Well, that was more like it. A 3-0 victory over Sp*rs was no less than we deserved although there was a whiff of contention about each goal. For the first Sp*rs claimed Adebayor was offside but he was no more offside than Anelka was for Bolton the week before so maybe there’s a bit of ying and yang going on there.
For the second Chimbonda probably did get a faint touch on the ball but if you slide tackle someone from behind in the box you run the risk of the ref giving a penalty and so it was. Maybe we could point at the penalty we didn’t get at West Ham and suggest that these things even them out over the course of the season.
And the third was another penalty when Robin van Persie was clearly tripped by Jermaine Jenas. On the replays it looked like there was a handball in the build up, hard to say if it was deliberate or not, and this one, you could say, was given because of … er … well, just because Sp*rs are cunts.
It was a well deserved victory and a much needed tonic for everyone, fans, players and manager alike, after what has been a difficult week. Of course it’s only one game and if your players couldn’t get motivated for a North London derby then there’d be something seriously wrong but there was a work ethic, a desire and hunger to get stuck in and scrap which was so badly missing in the previous two games. Gilberto Silva’s two penalties were perfect, there isn’t a keeper in the world who would have saved them and I doff my cap to Emmanuel Adebayor who was really excellent.
I think in the frustration of previous poor performances I, amongst others, have been too quick to judge him. He really was fantastic yesterday and he deserved the man of the match award. He took his goal brilliantly, put himself about, worked hard all over the pitch and he seems to be developing a nice habit of scoring in big matches. What’s so confusing about him is his ability to play like that and also his ability to play so poorly but I guess that’s just youth and we have to give him more time to become consistent. Let’s see how he does from now until the end of the season and then we’ll talk more about him. In the 4-4-2 Robin van Persie was very good as well.
For the only slight concern is Eboue’s tendency to, how shall I put it, make the very most of any tackle on him. Seeing him writhe on the floor after a fairly innocuous challenge from Malbranque only to get up to confront the Sp*rs player then try to writhe around on the ground some more and eventually come back on with not a limp after extensive treatment from Gary Lewin was embarrassing. It’s what used to bother me about Reyes as well. As the player tries to save face by making themselves appear more injured than they actually are we’re down to 10 men and could be punished as a result. Not for the first time I really hope someone takes him aside and tells him this isn’t good enough. He’s a big lad and he’s not made of bone china. Sort it out, Eboue.
Afterwards the manager, as you would expect, praised the team and their spirit. He said:
We showed spirit, character, determination, good organisation as well, I must say, against a good Tottenham team, but things went for us today.
And that’s true. We did get a bit of luck yesterday whereas in previous games we haven’t perhaps had the slice of fortune on our side that would have turned the result around but the effort the lads put in compared to Sp*rs lacklustre performance meant we got what we merited in the end. What we need now is for the boys to put in that sort of effort week in week out and on days when our football doesn’t quite click that spirit and desire will get us results we might have struggled to get in recent times. You can’t underestimate how important it is.
Overall it was a good performance, full of heart, and an outstanding result.
Now, on to the Thierry Henry situation. After reports of a bust-up between the captain and the manager Thierry gave an interview yesterday morning in which he denied a bust-up and revealed he was going to be out for a while in order to get fully fit. He said:
Nothing that has been said in the paper is true and it’s a bit of a shame that all the time you have to come out and justify stuff in this country. I did leave the training ground disappointed on Friday because I wanted to play against Spurs. Nobody forced me to not play. It was a discussion that we had and I was upset because I don’t like to not play. I want to be on the pitch. But sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and listen to your body.
Afterwards the manager was more cryptic and cagey about the whole situation, saying:
I want to sit down with him and tell him what I expect of him when he has recovered. I have said many times that this team is not a one-player team. I don’t want to talk more about it. I want to give a lot of credit to the team and the rest is internal matters.
And that’s the way it should be at Arsenal. If the captain says nothing happened then we should probably take him at face value. He’s always been an honest guy.
However, if something did happen which displeased the manager and forced him to take disciplinary action then you have to say that Henry didn’t sulk, didn’t pout and did all the right things. He was there for the team before the game, he supported them during the game and was there to congratulate them, publicly, afterwards. Maybe that’s what the manager expects from him.
There doesn’t seem to be much point in talking about it any further although the tabloids and message boards will be full of speculation. At the end of the day the manager will always do what’s best for the club and I have no doubt that’s what he will do or has done in this case. End of story for me.
In a quick round-up of other stories Julio Baptista wants more time in the first eleven at Arsenal. He’s had a difficult start and injuries have hampered him getting into the team on a regular basis. We still don’t quite know where he’s going to play. I have a sneaky feeling he’s going to start against Porto on Wednesday. If he does it’s up to him to take his chance.
Speaking of Porto Amy Lawrence writes about our game, amongst others, in the Observer. I’ll preview the game more fully during the week.
And that’s about it. The Sunday papers will be fun to read today so that’s what I’m off to do along with a nice big fry (I’m going to eat the fry, not read the fry). Till tomorrow.