Sunday, January 29, 2012

Not the most convincing victory, but it was a great spirit. 3-2

Arsenal recorded a superb comeback from 0-2 down to 3-2 victory in the fifth round of FA Cup in the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal scored three times in 15 minutes to book the place in the last 16 on the FA Cup, with an away clash against either Middlesbrough or Sunderland.

Arsenal, which played almost the strongest team, didn't play too badly on the first half, but somehow Aston Villa took two goals from Richard Dunne's header from the corner and Darrent Bent via counter attack. However, second half was Arsenal's dominance. First fifteen minutes of second half was all Arsenal need to win this game.

Arsenal were very dangerous on the second half. They almost scored when Per Mertesacker's nice header from van Persie's corner cleared off the line by Ireland, but then Arsenal got penalty when Richard Dunne obstructed Aaron Ramsey on the penalty area, and van Persie gave hope for Arsenal 1-2. Just moments after that, Theo Walcott scored the equalizer after got deflected the clearance off the line by Aston Villa's player. Robin van Persie completed Arsenal's comeback with a penalty, after Laurent Koscielny brought down by Darrent Bent. Ironic enough for Aston Villa, their two goalscorer gave two penalties to Arsenal.

Arsenal showed an amazing spirit, with two nil down on the half time, it is never easy to back on the game. Credit for Arsene Wenger, who made a good team talk on the half time, and even without substitution they can turn the game on. Walcott, despite being quite wasteful upfront, scored a goal, Chamberlain showed why Arsenal fans were angry when Wenger withdrew him on the last match against Man United, he was very lively on the left flank, despite still a little bit lacking of final product. Rosicky played the ball neatly, and Ramsey was brilliant on the second half.

However, Arsenal were still really vulnerable on the set piece, and also aerial ball. Arsenal were very weak defending floating crosses, as they conceded that kind of goal twice in two match. Arsenal also need to re-sharpen the final touch, all of the goals scored today, none of them were from open play, two penalties, and one deflection.

Above of that all, Arsenal were deserved to win this game, they got more chances, and on the second half they were brilliant. The hope for a trophy this season is still on, on FA Cup.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Henry is Back! and He still got Class!

Arsenal overcome resilient Leeds United in 3rd round of FA Cup on the Emirates Stadium by one goal to nil. It's only the King, Thierry Henry, who returned to Emirates Stadium after 4.5 years, could score the goal on this match.

Leeds United defended very well, and Arsenal were struggling to score a goal in this match, despite having couples of chances. First half was a non-inspiring performance by the gunners, as they failed to really threaten Leeds' goal. The only great chances Arsenal had was from Andrey Arshavin's shot over the bar in the early ten minutes and Aaron Ramsey's deflected shot. On the other hand, Leeds only had one shot off target.

On the second half, Arsenal played better and had several chances from Ramsey, Chamberlain, and also Arteta. After almost 70 minutes of deadlock, Arsene Wenger introduced Thierry Henry as well as Theo Walcott. It was a good substitution by the Gunners. Thierry Henry only needed ten minutes to score his goal in his second debut for the Gunners! He still got excellent composure in front of goal, and his finishing was clinical. After that goal, Leeds tried to push, but in the end it is Arsenal who through to the next round.

The King celebrates after scoring the goal!

It was a sensational goal by the current all time leading goalscorer, placing the ball to the far post. It was a placed shot we used to see from the old Thierry Henry. He showed Marouane Chamakh, Andrey Arshavin, Theo Walcott, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain what finishing is like. He might be already 34, but his touch is still there. He might be already lost his explosive pace, but he is still predator in the box. He might not as agile as he used to be but he still got eye on to the goal. There were some doubts about the return of Thierry Henry, but tonight, he showed he still got something to offer for the Gunners, and something Arsenal - aside from Robin van Persie - has been lacking : the final touch

Monday, January 2, 2012

This side is not ready to win EPL

The first match in 2012 ended with a defeat. After leading 1-0 on first half, they gave away the lead and surrender 2-1 to Fulham. There was some optimism Arsenal would able to back to the title race, with 9 points behind Man City and still 17 games to go. However with this performance, I think it would be impossible for Arsenal to win the Premier League. The performance against Fulham in the second half is one of the worst Arsenal display this season, aside from the bad defeat at Old Trafford in the beginning of the season.

The first half was solid, if wasn't spectacular. However, they are lacking of product on the final third. They might have been 3-0 up on the first half. But they only managed to score once, by Laurent Koscielny. It also wasn't really a build-up. Ramsey's deflected cross taken by Koscielny's header, and it was 1-0 for Arsenal's lead. Song, Gervinho, Ramsey, and van Persie had chances to score, but failed to put the ball into the net.

I've been noticing there's always same mistakes in every match : Inefficiency and Complacency.

First one : Inefficiency. Arsenal had many chances in the first half, but only one leading to goal. Theo Walcott, who asked for a wage raise, was very wasteful upfront. He didn't make any successful cross today, and his decision making back to Walcott 2010, unlike Walcott in October-November we had expected. Gervinho also hadn't been sharp enough. It wasn't a new issue. Technically gifted, but not composed enough in front of goal. That what Gervinho had been showing this season. Robin van Persie didn't have the best game of his career - and again if he doesn't score, Arsenal can't win, somehow. Aaron Ramsey too often misplaced through ball, and Mikel Arteta wasn't brave enough to make killer balls.

Second : Complaceny. Almost in every non-winning game for Arsenal starts from this problem. After leading 1-0, the mentality of the player always think they will easily score the second goal. Against Sunderland, Stoke, Wolverhampton, and Fulham, they conceded after leading one nil. Fortunately against Sunderland and Stoke, Robin van Persie came and saved the day again. Against Wolverhampton, they were only able to secure a 1-1 draw. But this time, Arsenal lost 1-2 against Fulham. They deserved the victory, as they played much better than the Gunners in second half.

The encouraging thing from this match is the performance of Francis Coquelin. The Frenchman, who originally plays in Alex Song's position, was strong on the left back, and made couples of good run as well as sturdy defending. His mobility has been his asset too. Despite the last goal come from his side, he couldn't be blamed. It was Squillaci's mistake which led to the goal. This player would have bright future if he can continue playing like this.

Well, this season, Wenger should focused on how aiming for the fourth place, or meaning Champions League next season. With the squad has been hit by injury crisis, it would be wise to dip into the transfer windows, which just opened two days ago. If Wenger bought one or two world class player, Arsenal might back to aim title, but not for now, they were miles apart from the title.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Not a bad way to end 2011 with a victory

Arsenal did just enough to earn 3 points on the last game of the 2011. Robin van Persie once again scored the winning goal for the Gunners. This victory brings Arsenal to fourth place, pushing Liverpool, who won against Newcastle 3-1 a day before, to the fifth place.

As usual, Arsenal wasn't too dominant in the first 15 minutes, but started to dominate the game after that. Robin van Persie comes twice close to break the deadlock, when his header just wide from the target and his shot just few metres in front of the goal somehow went over the bar. Theo Walcott also had a great chance, but he opted to cross it and failed to score. QPR, in other hand, only had two chances, which Szczesny brilliantly blocked it, and the other one, Per Mertesacker made a perfect block to stop the shot. The first half ended, and it was still scoreless.

the skipper done it again! (photos from

On the second half, Arsenal continued its dominance, and got numbers of corners, but failed to score. Arsenal should have got two penalties, when Laurent Koscielny's shot blocked by hand, but the ref somehow didn't give any penalty; and when Mikel Arteta's cross touched QPR's defender's hand, but the ref continued the game. Theo Walcott unbelievably missed a one on one chance on the beginning of the first half. Aaron Ramsey saw his fierce shot cleared of the line by Joey Barton. Finally, Robin van Persie broke the deadlock after QPR's misplaced pass is received by Arshavin, and he sent through ball to the captain. Robin van Persie coolly put it back into the net. 1-0 the scoreline. The goal he scored made him just one goal behind Alan Shearer's record goals in one year. With that goal, RvP had scored 35 in 2011, and Shearer scored 36 in 1995.

After Arsenal took the lead, QPR tried to hit back, by creating few chances but failed to score. Matthew Connolly was unmarked on the penalty area but he smashed the ball over, Adel Taarabt forced Wojciech Szczesny dived to save the ball, but failed to score any. On the other hand, Arsenal could have easily doubled their lead when Robin van Persie's superb pass met Gervinho who stands just two meters in front of goal, but he missed it. Aaron Ramsey had a great opportunity, but he missed the target. In the end, the scoreline remained the same, 1-0.

It wasn't the most clinical finishing Arsenal showed yesterday, and Robin van Persie failed to broke Alan Shearer's record. Credit must be given to QPR who did good defending, and made some crucial blocks. Arsenal need to be more clinical in front of goal, in order to secure fourth place this season, as well as any silverware possible. Walcott and Gervinho can't afford to missed like that again. But at least, the Gooner should be grateful to earn full points where Man United and Chelsea drops three points home, Spurs drops two on Swansea's home. It was a good New Year present from the Gunners for all Arsenal fan.