Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A good fightback. West Brom match report.



West Brom 2 Arsenal 2

Apologies for the lack of blogging recently...
Life has become manic and I've become lazy. It clearly hasn't helped our form, although my brother would say I'm not supporting the club well enough.

The point about Denilson...
Is that he isn't playing particularly well at the moment - he isn't showing the form he's capable of. But equally, the criticism is ridiculous. We weren't 1-0 down at half-time on Saturday because of Denilson - we were behind because of a defensive mistake.

And I really feel like he's damned if he does and he's damned if he doesn't. He passes it sideways, and people complain he doesn't try and be incisive. He has a shot which goes high and wide (just like Jack and Robin did on Saturday) and people complain about him being inept.

The point about Almunia...
Is he made a misjudgment. A horrible misjudgment which cost us a goal, but that was it. The vitriol about him playing is completely misguided.

There were people screaming how James Shea should have played. I've seen Shea play for the reserves, and, frankly, he didn't particularly impress me. He may one day be a good keeper, but he's still very young. And it's unbelievably fickle to lay into Almunia - he made brilliant saves against Barcelona and United.

People say the mistakes are to be expected, but he's made one since he came back - nobody went for Fabianski like this after the Newcastle game, when we actually lost the game. In all, it's frankly a little distasteful - the last thing a keeper needs when he makes a mistake is to suffer a litany of abuse from his own fans.

The first half performance...
Was poor. It was a soft goal to concede, and we didn't take the most golden of chances, when Ramsey failed to convert from all of two yards out.

It's one of the reasons I don't agree with the torrent of abuse Arsene has taken in the last few weeks - look at the results which haven't gone our way: an unfortunate mistake in the last minute of the Carling Cup Final, a draw against Sunderland where their keeper was man of the match, a game against Barca which was ruined by the ref, and against United, we were very much in the game and VDS was the difference.

The performance on Saturday was pretty poor - but this wasn't a continuation of our previous form, it was an aberration.

All of this said, the tactics seem a little odd - because the 4-3-3 without one of the central 'three' pushing high (ie Cesc) easily becomes a 4-5-1. And against a relegation-threatened side, while chasing the title, that doesn't offer the team enough penetration.

Chamakh for Denilson...
In reality changed very little. For 20-25 minutes longer, we were still pretty blunt going forward. Which all the more underlines how ridiculous the criticism of Denilson was and is.

Arshavin...
Is a brilliant player, who our play should centre around. So much of what we do well goes through him, and yet his team-mates don't give him the ball nearly enough. It was a great goal to get us back in the game.

The comeback as a whole...
Was nothing special. There was greater urgency but we didn't play particularly well as a team. Andrey rifled a great finish home, but the second goal was scrappy, and we didn't muster any clear-cut chances to win the game.

But in terms of character and importance - and I know this comes across a bit like Wenger-speak - we did well to come back from two goals down away from home on a dodgy pitch.

The result...
Was not a terrible one. If we're a few points short at the end of the season, I won't point to this match, or the one against Sunderland. I'd point out losing at home to West Brom and Spurs, and the draw against Newcastle. Picking up a couple of iffy results, is part and parcel of every season - whereas those results were frankly ridiculous.

To win nine in a row...
Is a massive challenge. I suspect if we beat United and win six other games, it may be enough. But there's no reason to think we can't win this League.

Keep the faith.

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