Have you ever watched two people fencing? The only time I get to see this is in the Olympics; as for some reason, Britain always seems to win a gold medal and as a result it is always shown on the news. Two people dressed in white wearing a bizarre mask that looks like the eye of a fly, stand in front of each other trading lightning fast cuts and thrusts of their rapiers both seemingly taking it in turns to push forward, slowly at first, then speeding up forcing the opponent back. Well, I hope you have seen one of these competitions or this analogy is in trouble because that was exactly what the last night’s game felt like to me. Two evenly matched teams on the night, alternating waves of attack.
Arsenal took to the field looking confident in the knowledge that they had not lost at Villa Park in over eleven years and determined to extend that statistic to twelve. The good guys kicked off and commenced the first wave which unfortunately came to nothing. It was then Villa’s turn, their wave of attack led to the ball falling to Agbonlahor who fizzed a low shot, goal bound, which produced a fine, reaction save from Almunia. These alternating waves continued in fact for the whole game, some getting closer to breaking the deadlock than others, most notably in the first half Fabrégas’ mazy run from the half way line, from which he unleashed a low drive across the area which looked like it was heading for the corner of the goal only to strike the post at the last second, bouncing to Ramsey and Rosicky who messed up the rebound by getting in each others way.
The other most notable event of the first half was the worrying site of Vermaelen hobbling off which gave Campbell an opportunity to make his first league appearance for Arsenal in I can’t remember how long. His entrance was met with cautious optimism but he quickly put us all at ease with a very commanding header followed by some reassuring passing. We supporters may have needed persuading but the players already knew what Campbell could add and seemed to be lifted by his infectious determination.
The second half kicked off and the alternating waves of attack continued our best opportunity was created by Arshavin from yet another slalom run from the halfway line that was only thwarted by Friedal diving at the Russian’s feet, the ball bouncing kindly to Rosicky who with a rasping shot unfortunately hit the bar.
A draw, I suppose was a fair result but it does now, I believe, put us in a position of having to beat Man U and Chelsea to stand a chance of winning the league……a tall order but not impossible.
Almunia: Coco seemed a bit better today but that might have more to do with Fabiabski’s performance at Stoke still ringing in my head. 6
Sagna: needs a break; I hope Eboue replaces him on Sunday. 6
Gallas: Agbonlahor is one of the few players that can bring a nervous look Gallas’ face; the Frenchman contained him but only just. 6
Vermaelen: let’s just hope he was taken off as a precaution or so I hoped when I wrote this last night but I have just heard from Wenger that he is a bit worried about the expected outcome of the intended x-rays.
Clichy: a very skittish performance, Young gave him a torrid time; MOTD highlighted one incident in the first half when Young made a monkey of him but believe me there were many more like that. 4
Fabregas: very unlucky not to score when he drove forward beating what seemed like half a dozen players before firing a low drive that struck the foot of the post. Gave his all as usual, what would we do without him. 8
Denilson: every time I watch him on telly he looks frightening. I am going to wait until I watch him live on Sunday against the mancs before I judge him but right now I am on course to join those fans that really cannot stand him. 4
Ramsey: the more and more he plays the closer and closer he gets to being more worthy than Denilson of a starting position although I expect that he will make way for Song on Sunday. 5
Rosicky: he is getting better and better and his confidence would have soared had he not been robbed by the bar.
Eduardo: was not able to get into the game; although, he didn’t receive any service what so ever, he has damaged his ham string and will certainly be out for three weeks. 5
Arshavin: very quiet in the first half but always capable of exploding into action at any moment and winning us the game. 6
Super Sol: seemed to add power and determination which lifted the whole team, a very commanding performance and boy did we enjoy singing all those great Sol songs in the pub, come to think about it, has there ever been another Arsenal player who has had so many positive songs made up about him…..da, da, da, da, Sol’s a gooner. 7
Bendtner: probably would have come on for Eduardo five minutes later any way, adds height and therefore becomes a target man but can still be so frustrating in a Diaby kind of not releasing the ball quick enough way. 5