how much money you could have made taking all the bets that the Gooners would finish outside of the top 4 and laugh at tottnum (hopefully) missing again
    Finally in 22 seasons starting with the title in 1989 (nothing like fixing the data set) the tinys have finished above us 3 times, on three further occaisions within 3 places and 10 points (I am giving them this seaon in that set) and in the other 16 seasons they were at LEAST 20 pts adrift!

  35. Not supporting any other club. Just frustrated in the way they throw away chances aft chances. Will stay away for the time being till there is some change in policy or mgr.

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