Something of a revolution yesterday as a very young Arsenal side won 2-0 at Birmingham. Without the drama queen that is Sol Campbell the boss rested Ljungberg, Pires and Bergkamp. Gilberto and Henry provided the only real outfield experience to speak of.
Flamini and Larsson were the emergency full backs as expected, we had double Swiss in the centre of defence while Cesc and Reyes came back into midfield.
We had a debut goal to put us in front from Emmanuel Adebayor. Hardly a thing of beauty but perhaps the scrappy, in the box kind of goal he was brought in to score. He could have had a second but for a very weak finish. Jens Lehmann had made a great save from Jarosik and the makeshift defence did well against the experience, power and slyness of Sutton and Heskey.
In the second half Birmingham continued their aerial bombardment and again the defence stood firm despite some hairy moments. Then Cesc released Thierry Henry and his left foot drive made it 2-0 and gave him his 200th Arsenal goal. Another fine landmark for the captain. Emile Heskey then tried to impale Senderos on his boots before picking up a second yellow for trying to elbow Flamini’s throat off. Red card for the lumbering buffoon he made a right twat of himself moaning to anyone who’d listen. Which was nobody, the cunt.
Afterwards the manager declared himself pleased with a rare away win and an rare clean sheet away from Highbury. He said “We showed a lot of character in a very difficult game and there were some performances that are very encouraging. We also had a lot of quality and effiecency as well so I am very pleased.”
Considering the young age of the team it’s a great result and show that these lads can do it and will do it in the future. Finding the consistency is going to be the hard part. Cesc showed how his game is so much better when he’s got someone fighting alongside him. The hard-working and increasingly impressive Abou Diaby will allow him to play the football we need him to play, his pass for Henry was a perfect example. Playing alongside Gilberto, who has been weak and insipid all season, does not allow us to get the best from the young Spaniard.
There’s a great article in today’s Observer by Amy Lawrence which says what I’ve been saying all season long. The young players aren’t the ones who have let us down, it’s the senior players – Gilberto, Pires, Ljungberg, Campbell and even Henry to an extent – who have caused the problems. As she points out only Lauren and Kolo (and I would include Jens Lehmann) can look back on what’s happened so far and not feel embarassed. The rest have been found wanting in various ways and while I think the vast majority of Arsenal fans have great regard for Arsene Wenger it’s fair to say he’s gambled a bit this season and made a mistake or two. What is encouraging though is the fact we can play without both regular wingers and Bergkamp and even though Gilberto was his usual terrible self yesterday we managed an away win with such a young team. If the kids are hungry and willing to fight for the cause I’ll be quite happy not to see some of the senior players again. With Kolo and Ashley cole soon to return (sadly Kolo won’t be back as soon as we hope after the Ivory Coast beat Cameroon 12-11 on penalties after 120 minutes – good for his stamina, I suppose) they’ll add the experience to compliment the youngsters.
And finally we come to Sol Campbell. The News of the World ‘exclusive’ wasn’t the one that people had been whispering about since Friday. A friend says he’s suffering from severe depression but Sol insists that there’s nothing wrong with him at all and that he’ll be back in training on Monday or Tuesday. At half-time during the West Ham game he told the manager he wouldn’t come out for the second half and apparently told team-mates ‘That’s it. I’m finished with football, I’m finished with this club. You are never going to see me again’.
He then stormed out the club which pays his wages, which has only two fit defenders at the moment and was incommunicado until the boss managed a quick conversation with him on Friday night. Then yesterday his solicitor released a statement saying “Sol is absolutely fine. I have been in continuous contact with him since Wednesday evening. He needed time and space to gather his thoughts. He has no personal problems whatsoever. He will be back in training next week. He just felt that he needed to take time out and take stock of the situation.”
Fantastic, isn’t it? You’ll forgive me if I have no sympathy for him whatsoever. He walked out on his club when we needed him, put us through a massive drama and it seems it’s because he’s a bit confused about his love life and three women he’s been seeing. Fucking hell. I suppose if he works hard, loses all the extra weight he’s carrying, finds some form again and we have another massive injury crisis then he might be useful but I’d be happy enough if he got nowhere near the first team again once everyone is fit. He doesn’t deserve it. He’d certainly be right at the top of the list of the summer clearout.
Anyway, hopefully we can draw a line under a line under the whole mess now. Enjoy your Sunday Arsenal fans.