Thursday, December 7, 2023

Eduardo makes the difference

Burnley 0-2 Arsenal
Arsene Wenger has never lost a 3rd round FA Cup tie and he continued that record yesterday with a decent win over a decent Burnley side. As expected we rested lots of players but even still there was no room in the 16 for want-away Lassana Diarra. More on that later.

Jens was in goal for what might be his last Arsenal game (more on that later too) and he didn’t get near a great Burnley chance after about 5 minutes when their lad smashed a header off the crossbar. That was a real let-off for us and they do say that ‘smaller’ clubs need to take their chances against the big boys and so it proved when Eduardo put us ahead just a couple of minutes later. Kolo dinked a nice ball over the top, Eduardo ran onto it and despite the close attention of the defender kept his cool and slid it past the keeper. 1-0 Arsenal.

Gilberto had a header which cannoned around before being cleared off the line and Nicklas Bendtner had an overhead kick saved by the baggy-pants keeper. All the while Burnley played some decent football without really causing us too many problems.

Into the second half then and the home side were reduced to 10 men when Kyle Lafferty was somewhat harshly, I thought, shown a red card by Alan Wiley. I thought it was a genuine attempt to play the ball and while it was slightly over the top of the ball (which he got some of too) it wasn’t two-footed like some of the challenges we’ve seen recently. Yes, he caught Gilberto who isn’t one for overreacting but I’d have been very unhappy if one of ours had been given a red card for that. It seemed to bolster Burnley though as for about 10 minutes afterwards you’d have thought it was us with 10 as they kept possession, played some nice stuff and had us halfway on the backfoot, if that makes sense.

Eventually the extra man, and the extra quality began to count. Eduardo should have had his second but he shot just wide and then the Crozilian turned provider, picking out Bendtner’s fine run with a lovely pass and the young Dane took it away from the keeper and finished to make it 2-0 and to secure the game for Arsenal. There’s no question Eduardo is really having a big impact now, perhaps there’s something to this 6 month settling in period after all.

To be honest we didn’t really click yesterday. Too many players were off colour and Burnley played well, as Arsene pointed out. I have to say Abou Diaby is worryingly lazy at times and really does dwell far too long on the ball. He and Lassana Diarra are big mates so you wonder if Diarra’s discontent is having an effect. Also, while we will certainly miss Kolo Toure when he goes to the ACN the same cannot be said of Eboue who really was appalling yesterday. I struggle to see what he brings to this Arsenal team. There’s no doubt in my mind Diarra is a better player and could do a better job on the right hand side but there’s something odd going on there.

Before the game the manager said Diarra would be involved and then all of a sudden he’s not even in the squad – and let’s be fair the bench was very youthful yesterday. It could mean that a deal to sell Diarra has been done, it could mean that he’s being punished for acting out of turn. Who knows? The unfortunate thing is that Diarra is a good player, he’s a full French international, long term he’s a great replacement for Gilberto, he can play the Flamini role, and has shown a lot of promise in his short time at the club. However, that’s tempered with the knowledge that he’s obviously impetuous and hot-headed when you consider the comments he’s made after just a few months at the club. I can understand why Arsene wants to keep him but there’s definitely an issue that needs to be resolved one way or the other. One way is he gets his head down and works hard to earn a place in the team, the other is that we sell him. Which will it be?

Positives though were that Eduardo is continuing his good form and he seems to have worked up a decent partnership with Bendtner who, despite being off the pace a little bit, showed again that he can get you a goal. Philippe Senderos had a solid game at the back, which he’ll need to get under his belt with Kolo’s absence kicking in, Bacary Sagna was fantastic again, and when you think about the fact we had nearly a whole team missing/rested/injured it’s good to know we can win games like that.

Jens kept a clean sheet on what may have been his last Arsenal appearance. Afterwards the boss didn’t know if that was the case, saying:

We’d like him to stay but I’ve said many times, the ball is in his court. If he decides to go I don’t want to close the door for him because of the European Championship.

We heard earlier in the day that Jens was going to make a decision in a couple of days, describing it as ‘difficult’. The man has his family to consider, his children’s schooling and such, as well as what’s best for him in a football way. You have to think from a football only perspective the move to Dortmund is the right one but then we have to remember footballers have real life to deal with as well. No doubt we’ll hear more on this during the week.

So, with passage to the 4th round of the cup safely navigated we can now concentrate on Wednesday’s game against Sp*rs in the Carling Cup. More on that in the next couple of days.

So, how was your weekend then? Better than Cuntley Cunt’s, I’d imagine (hahahaha).

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