Monday, 14 February 2011

Arsenal Beat Wolves 2-0 To Stay In Touch At The Top.

Arsenal went into their game against Wolves on Saturday afternoon knowing that Man City had not done them a favour earlier in the day. They had hoped for the blue half of Manchester to take at least a point from their red rivals, but it wasn't to be thanks to a fantastic goal from Shrek. It meant that Arsenal were seven points behind "Manure" with a game in hand, and they simply had to beat Wolves.

Arsene Wenger picked the strongest team available to him in my opinion, and they were expected to put in a performance to help to wipe away the horrible memories of last week's result away to Newcastle. I suppose it didn't really matter how the result was achieved, as long as the three points were gained. However, Arsenal put in a very good performance from start to finish, and the only surprise was the scoreline. The game may have finished 2-0 to Arsenal, but a five or six goal haul would have been no surprise, such was Arsenal's domination.

From the start Arsenal played with pace and poise, and it seemed only a matter of time before the goals started going in. It was no surprise that Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was their man of the match, and it seems opposition goalkeepers are making a habit of keeping their best performances for visits to the Emirates. Thankfully Arsenal have the Premier League's most in-form striker in their team, and by the end of the game Robin Van Persie had bagged himself another brace of goals. At his current rate of scoring he will be Arsenal's top scorer, and he even has an outside chance of topping the Premier League scoring charts. All of that is dependent on him staying injury free of course, and with RVP that's not exactly a certainty. He did pick up a knock to his knee yesterday, but the boss says that he should be able to play on Wednesday night against Barcelona.

Arsenal have now managed five clean sheets in their last seven league games, and for me the main reason for that has been the presence of Johan Djourou in the team. When Newcastle put four goals past them last week it was no coincidence that Djourou had gone off with an injury. Thankfully he was fit to play yesterday, and his central defensive partnership with Laurent Koscielny is proving to be one of the real successes of the season. When Thomas Vermaelen comes back from injury it's not going to be easy for him to get back into the team, but that's a problem Arsenal will be happy to have.

The goals in the game came in the 16th minute, and the 56th minute. The first one was a reversal of what would normally be expected, as Cesc Fabregas played a left footed ball into the box for RVP to volley home with his right foot. The second goal was a thing of beauty when Arsenal swept forward in a sweeping move, and Theo Walcott passed to RVP to finish sweetly with his left foot this time from the edge of the penalty area. RVP calls his right leg his "chocolate leg", but he still manages to score quite a few goals with it. It's very nice to see a Dutch man scoring loads of goals in the number 10 shirt for Arsenal again.

There were plenty of other opportunities for Arsenal to score, but a combination of saves from Hennessey, goal line clearances, and missed chances meant that the game finished 2-0. The best chance was probably missed by Walcott who somehow managed to screw a shot wide with the goal gaping in front of him in the second half. Wolves were never in the game at any stage, and their manager admitted afterwards that they had been taught a lesson in football.

It means that Arsenal can now move on, and concentrate on their Champions League game at home to Barcelona on Wednesday night. Last year Arsenal drew at home to Barcelona, and then took the lead in the away leg, before eventually losing 4-1. The Arsenal team on Wednesday night will probably only contain three of the players who were so soundly beaten that night, and for that reason I think Arsenal should have a much better chance. Even in the home game that Arsenal drew they had players missing through injury, and while there are a few players missing this season Arsenal are capable of coping without them in my opinion. I'll preview that game on Wednesday morning.

In the Premier League Arsenal's next game is at home to Stoke RFC on Wednesday February 23rd, and it gives them the chance to close the gap on "Manure" to only one point, as they don't play that night. However, due to the fact that Arsenal play in the Carling Cup final on Sunday February 23rd, "Manure" will then play twice before Arsenal play again. Those two games are both away from home, and with their away record so far this season I am very hopeful that both Wigan and Chelsea can do Arsenal a favour. After that Arsenal play at home to Sunderland on the same weekend that "Manure" pay a visit to Liverpool. Again I am hopeful of them dropping points in that game, and I think that Arsenal's title chances will be a lot clearer when those games are over. It's certainly going to be a busy and interesting few weeks for Arsenal, and I'm really looking forward to it.

That's it for today.

Here's the highlights from Saturday's game.

See You Tomorrow.

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