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Arsenal paid the price for poor finishing and will now have to face a tough European team to qualify for the Champions League. Not only that but Arsenal’s only remaining goal for the season ended today as well i.e finishing third.

Arsenal_vs_Chelsea

The starting line-up was a big surprise as Fabianski started ahead of Almunia. Adebayor could only make it to the bench after his two non-appearances against Manchester United. Arshavin did not feature at all due to flu.

The game started in high tempo for Arsenal. Quick passing slick movement left Chelsea helpless. Walcott was sizzling and had nearly put Arsenal in the lead inside the first five minutes only for him to shoot high and wide of Petr Cech’s goal.

The Walcott had another attempt on goal but the angle was too tight to beat Cech and then another chance wasted as the youngster shot high. Walcott then turned the provider but his decent cut back was wasted by Abou Diaby. It was coming to Fabregas on his right foot but Diaby took it away from him.

Then a typical Arsenal move nearly sent Fabregas one on one with the keeper but the alert Cech came rushing to end the attack.

Then Diaby made an impressive run down the left flank and picked out the unmarked Walcott just outside the box. But it just wasn’t the Englishman’s day, or Arsenal’s day even. His first time shot went wide of the post.

Then finally Chelsea got their first chance but Malouda’s shot was blocked by Gibbs.

Next chance fell to Song but he too failed to hit the target. It seemed it just wasn’t Arsenal’s day and it was proven in the next minute.

Drogba dived and won a free kick. His delivery into the box was headed into the top corner with Fabianski unmoved.

After that goal Chelsea started dominating and they did not make the mistake that Arsenal did. Missing chances. So with their next chance Anelka fired them into a 2-0 lead with a stunner. Credit to the former Gunner for not celebrating.

Minutes into the second half Fabianski came off his line. Toure didn’t spot him and tried to block the cross and did not make proper contact which sent the ball into the back of the net. For the 2nd time in less than a week we were 3-0 down at the Emirates.

20 minutes later Bendtner headed in Arsenal’s first but had Toure not scored, maybe Arsenal would have had a chance at this stage.

Arsenal did try to get something from the game. The goal brought renewed confidence but the slight chances that remained were dashed by Florent Malouda who scored in the 86th minute, though he seemed offside. That wrapped up an unlucky day for the Gunners ending a 21 match unbeaten League run.

Arsene Wenger said judge me at the end of the season and here it, nearly the end of the season. What is your opinion of Arsene this season?

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Just like after every season in the past 4 years, we will all be saying we will win it next year. Disaster yet again. The commentator summed up the fans agony at the end when he said:

“Arsene says my players have the potential but when will this potential turn to prizes”

It’s a big question. Most people will say never. We can’t win it with these guys. We need a lot of improvements in the summer. We come up with excuses every year, with injuries being the biggest of them. This year Arshavin’s absence is another big excuse. But the bottom line is this squad just can’t win a trophy. We are good. No doubt about that. But Chelsea are better. Manchester United are better. Barcelona are better.

We have beaten Chelsea and United this season but that was in the League. There is no pressure in those matches compared to big semi finals and finals. So Arsene’s theory that his team’s quality can overcome the inexperience has been proven wrong this season. We need experience and we need more quality.

Ok Denilson has quality, Song has, Djourou has it, Bendtner has it. But compare them with Carrick, Essien, Tevez, Anelka and they are just not good enough. This team needs experience and talent that is polished. We don’t need raw talent. Talented players like Denilson and Gibbs can get you to the semi finals but when in pressure situations they will fail as the unfortunate slip of Gibbs suggested. He is a talented lad and we all feel sorry him, even one United fan said to me I really feel sorry for him.

But it is a lesson for Wenger. You need a better squad than this if you want trophies. Yesterday did it look like we were playing at Emirates. Certainly not. Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie tried all they could but they were helpless. United were too good.

And what about Walcott. He showed again he is so not a big match player. He is ruthless against poor defenders of small teams but where does his quality disappear when up against players like Evra, Vidic and Ferdinand.

This team needs a makeover. Fans are all sick of hearing we will win it next season. Next season they will be a year more experienced and they will do it. Will that ever be true?

Arshavin coming in really was a wake up call. Seeing him play and seeing other average players play really showed the lack of quality. We need better players if we are to win any trophy and Arsene has to accept that.

The more the trophyless seasons continue, Arsenal will start not to be known as a big club anymore. Big players wouldn’t join Arsenal. We can’t afford that. We need trophies and we want them quick.

There wouldn’t be a single person out there who would say no we don’t need any new players and that this squad is good enough. Except for Wenger of course.

Even fans of other clubs are amazed how can the manager of such a big club not win trophies for 4 years and still continue. I am not suggesting that he should be sacked because he shouldn’t be but that it’s not something ordinary for a big club to remain trophyless for 4 years. How can it happen again and again and yet the same mistakes are being repeated every year. With this lack of experience we won’t win anything. This squad is not good enough. Accept it or not but that is the harsh reality.

Ok it is a wonderful achievement to reach the semi finals of FA Cup and Champions League with such an extremely young side but who cares. A lot of years later will anyone remember that in 2009 Arsenal reached the the semi finals of Champions League? No, certainly not.  It is a win that will be remembered not a semi final appearance.

Arsene we all trust you and you have to admit this side won’t get us trophies. Improve it. We don’t want an entirely new 11. But a few improvements. A better forward that Adebayor. A better central midfielder. Maybe a better winger who can cross. And certainly a new centre half. It has to be done and it has to be done this summer. It has been a long enough wait already.

Arsenal avoided a thrashing thanks to the heroic Almunia but their dreams of winning a trophy this season seem to be over.

Needs to think hard before the next leg. Why not go for two up front? Dudu is good enough

Needs to think hard before the next leg. Why not go for two up front? Dudu is good enough

A 1-0 defeat doesn’t seem to be a bad result, especially considering it could easily have been a 3 or 4 nil defeat. But the problem is it’s hard to expect such a strong attacking side like Manchester United not to score against a defence with Silvestre in the centre.

And if United get just one goal, then against the likes of Vidic, Ferdinand and van der Sar, it’s also hard to expect Arsenal to score 3 goals.

Ok we haven’t conceded yet at the Emirates for 8 consecutive league games but did Torres play in one of those games? No. Drogba? No. Rooney, Ronaldo? No. So it’s not too special a run. What would be special is to extend it for one more match and score 2 with it!

I have had to listen to a lot of taunts of United and Chelsea fans lately that Arsenal are just good enough for matches against small teams. I have to remind them of our wins at San Siro, Stamford Bridge and against Manchester United only to be replied what about big matches against big teams? Lost to Liverpool in the quarter final last year, Chelsea in a final this year and now to Manchester United in a semi final. So do the nerves get to this too young a side. Possibly.

The way we started the match, especially the first half hour it seemed like Manchester United was playing against West Brom. Attack after attack. The goal was very very poor defending. Who was doing the marking. Who was supposed to be at the far post. It was a disgrace really.

As the game went on Arsenal did get into the game but how many shots on target did they have all match?! I think just one.

What did Fabregas do all match. One good through ball and a weak shot on target and that’s it. But at least he did that. Others didn’t even manage to do that little something. Walcott is so good at taking defenders on but those defenders are of Middlesbough etc. Why was he so silent against Evra. Play like that in the next leg and say goodbye to the trophy chances for yet another season.

The only positives from the game were Sagna, Gibbs and Almunia. Sagna’s defending is awesome but the problem is his crossing. Gibbs is top top quality. I don’t think Ronaldo and Rooney managed to get past him even once! And his crossing, making runs forward are all good. Future England left back! Almunia showed he will be England’s next number 1! His reflexes, strong hands, decision making; all perfect.

Because of them, especially Almunia, we are still somehow in this tie; however bleak the chances may be. It is an uphill task now. But Wenger is confident his team can do it, the players must be confident as well. So lets just hope for the best.

24 birthdays but none as bad as this. That is the story of Lukas Fabianski. Started the match by nearly conceding as he needlessly came off the line and ended it in the same fashion, except that this time he conceded.

Fabianski

Not many Arsenal fans were expecting a defeat considering the form they were it. It seemed we were invincible, but not anymore. FA Cup was the tournament we had the greatest chance of winning but we will have to wait yet another season now for it. To expect winning the Champions League is more hope than expectation. It seems another trophyless season it will be now…

It all started with bad news and ended with bad news as well. Denilson and Diaby preferred to Arshavin and Nasri. Wenger did manage to give a logical explanation as to why Nasri was not started but Arshavin. That was an unbeliavable decision. He had not featured in the mid-week match against Villareal so he was fresh and daring to have a go at Chelsea. Yet he is dropped. Wenger said when you have 8 matches in 24 days you can’t expect to play the same 11 in every match. But wait Arshavin didn’t play the last match. No reason to drop the best player of Russia in such a big match. Complaints later lets talk about the match.

Fabianski as expected was in goal. The same back four as against Villareal ahead of him as Gibbs passed a late fitness test. Walcott on the right, Fabregas, Denilson and Diaby in the centre. van Persie playing on the left and Adebayor the forward. The line-up raised a lot of eyebrows but Wenger isn’t a man who listens to others does he.

The match started with Arsenal clearly looking the better side. But that didn’t last. A howler from Fabianski nearly let Drogba give Chelsea an early lead but his header cleared off the line by Gibbs. Chelsea soon had another decent opportunity for Drogba. But the Ivorian’s touch too heavy and the chance went begging.

Chelsea couldn’t get the early lead but Arsenal did. Against the run of play Walcott put Arsenal ahead. Adebayor had the ball on the left flank, played a neat pass to Gibbs whose cross came straight to the unmarked Walcott inside the box. The youngster took the shot with his unfavoured left foot and it needed a deflection off the hand of Ashley Cole to beat Petr Cech.

Arsenal had got the goal but that was the only advantage they had as Chelsea continued to dominate. With a midfield comprising Ballack, Lampard and Essien against Diaby and Denilson, it was quite obvious Chelsea would dominate in midfield.

Walcott was looking very lively whenever he got the ball and Fabregas was brilliant as usual as well. The two nearly combined to increase the lead. Fabregas’s through ball met by Walcott who had his shot brilliantly saved by Cech. But Walcott had wrongly been called offside. Had Cech failed to stop the shot there would have been a lot of post match controversy.

Chelsea had an immediate reply though. Great vision and a pin point long ball by Lampard found Malouda just inside the box. A sublime first touch, got away from Eboue with the second and had a shot on goal with his right foot. Through Eboue legs and into the back of the net at Fabianski’s near post. Advantage Chelsea.

At this point everyone could feel that Almunia was being sorely missed. Fabianski was looking very nervous. He isn’t the worst of keepers but probably the nerves of playing in such a big match got to him.

It was one way traffic after that goal. Anelka had a stunning effort on goal but it hit the post and out. Diaby was at fault there. Trying to play pretty football inside the box isn’t something you should be doing in the FA Cup semi final against a team of Chelsea’s quality.

Next up Essien tried a curler but it was straight at Fabianski. Whenever Chelsea came near Arsenal’s goal, one feared Fabianski would mess up.

Even in the second half, Wenger’s motivating half time talk couldn’t do the trick as Chelsea continued from where they left. Lampard had a chance but superb tackle by Toure to deny him.

Both the sides had their chances. Walcott was the main player of Arsenal. Whipping in dangerous crosses in but no one getting on the end of them. Ashley Cole was looking hapless. Both side also had appeals for penalties turned down. Drogba and Lampard also combined nicely by Lampard volley went wide.

Honestly speaking, I feared Chelsea will inevitably score. They were looking too good and Fabianski too bad.

Arshavin and Nasri came on very late on. It was too little too late though. Ok they are wonderful players but you have to be sensible enough and not expect a miracle from them by bringing them on so late in the game.

A minute after Nasri came on, the worst happened. Drogba sent through by a long ball. The Chelsea forward shrugged off Silvestre and the Frechman virtually gave up his chase. Very poor defending. Then Fabianski capped up a hopeless performance by setting up Drogba’s goal. Came off his line. Tried to stop Drogba by a half stretch of his left leg. He was never going to be stopped that easily, got away and finished it with his left foot. Toure and Silvestre got back but too late, the ball had already crossed the line. You could see how furious Toure was seeing the ball cross the line. He secretly felt this game was over.

Wenger had a final throw of the die by taking Adebayor off and bringing Bendtner on. Bendtner can be a good super sub and he nearly forced extra time. Got away from a couple of defenders and sent a cross in. Arshavin got on the end of it and had a shot. The shot had beaten Cech and was heading for goal only for Alex to step in and put the ball away for a corner. The corner saw Cech flapping at the ball resluting in another corner. Similar flapping by Cech but this time the ball was cleared. Match over. Dream over.

Drogba yet again brought tears to the Arsenal fans eyes. Dumped Arsenal in the League Cup final two years back and does the same in the FA Cup semi final this year. Arsenal fans will have to live with the regret that if Almunia and Gallas were fit maybe the result would have been different. Nothing can be done now and Arsenal are out of the FA Cup

Injuries have killed yet another season of Arsenal.

Ivanovic hardly had anything to do all match. A player of Arshavin’s quality would just have ripped him apart. But no Wenger thought Diaby would do a better job than Arshavin.

And Adebayor really needs to start fighting for long balls. Fabregas sends brilliant long balls to him. And what does he do! Makes a run forward in the vain hope that the defender might fail to head the ball and it will fall to him. That is never going to happen Ade. At least not against a team of Chelsea’s quality.

Lets forget about it now, though I just cant get it out of my mind! So one can imagine how hard it will be for the players to get over this defeat. Lets hope they get over it as soon as possible or it might even result in a Champions League semi final defeat. They need to re focus quickly. This season may seem to be over but it’s not as yet…

What a match! 15 minutes before the match the starting line-up made me really excited. We had been waiting for so long to see so many first team players in one side and today was the day. The line-up promised an exciting game and it lived up to its expectations.

The men of the moment!

The men of the moment!

Walcott on the right, Arshavin on the left, Denilson, Song and Fabregas in the centre. If Nasri didn’t have flu this would have the perfect midfield. Anyway Adebayor was back alongwith Fabregas. He was the lone forward as van Persie and Eduardo didn’t feature due to groin injuries suffered during the international break.

The first chance of the match fell to Manchester City as Denilson’s attempted clearance fell to De Jong who tested Almunia but the Spaniard had no problem making the save.

But Arsenal looked bright from the start. Fluent passing which Man City had no answer to and they were soon rewarded for the good start. Robinho brought Sagna down near the touchline and the returning captain stepped up to take the free kick, sent in a delightful delivery into the box which Adebayor powered home with a standing header. Poor defending by City and they paid the price for it. What made the first goal look better was that it was Fabregas assisting Adebayor, both of whom are returning from long lay-offs.

But the goal sparked a surge of attacks from the visitors. Richards was sent through by Wright-Phillips but the shot expertly saved by Almunia and the Fernandes found himself right in front of the goal with the keeer at his mercy. But the holding midfielfer isn’t the best of finishers around and it showed. Lashed at the shot and it hit the outside of the post. Surely Bellamy or Robinho would have put that away. Arsenal needed to defend better to avoid giving away such chances.

Surprisingly it was Toure who had the next Arsenal chance. Made a piercing run but in the end the angle was too tight to beat Given. He still had his shot saved by Given. Chances also came Arshavin’s and Song’s way but it remained 1-0 at the break.

The second half started with Arsenal’s dominance continuing and they got what they got at the start of the first. A goal! Fabregas’s inch perfect chipped pass over Dunne found Adebayor. The Togolese forward rounded off Given and made no mistake with the finish.

Man City were down and out after this goal. Song headed wide, Denilson shot wide and Walcott had a fair few attempts but most went wide and one punched away by Given. Eboue came on and looked full of energy and nearly made it three but he is never going to learn to finish is he! He lashed at the shot and as expected it went hopelessly wide. Bendtner also had a decent chance but he couldn’t conrol his final shot. Ramsey had a go too but none could make it 3.

We saw today just how much Denilson and Song lack on the attacking front. Fabregas was truly amazing today and showed how much we missed him. Adebayor before getting injured couldn’t get goals but I had said at that time he is nothing without Fabregas and you saw it today! It was a near perfect performance today and hopefully we can continue the momentum to Spain so that we can go into the  2nd leg of the Champions League quarter final with a lead.

To end a good day for Gooners Fabregas yet again assured Arsenal fans of his future at Arsenal saying:

“I am very happy at Arsenal and have said it many times – but I cannot control what the media say.

“When they speak for me, I cannot understand it because only my friends, family and the boss know what I think.

“It is just a story which will go on and on – even if I was to say that I would retire here.

“I am proud to be captain of this club and see my future at Arsenal.”

They say all is well that ends well and it looks like this season, after a far from decent start, might end just the way we wanted it to!

We just can’t stop winning now can we! Yet another brilliant performance from the Arsenal as they gain a 3 point lead over Aston Villa which might not last long if Villa win against Liverpool though it seems highly unlikely as the Reds are in hot form. One thing is confirmed after the thrashing though, the gap between Chelsea and Arsenal is down to just 6 points.

Almunia

It was yet another typical Arsenal performance. The free flowing passing football that we were so used to seeing last season was missing this season but not anymore. 4-0, 2-1 and through to the semis of FA Cup, 3-1. You can’t ask for more! The starting line-up surprised me as Diaby played instead of Song. Song is going through the form of his life and I am not the biggest of fans of Diaby. But the young Frechman would soon show us he deserved to start! Arsenal made a good start when Gallas failed to make contact with the ball from a decent van Persie corner. Next up van Persie sent Bendtner through but the angle was now against the Dane. He had a shot but it was a comfortable save for Harper. Newcastle were starting to press more and had most of the possession and they were soon to be rewarded for it. A cross sent in. Almunia tried to punch it away but couldn’t. Tried to retrieve the ball from Taylor but appeared to have brought the Newcastle man down. Penalty given. The clinical finisher Martins stepped up to take it. Went for the bottom corner but Almunia dived the right way and saved! What a start to the match. At this point in time Newcastle manager would be regretting his decision not to start Owen who surely would have put the penalty away. The next real chance came Arsenal’s way. van Persie finds Arshavin inside the box. The Russian takes the ball away from the defender making space for the shot and lashes at it but a superb block by Steven Taylor to deny him his 2nd goal for the club. Both the teams are having turns at getting goal scoring opportunities! Martins plays a neat ball to Lovenkrands. He is about to unleash the shot just inside the box but Clichy steps in and clears it away for a corner. A vital clearance and at that time I was scared Clichy might give away a penalty afterall he is an expert at fouls inside the box! Arsenal’s turn now. Arshavin given the ball at the half way line. Gets away from one defender… two… goes for the spectacular and wow what an effort. Hits the bar but exceptional stuff by the little Russian. Next up Nolan crosses in to Lovenkrands. A clear goal scoring opportunity but it goes begging. Arsenal break away. Diaby on the ball but gives it away cheaply. Newcastle’s turn again. Martins gets the ball. Turns. Has a shot but just outside the post. Then van Persie is picked out by a great ball by Nasri. The Dutchman controls well but in doing so Harper came right in front of him and made an easy save. Next up a chance for Bendtner to have a shot on goal but instead he finds van Persie. Steven Taylor with another goal saving block this time denying van Persie. He was reminding me of John Terry with his blocks! Half time. What a half of football. Both the sides had their chances but Arsenal had the better half. Diaby was hopeless and needed to improve.

Second half’s first real chance was from an Arsenal free kick. Arshavin to take it. Sends a delightful delivery into the box, headed in by Bendtner. Arsenal broke their deadlock and Newcastle did the same 47 seconds later. Newcastle went for a pressing attack straight from the kick off. Martins tried to get away from Gallas to have an opportunity to shoot. But Gallas did the job for him. Attempts a hopeless clearance giving the ball back to Martins who slams the ball into the bottom corner. There was nothing Almunia could do. Game on once again. But Arsenal didn’t make the scoreline last long. 5 minutes later Diaby tries a one-two with van Persie which gives him loads of space in front of the goal. He kept going and when defenders drew near from both the sides he powerfully sent the ball into the roof of the net! Who would have expected Diaby to score! Unbelievable stuff. 3 minutes later van Persie picks out Nasri who must have been surprised with the amount of space he got. Smashed the ball into the bottom corner at the near post. 3-1 with 4 goals in 10 minutes! Chances came Denilson’s and Gallas’s way. Denilson’s shot saved by Harper and Gallas failed to get sufficient contact on his header from a corner. van Persie had a chance. One on one with Harper but in trying to round the keeper the angle became too tight and the chance ended. It was all Arsenal now. Bendtner poorly heads wide from a Sagna cross. van Persie shoots over. The last chance of the match fell to Diaby but his effort strikes the post. 3-1 it ends and a deserving victory for Arsenal.

Nasri

Defensively Arsenal were poor at times today. We are seeing defensive lapses in nearly every match now. Improvement needed. On the positive side the wing backs played well. Sagna sending in decent crosses in and Clichy was very effective going forward, did not attempt his hopeless crosses and was sound defensively making a goal saving tackle as well. The central midfielders were lost all match. I can’t wait to see Fabregas back again. Nasri and Arshavin were too good. They pulled all the strings for Arsenal. Everything they did was just perfect. Bendtner once again worked extremely hard. His movement on and off the ball is quite good. Once he improves his finishing he can become a very good forward. van Persie is missing too many chances but at leas he is getting the assists.

I think we can start hoping for a top 3 finish even. Add to that Arsenal having quite a chance in the FA Cup and you can’t rule them out of the Champions League just as yet.

It may have been a frustrating night and an average performance but still a win is a win and that’s what matters in the end.

Gallas celebrates

The game started in disastrous fashion for the hosts. They could not get into their quick passing football at the start and looked uncomfortable when in possession and they paid the price for it. Hull pounced on the first available opportunity. Barmby took a shot that took a huge deflection off Djourou and lofted over the helpless Fabianski. 1-0 to the visitors and it seemed Hull were up for another upset at the Emirates. But Arsenal had other plans. That goal was a wake up call for the Gunners. After that they started to dominate and that continued till the end. But occasional opportunities for Hull remained and they got one very soon after the first goal. A free kick given away by Gallas just outside the box and we have seen Geovanni score from that range before. His free kick was nearly a body blow for Arsenal. Heading for the top corner but Fabianski dived and punched the ball out for a corner. A world class save to deny Hull a dangerous 2-0 lead. After that chances kept falling Arsenal’s way but no clear cut chance. It remained 1-0 at half time and Arsenal needed to improve if they were too keep alive their dream of winning the FA Cup. van Persie was quite surprising in the first half. He looked helpless whenever he recieved the ball and couldn’t do anything noteable. Diaby was as worse. 90% of his passes were to Gallas and Sagna. He looked too hesitant to make forward passes.

Wenger’s half time talk reaped fruit for Arsenal. The second half was sheer domination for Arsenal. They nearly broke the deadlock with a Diaby header from a corner but the ball went wrong side of the post. Then a header cleared off the line came to Song with his back towards goal. The Cameroon international tried an athletic effort but once again off target. The pressure was mounting but Arsenal failed to convert their opportunities to goals. With 20 minutes remaining I feared this is not our day. Visions of Arsenal vs West Ham came to my mind and this match seemed just like it. Chance after chance but they couldn’t score heading for defeat. Even when Nasri and Bendtner came on, the number of chances increased but the goal was still lacking. Eventually substitute Bendtner got away from two defenders inside the box and was at a very acute angle towards the goal. He picked out the unmarked Arshavin at the far post. The Russian instead of attempting a difficult finish from a tight angle found van Persie right ahead of the goal, he too was unmarked, and he did not make any mistake. Lashed it into the top of the net with a first time effort by his right foot. Finally Hull’s resistance had snapped thanks to some poor defending. After that Hull could not do what they had been doing all match – time wasting. So as they tried to attack, Arsenal’s attacks became more dangerous. The winner came with just around 5 mins to go. Once again a substitute was involved. Nasri’s free kick lofted into the box. Three four players and the keeper went for the ball and eventually it landed to Gallas who was expecting the ball to come to him. A simple header to make it 2-1. Hull were furious as they claimed Gallas was offside and replays suggested they were right. But it seemed Myhill could have had the last touch before the ball fell to Gallas. Because of the number of chances they created Arsenal deserved to win!

Fabianski had a very good match. He was not at fault in the goal and apart from it he was brilliant. Sagna worked his socks off. Equally impressive at defending and attacking but it was his poor clearance that set up Hull’s opening goal. Djourou was poor. Gallas was solid. Gibbs was terrific. Unbelievable performance from the youngster. I was particularly pleased with his crossing apart from defending and runs. He is like a young version of Clichy except that his crosses are much much better. He has a great future ahead of him. Arshavin was exceptional yet again. He can pick out brilliant defence piercing through balls out of nowhere. Amazing. Song was good once again, solid. Diaby was very poor in the first half but better in the second. Walcott was great as expected. Vela and van Persie were poor mostly. Vela had a bad day but he is far more capable than how he played today.

Moving to some controversial issues now. Phil Brown accused Fabregas of spitting at Hull’s assistant manager Brian Horton. What a hopeless accusation. I can’t even imagine Fabregas doing such a vulgar act. What a bad loser Brown is. Just because you have been dumped out of the cup by fat better opposition doesn’t mean you put out baseless accusations. Fabregas has immediately denied it saying he hasn’t done it on the pitch even so why would he do it when he is not even playing. Its odd that Brown is the one making the accusation not the victim himself! It kind of shows someone is just lying. Trying to take his anger out on someone! But it’s not proven yet. I sure hope Cesc didn’t do it.

As for Wenger not shaking hands with the lizard-face, it was Brown who rushed down the tunnel first I think. Even if he hadn’t gone down first he looked disgusted and not in the mood of  a handshake so nothing Wenger could have done really. Bad loser Brown.

In a match in which there was no standout performer for Arsenal, Arsene Wenger’s club still managed to win the tie on penalties. It ended 1-0 to Roma after extra time and they deserved it. But as Wenger said the mental strength of the young Arsenal side was unbelievable.

van Persie!

Arsenal knew coming into this match that if they score just one goal, Roma will have an uphill task of scoring 3 to go through. But on the other hand an early goal for Roma would put the tie right in the balance and that is exactly what happened thanks to some poor defending by the Arsenal back four. Totti sent a weak, low cross in. Gallas tried to stop it but couldn’t, Toure attempted to clear it with his left foot but couldn’t. It came to Taddei who let it run to the unmarked Juan at the far post. Clichy should have been there marking the Brazilian but instead the young left back was in no man’s land. Juan collected the ball and slammed it past Almunia to make it 1-1 on aggregate in just the 9th minute of the match. It was game on. Roma kept pressing but so did Arsenal. Diaby had a chance from a corner but he could not get sufficient power behind his header. Then a golden chance for Roma to put Arsenal under immense pressure. Motta had a powerful shot which was punched away by Almunia straight to Taddei but Almunia denied Taddei with a fingertip save. To end the first half, the referee made a bad decision, though for us it was a good one! Clichy apparently had brought Motta down inside the box but the referee waved away the appeals for a penalty, wrongly it seemed. It was quite an even first half but Roma had the better chances. Arsenal had nearly 60% possession but despite that they had failed to create a clear cut goal scoring opportunity.

The second half saw more of the same with Roma clearly being the better side. There were a few half chances for both sides. Bendtner nearly went one on one with Doni but a misplaced pass by Eboue wasted a could-be golden opportunity. Baptista had the best chance of the match. Totti sent a great ball to the Beast which he somehow failed to control, if he had managed to control it he would have had Almunia at his mercy. There was another decent chance for Roma but Sagna made an amazing tackle to end the attack. Normal time ended with everyone looking fatigued apart from the substitutes.

Extra time showed how tired out everyone was. No real attacks from either side and as it was nearly 4am here, the 30 minutes made me really sleepy! It was time now for penalties. The mental strength of the youth of Arsenal against that of the experienced Roma.

Substitute Eduardo stepped up to take the first penalty of the shootout. He had a very poor substitute appearance so far but I just knew he was going to score. But he shocked us all with a poor penalty. Too close to the keeper. At this moment I felt this is not our day. Pizarro came up and dispatched his penalty and van Persie did the same. Then the unexpected happened again. Vucinic of all people hit the penalty straight at Almunia and well done by Almunia too. Then Nasri scored and so did Montello. When Denilson came, I had a bad feeling he is going to miss the penalty. The Brazilian smashed his penalty straight down the middle but fortunately Doni had dived. Then Totti expertly scored his penalty. Walcott did the same and Sagna, Toure also scored but their penalties were canceled out by Aquilani, Brighi and Riise. Diaby then converted his spot kick and Tonnetto blasted his over the bar and the Gunners were through to the quarter finals! The stadium was silenced as Arsenal players were jumping around with joy, hugging each other and waving towards the traveling Gooners. It was a victory that towards the end, I was losing hope of but the Gunners did not let their fans down. It may not have been a performance to remember but its the result that matters and Arsenal got it.

One has to admit we are extremely lucky to go through. There was a clear penalty for Roma not given. That Baptista chance would have easily been put away on any other day and most of our penalties were easily stoppable if Doni had dived the right way. I think only Nasri’s and van Persie’s penalties were good, others were all stoppable (though I don’t exactly remember). It was very nice to see luck on our side for a change! Luck is vital. You don’t win trophies just by pure class, you need luck too and it seems Arsenal had loads of it last night. Hopefully that can continue for the rest of the season! We may have gone through but it was not a performance to be proud of. We need to make ammends. If we can’t create chances against Roma then it would be far more difficult against the likes of Manchester United and Barca. Only Almunia and Sagna played well. Others were average. Gallas and Toure weren’t bad either but their mistake for the goal could have proved costly. So defensively we looked sound. On the attacking front though, dramatic improvements are needed. On the positive side, we still have the Champions League and FA Cup within our sights.

Nicklas Bendtner has finally done it for himself and for Arsenal! After 4 matches or more than 360 minutes of Premier League football, Arsenal have scored a goal. It was a night we had been waiting for for quite some time.

Arsenal celebrate

Arsenal made a flying start with Bendtner putting the visitors ahead in as early as the 4th minute. After a corner, the ball dropped to Denilson outside the box who found an unmarked Bendtner. The Dane took the defender on, got away from him and unleashed an unstoppable strike into the bottom corner with his left foot. A superb finish from the forward who was extremely low on confidence before this match. From the football that Arsenal were playing it seemed we would finally get a deserving victory but Chris Brunt scored a stunner. The goal came completely out of the blue but if anyone thought that goal would shift the momentum of the game, they were badly mistaken. Arsenal continued to dominate with only a few attacks for West Brom. Soon after Bendtner wasted a clear goal scoring opportunity. Eboue found Bendtner inside the box after a defence piercing run but the young forward blasted his shot over the cross bar. Moore had a desperate effort on goal against the run of play but Almunia reacted well to make a decent stop. Arshavin and Eboue also had attempts on goal but both failed to hit the target. Seeing the amount of chances being created, one could sense a goal was to come soon and it was Arshavin who provided it. Sent a delightful delivery into the box which was headed in by the captain Toure. But Toure wasn’t done yet. This time he was the provider, sent an awesome long ball over the Albion defence to Bendtner who knocked the ball on with his thigh and then took a superb volley. Carson hardly had any time to react as the ball ended up in the goal. 3-1 at half time and one expected to see a couple more after the break but sadly 3-1 it remained till the end thanks to some world class goal keeping by Carson. The 2nd half had more chances than the first. Arshavin looked great whenever on the ball, though he looked completely tired out. He had two powerful shots on goal, saved on both occassions. Bendtner nearly completed his first hat trick for the club only to unluckily hit the post. Diaby had a shot deflected over the bar and Eboue missed from close range. Late on West Brom had a golden opportunity to get a consolation goal but Fortune fired the ball wide of the post. Right at the end Arshavin again nearly got his first goal for Arsenal but he was yet again frustrated by Scott Carson who produced another quality save.

The second half of the match showcased the form we have been going through. We created a host of chances and yet we could not find the back of the net. But as long as we got the win I don’t mind! We will need to step up now. West Brom are the worst side in the League at the moment so we shouldn’t get carried away with this win. We will soon be facing much tougher opposition but if we play the way we did today, apart from a bit of poor finishing and some hard luck with Carson’s brilliance.

Denilson had a terrific performance. Song didn’t do well and same for Djourou. Djourou was our worst player. Arshavin was top class. Bendtner had the best game of his life! Diaby looked decent and I was impressed by Merida’s little cameo. And Nasri was superb!

The closest Arsenal came to scoring

The closest Arsenal came to scoring

Cardiff, Everton, West Ham and now Tottenham. 4 straight draws and Arsenal are now 7 points behind Aston Villa. The Gunners now face an uphill task of  securing the Champions League spot. It seems quite unlikely now.

It was Arsenal who held Spurs to a draw and not Arsenal being held to a draw. Arsenal were dominated for most periods of the match and in the end a last minute save by Almunia saved the point.

The first half started with the hosts dominating. Slowly Arsenal seemed to get back into it and showed glimpses of brilliance, the Arsenal which we all want to see. Eboue looked full of energy but the hype of the ocassion got to him. First yellow carded for dissent for sheer stupidity and then stupidity once again earned him a second yellow and a red. The player let the fans, the manager and his teammates down. Then on Spurs had the numerical advantage and soon after the sending off Adebayor had to go off, injuring his hamstring. It seemed it just wasn’t our day. Half time approached and we did not have a single shot on goal. But we had our chances and we unfairly denied a clear goal by Eboue.

Nasri had a great first half

Nasri had a great first half

The second half saw more of the same, but even more domination by Spurs. Half chance after half chance but no real clear cut chance for either side. Spurs came closest to scoring with a Robbie Keane header just over the bar. Song also had a shot from a corner just outside the post. van Persie’s effort from a corner went wide. Right at the end Arsenal seemed to have given Spurs a big blow but Bendtner’s shot saved by Cudicini. And then on the counter Modric got a one on one with Almunia, only to be denied by a world class save by Almunia. But it was a poor finish by Modric too.

No Arshavin all match seemed very surprising. The Russian wasn’t match fit so Wenger didn’t start him. Fine. But why not give him 20 30 minutes?! Arsenal were looking poor at the end and needed Arshavin if they were to win. But it was as if Wenger was happy with a draw and Arshavin did not come on. We were lucky to get a draw in the end.

Wenger was a frustrated man at the end especially angered at the disallowed goal:

“I feel it is two points dropped because we had the best chances and we scored a regular goal that was ruled out by an illusionary foul seen by only the referee. I watched it three times on television and I still don’t see what was wrong. That is why at the end of the day it’s frustrating.”

Player Ratings:

Almunia – 8 – Had it not been for him, it would have been yet another defeat for Arsenal.

Sagna – 8 – As usual a brilliant performance. Did everything right. Especially when Eboue was sent off, he was the right back cum right winger and yet he did really well. Has amazing stamina.

Gallas – 7.5 – Did not put a foot wrong all match.

Toure – 6.5 – A couple of dangerous mistakes from the Ivorian but fortunately he got away with them.

Clichy – 7 – Did well. His injury was a big blow but he should be back for the next match.

Eboue – 4 – Arsenal did not win because of his sending off. He was after so long looking very good and was unfairly denied a goal. He seemed to pop up everywhere and it seemed it was going to be his day. But his character let him down. He has apologized for the red card but it won’t get Arsenal three points so no use.

Denilson – 7.5 – A nice little performance from him. He is starting to play quite well now. Made crucial interceptions and created a few chances. Just needs to work on his passing so he can provide killer passes. That is something he lacks.

Song – 7.5 – For the first time in quite a long time I was impressed  by him. He can be quite a good holding midfielder. Needs to be a lot more consistent though.

Nasri – 7.5 – Tried really hard all match. But I have been noticing that in the last 15 20 minutes he disappears.

van Persie – 7.5 – Like Nasri, tried to do something all match but in the end did not get too much support as Arsenal had a three man midfield of which Denilson and Song were mostly defending.

How bad will Adebayor's injury affect Arsenal

How bad will Adebayor's injury affect Arsenal

Adebayor – 5 – Could not play for long and the time that he was on, he did not do anything notable.

Substitutes:

Bendtner – 6 – Good movement off the ball, but he just isn’t an Arsenal player I feel.

Gibbs – Too little time to make an impact.

– Can anyone tell me where has Vela disappeared?! I am surprised. He has put up quite decent performances when given the chance, yet of all the praise that Wenger showered on him and his impressive performances in the Carling Cup he has not been given enough chances. I don’t get it.

– Adebayor is out for three weeks