Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The win at West Brom must mean more than three points

How quickly do things change in football?

On Sunday afternoon Jonathan Pearce proudly proclaimed (I know it was only shown on Sunday night but that's irrelevant since he was commentating live at the match) that Aston Villa had won and were going 8 points clear of Arsenal.

After that, our old friend SCWWABC guided his Stoke side to two late goals and as the saying famously goes, the rest is history.

But to put it more explicitly: the results of three matches means that instead of being 8 points behind Villa, we're three. That 5 point swing is massive: each point which Villa have more than us is worth about 15 million pounds: the cost financially of not qualifying for the Champions League becomes greater every year.

Indeed, whilst Uefa complain about the fact the Uefa Cup has become a joke, one reason for this is that there is no money to be made by being in it. Its hardly a surprise then that nobody cares about it.

Anyway, our victory at the Hawthorns was not especially memorable. Bentdner scored a good early goal but this was cancelled out by us defending a free-kick poorly. To be frank, whilst the blame has been put on Eboue, in actuality all that happened is that it deflected of Song's foot. If this hadn't happened, Almunia would have saved it. These things happen - I'd rather at The Hawthorns than at the Theatre of Shit.

Despite conceding a soft equaliser we then scored two soft goals although one of these was notable. The third goal was simply a long ball over the top of a static defence which Barry finished nicely: of course he should take chances like that but when a striker scores a goal they deserve credit. Football isn't played on paper - it's played on the pitch. That's probably been our problem this season: as we're of greater stature our players thing the game is won before kick-off.

However, I thought the second goal was interesting. Read any national newspaper and they will write about a soft goal from poor marking. But to a Gooner, that should be irrelevant.

What is relevant is that we scored from a set piece. You cannot exploit poor marking until you get the ball into the box: Arshavin's perfect, dipping delivery right on Kolo's head showed how it should be done. With a real expert at delivering dead balls we will score far more goals. If nothing else, this team has good headers of the ball: Gallas, Djourou, Kolo, Ade, Bentdner. Demonstrably, this is a strength which we should take more advantage of.

But whilst there were some interesting pointers from the game, we need this victory to lead to more victories. Not winning at The Hawthorns would have been a shambles. Winning there means very little. It has to help spur us on to greater things. It should do, particularly with Villa looking far more catchable.

Finally, two quick points: we cannot sell Gallas - without him last night we lost so much defensive stability.

Secondly: I'm starting to worry about Clichy: I thought he defended very slapdashly last night and he gave the ball away several times. Maybe it was over-confidence as the game was won but I don't think its something which we should let happen. After all, we must have learnt some lessons from the 4-4 disaster. I hope it was just one poor performance though.

That's pretty much all.

Keep the faith,


Carl P said...

I love the retun of CWWABC!
But you have to stop using the word 'demonstrably'!!!
Also, of course the goal was eboue's fault; yes the ball may hav deflected off song, but song only put his foot out because eboue had left a gap in the wall!

Anonymous said...

Finally your beginning to understand that Clichy aint so great. Evra = perfect :)

Adam said...

Anon: Remember the first time you played us at the grove. evra made two defensive howlers which flipped the game from a United win to an Arsenal win.

Whilst Clichy has made high-profile errors, they're not usually in big games. Though whether all of this proves the point one way or the other is questionable.

Carl P: at a stretch I could blame the goal on Clichy for giving away a soft free-kick in a silly position.

Maybe Eboue shouldnt have jumped out the wall, but Almunia could have got across anyway: it was a tame shot. Sticking his foot out wrongfooted Almunia: that's why it's Song's mistake.