Monday, May 14, 2012

Imperfect Performance, but the Result is Just 'Perfect'

Arsenal just got enough result to secure the third place with the 3-2 win against West Brom on The Hawthorns. Arsenal finished the Campaign with 70 points, a point ahead North London rival, Tottenham Hotspurs, who beat Fulham 2-0 on the same day. Robin van Persie also sealed the top-scorer spot, despite not scoring any in this match.

Arsenal made three changes prior to the match agaisnt Norwich City. Jenkinson replaced broken-leg Bacary Sagna, while Andre Santos replaced Kieran Gibbs on the left back. Francis Coquelin replaced Aaron Ramsey to allow Alex Song plays in the more advanced role.

Arsenal took lead when West Brom keeper Marten Fulop hesitantly took the backpass, and Yossi Benayoun stole the ball and put the ball into the empty net. Despite getting the lead first, poor display by Arsenal defenders let West Brom equalized via Shane Long - despite being in offside position before receiving the ball - , and they even turn the game after Glen Dorrans smashed the ball to the bottom corner of Szczesny's goal. That goal woke Arsenal's side, and they began to dominate the game, passing the ball around, despite lacking of final ball. Gervinho made some good runs into the penalty area, but his delivery was ineffective. Benayoun had one great chance in front of the goal, but West Brom defender could made a terrific block just outside the six yard box. West Brom, in other hand, always looked dangerous on counter attack, and Arsenal looked very vulnerable, especially via right back slot who occupied by Carl Jenkinson, as well as from set pieces. On 30th minutes, Arsenal finally equalized after Andre Santos smashed the ball to Marten Fulop's goal. The first half ended 2-2

On the second half, Arsene Wenger introduced Theo Walcott to take place of Tomas Rosicky, thus Yossi Benayoun moved to the central of the park to take the playmaker role. Arsenal continued to control the game, but it was not open play how Arsenal scored goal. Robin van Persie curled corner, and Marten Fulop - without any pressure from Arsenal's player - mispunched the ball, giving it to Laurent Koscielny, who flick it to the net. 3-2 for Arsenal's lead. After that, Arsenal looked complacent and hesitant to launch the attack as they only have three pronged attack upfront without any support. West Brom took this chance to dominate the game, and they got some good chances, forcing Wojciech Szczesny to made some smart save. This time, it was Arsenal who got some decent position to lauch counter-attack. However, their final ball was inaccurate. Benayoun's through pass was just too quick for Gervinho, while Robin van Persie smashed the ball over. Arsenal almost conceded the third, after the pass find Billy Jones and he was ready to net the ball to the gaol, but Kieran Gibbs, who replaced Gervinho, made an excellent tackle to block it. After 5 minutes of injury time, West Brom failed to find a goal, and the match ended with 2-3 scoreline, visitor Arsenal stole the three points.

It was not the most convincing performance by the Gunners. Their defense was shaky, especially early in the first half, there were no protection from the midfield, and West Brom easily penetrated to Arsenal's territory, mostly from counter-attacks and set pieces. On the second half, however, they played a deeper line, and were generally solid, despite still uncomfortable from attack from the both flanks. Francis Coquelin is yet to be ready to be the anchor man, but he is more like a mobile midfielder, who could be a box-to-box midfielder. The attacks also were quite ineffective, Gervinho, with his pace and technique, got some great position to score goal, however, his composure and finishing weren't there.  If it's not because of the blunder from Marten Fulop, Arsenal might be not able to win this game. Had to be said, two of Arsenal's goal were gift from the West Brom keeper.

In the other hand, Arsenal showed great character, turning the 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory, and didn't make the same mistake by giving away the lead in the last minutes, like they did in the previous match. Their defense on the second half were solid, especially in the middle. Only from the flank, West Brom created a lot of chances. Carl Jenkinson is yet to be ready - defensively - to play in the highest level, but he has the potential.

It was the 'perfect' result for Arsenal get the ticket to the next season Champions League, 16 years in a row, and celebrate Saint Totteringham's Day - the day where Arsenal couldn't be caught by Tottenham - for 17 years in row.

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