Three points at the Grove at last even though listening on the radio you felt it had the potential to another one of those days at the end of the first half. We hadn’t clicked, a number of players seemed to be not at the races and Sheffield United were playing and defending very well.
The chief culprit, if you want to call him that, appeared to be Thierry Henry. Nothing was coming off for him and his lack of sharpness and match fitness was apparent but like Cesc last week against United he’s the kind of player you have to leave on because he can make things happen even when he’s not at his best.
And so it proved. He made the first when he clipped a little ball through for the onrushing Cesc whose touch set it up perfectly for William Gallas to volley home his first Arsenal goal. Less than 5 minutes later he went into the box, knocked it past a couple of defenders and crossed it for Phil Jagielka to score his first Arsenal own goal. And with ten minutes to go he made it 3-0 himself nodding home Manu Eboue’s pinpoint cross, the sort of ball that if he could produce on a regular basis would improve his game a huge amount.
While the manager might well have been right to take Henry off yesterday his faith in him was repaid and it’ll do the captain the world of good to have contributed so much and scored a good goal. .
Afterwards Arsene Wenger admitted the team were nervous but that the win came from an improved second half performance. He said:
I feel that we kept our nerve, and that despite the fact that we did not play very well in the last 20 minutes of the first half, we came back with more quicker passing, more determination – as as well quicker defending. When we lost the ball we put them under pressure – what we didn’t do enough in the first half.
Of course after just 2 home games it was a little early to be talking about a ‘hoodoo’ but everyone will be glad to have gotten the first win at the new stadium. And it’s really not a game that deserves much more analysis.
In a quick round up of the Sunday papers, which seem to be fairly free of rubbish transfer stories (the one good thing about the transfer windows), you can find an interview with Theo Walcott in the Sunday Times. I haven’t read it yet, it can wait till I get the papers and cook breakfast.
And that’s about that. A Champions League week ahead. More on that Monday and Tuesday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.