Saturday, 22 January 2011

A much better week. Leeds match report and thoughts.

Leeds United 1 Arsenal 3

After a couple of poor results against Leeds and Ipswich, the performances against West Ham and Leeds second time around were much more like it. Even Arshavin - who has been pilloried recently, though not by me - worked hard, and I can't help but feel the next goal is just round the corner. Possibly today against Wigan.

What was notable about the Leeds game was how we got the early goal. It was something which was hurting us earlier in the season at home, and with the atmosphere at Elland Road, scoring the first goal was crucial. A fine goal it was too, with a lovely pass from Arshavin, a good dummy from Chamakh and beautifully taken finish from Samir Nasri. His performances are finally getting the plaudits they deserve. Praise, too, for Marouane Chamakh, who I thought played much better after struggling recently.

The first half was really a procession, and Bacary Sagna's goal was reward for the team's excellent performance, as well as his superb season. I've been a little less convinced by Kieran Gibbs' defensive nous in the last couple of games but Sagna has been nothing short of exceptional all season. That Leeds got one back to make a game of it was unfortunate, but hyperbole aside, it was a very good shot which was almost unstoppable. That Szczesny tweeted about being disappointed to let it in, underlines how good a goalkeeper he is.

In short (and I'm pressed for time because I need to get off to The Grove), this underlined the importance of a single goal. Both in that we scored early which made it easy for us, and Cesc's penalty in the 90th minute of the first game. From being out of the cup, we've now got a plum draw against Huddersfield, and we've got a real foothold in the competition.

Here's to four trips to Wembley before the season's out.

Keep the faith

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