ESPNSoccernet: Bent Goal Sinks Gunners
Telegraph: Arsenal failed to score for the first time this season and the end of their 13-match unbeaten run means they will need to make up some of the eight-point deficit on Chelsea when the two meet next Sunday.
I have no idea why you’d want to, but you can see the whole match or even just highlights on Arsenal dot com.
Man of the Match
Alex Song was our brightest star by pretty much every account. It’s becoming a bit of a mantra to say “he looks much improved over last season” but the reason for the mantra is that he does look much improved. Obviously someone spent the Summer working on his defensive positioning and awareness, because every time Gallas or Vermaelen go forward, I’m no longer worried about who’s at the back because I know that Song is there. Passing forward, supposedly his Achilles heel, he is picking out lines and passes that I didn’t see him do last year. And it’s an axiom that if you’re not good with the ball, you get found out and when Song has the ball, again, I’m always confident.
No knock on Cana, he has skill as shown by the Zidane spin he put on the midfield, but I can see why Wenger didn’t buy this Summer. How much is Song worth to Arsenal this year?
Sunderland played the exact game they wanted. All credit to them for an organized attack, organized defense, and keeping a clean sheet against the premier league’s leading goal scorers. Also, they played hard but I can’t say they played dirty. So, fair enough to them, they deserved the win.
At the ten match mark I pointed out the fact that Arsenal’s away form is poor and that if they want to challenge for the title, they will need to tighten that form up. At that point, we’d played 5 and accumulated a 2-1-2 record. Since then we’ve played two more away matches and gotten one win and one loss and now sit at 3-1-3 in away matches.
More importantly, we ship goals in away matches and currently have one of the worst records of the top four for goals allowed in away matches, on 11. In fact, if you take out the 6-1 win over Everton, Arsenal’s goal differential in away matches is zero.
That said, it’s not really brown trousers time yet. The top clubs all have a significantly poor away record and an incredible home record; Chelsea is 7-0-0 at home and 4-0-2 away, ManUre is 6-1-0 at home and 3-0-3 away, and Arsenal is 5-0-0 at home and 3-1-3 away. All the top clubs’ losses are on away matches and while people point to the point differential between Arsenal and Chelsea and say that next Sunday’s match is “must win” I’d rather look at the overall losses and ties because you can’t get losses back. Overall, we’re not doing too poorly in the losses category. And while any loss hurts, losing to a well rested, well organized, and hungry Sunderland team right after the Nationalism break isn’t the end of the world.
But it is bad.
I swear that there are some “Arsenal fans” who are only happy when we lose. They’ve been wringing their hands ever since the Invincibles season — because while we went an entire Premier League season unbeaten, we could have done better, we should have won the treble. And now, after the International break, Arsenal get a tough away draw and manage to throw away three points in a rather unspectacular fashion. I’m sitting here, watching the Stoke v. Pompey match and already starting to worry about that fixture in February.
Truth be told, I was talking to my friend Benny and I worried about the Sunderland match, going as far as saying that I wouldn’t be surprised if Sunderland gets the win. But with so many hand-wringers out there and highly biased so-called-fan sites what’s the point of being so negative? What’s it going to accomplish? It might confirm your sour grapes world view but you’re not “being realistic” you’re being a tiresome prat.
Everyone knows that Arsenal are going to drop some points from now until the end of the season. Chelsea will drop points between now and the end of the season, mark my words.
I’m no wide-eyed optimist (though you can’t spell optimist without “tim”) I see it when we have problems, but I choose to support the team, especially during matches. I might have a bit of a criticism of a player every once in a while — yesterday I thought several players should have don more to get the points — but overall I think this is a very positive team with a huge future and will still challenge on several fronts.
It would be nice, for once, if the half of us Arsenal fans who groan at every stray pass and point out how “you knew that so and so was shit, and that pass proved it.” It would be nice if that half of the Arsenal support climbed down off the team’s back and started supporting.
If not, then please consider a different team to complain about. The rest of us are tired of carrying you.
See you tomorrow.