Lady Luck Smiles at Arsenal Yet Again
Apologies for the lack of blogging activity over the past two days.
I lost an uncle on Thursday and I’ve been spending some time with his family. This meant that I was kilometers away from my laptop and with my mobile telecom’s crappy network fucking up as usual, blogging with my BlackBerry was also out of the equation.
May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.
This is one Premier League season football fans won’t forget in a while. From an Arsenal perspective, this season has offered the good, the bad and most certainly, the ugly. It’s just unfortunate to know that the “bad” has become a norm in recent times.
Yesterday, the stage was set for one of the two “cup finals” the Gunners has in their bid to become the third best team in the land. In a day of landmarks, the stalwart and loyal Arsenal servant, Patrick James Rice, was facing the Emirates crowd for the last time in his career that has been him serve this great club for almost all eternity.
It was also Arsene Wenger’s 900th game in charge of the club. In his 899 games played before yesterday’s enthralling encounter, Wenger had won 513 games, drawn 214 times and had suffered defeat on 172 occasions, giving him a winning percentage of 57 percent in his 16-year stint with the club.
Arsenal began the contest like a house on fire with a goal at 66 seconds from another Gunner that potentially played his last home game, Yossi Benayoun. The Isreali Rabbi received a pass from Tomas Rosicky before shimming past a defender to curl home a superb effort. The game also coincided with his 32nd birthday so it was one to remember for football’s own version of Harry Potter.
His scar is probably hidden behind his long locks of hair, his feet are his magic wands and the tricks he performs with the ball on his feet are no different to the expecto patronums we see from time to time.
The goal didn’t faze the visitors and they pegged Arsenal back through Wes Hoolahan. Norwich executed some intricate passing play and a somewhat easy shot was flapped into Arsenal’s goal by the usually dependable Wojciech Szczesny. That was a moment Manuel Almunia would have been proud of.
A bad day got a whole lot worse when Norwich went two up courtesy of more suspect defending from the home side. A swift counter attack saw the visitors in a three on two situation at Arsenal’s back line and Grant Holt’s effort lofted over Szczesny to silence the Emirates.
Shortly afterwards, there were grim faces at the Emirates when Bacary Sagna was stretched off for a fractured leg. It was the same leg that received the blow last October in White Shite Lane and the Frenchman faces six months in the sidelines, ruling him out from this Summer’s Euros as well as the start of next season.
When Sagna got injured in the tail end of last year, the Gunners struggled badly because there was nobody competent enough to supply those inch-perfect crosses as well as the wit, guile and consistency the full back offered. Francis Coquelin has made a good account of himself in that position but well have to make do with him for the time being.
At half time, Twitter was an unbearable place to be in. Gooners aimed their usual curses on the club’s newly-found scapegoat Aaron Ramsey and I was very ashamed when a “fan” tweeted at the Welshman, telling him to do what Gary Speed did.
The Gunners probed in the second half and the introduction of Marouane Chamakh and the Ox breathed life into the team’s forward line. The Gunners got that much deserved equalizer when Alex Song dipped in another trademark projectile for the Flying Dutchman who wasted no time in dispatching his effort goalwards.
With 10 minutes to go, the captain was on hand to give his team the lead and every frown was turned upside down. Arsenal had the option of holding the fort for the dying moments of the game, but Song’s sloppiness coupled with more defensive frailties saw Morison latch unto a through ball to shoot past the hapless Szczesny in goal.
That finish was reminiscent of James McClean (Sunderland) and Danny Graham’s (Swansea) efforts. For some strange reason, Szczesny’s positioning becomes so poor at his near post and he tends to give strikers the entire goal to aim at.
Despite all these shortcomings, he still has 13 clean sheets to his name.
The aftermath of the Norwich game was no different from obituary preparations as the Gooners prepared themselves for Europa League football next season. After reading Lady Arse’s post on the game, the quotes used to end the article sank deep into my head:
“Finishing below Sp*rs for the first time in Arsene Wenger’s reign is the least of our problems this morning.”
Lady Luck looked at Arsenal fans worldwide and showed herself strong in the fixtures played today. While the impressive Newcastle hosted title hopefuls, Manchester City, Tottenham visited Villa Park to take on that inconsistent lot, Aston Villa.
Papiss Demba Cisse grabbed the headlines with his incredulous finish against Chelsea and he put his name in the Premier League history books as the best player with a goals to minutes ratio in Premier League history, averaging a goal every 71 .8 minutes. Sergio Aguero (22 goals in 2428 minutes came in at second place while King Thierry Henry (176 goals in over 21,000 minutes) still sits pretty at third despite being out of the English game since February.
Yaya Toure started the game in a deeper box to box role but a genius tactical switch by Roberto Mancini in removing Carlos Tevez for Nigel de Jong gave the Ivorian the onus to go forward and it was worth its weight in gold. Elsewhere, Arsenal’s former mercenary Uncle William Gallas deflected Clark’s effort into his goal but Emmanuel Adeba-whore sent Shay Given the wrong way with his spot kick.
Aston Villa held on to secure a vital draw for themselves and Arsenal while Newcastle’s loss ensured that the Gunners still remain in pole position for a third place finish, provided that they win at the Hawthorns.
Lady Luck, thanks for smiling at us on a warm Sunday afternoon.
Hopefully, we won’t need you next week Sunday.
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