Ooh, that’s why I’m easy
I’m easy like Sunday morning
Lionel Richie could have been singing just for me this morning, as I strolled down the road to the shops, but this was no advertisers dream. Last night as the game at Eastlands kicked off, I foolishly volunteered to eat a bowl of muesli if Chelsea lost to this ‘shower of shit’. The contents of the box I had to go and purchase are now staring back at me. They look like the scrapings from the cage floors of two dozen incontinent mynah birds. At least the Guinness has added some flavour to the congealed mass.
Nevertheless that result, combined with our own defeat of Stoke City, restored the position we found ourselves in last Sunday morning. Not that such a turn of events looked likely as the team news broke yesterday and Eduardo was mysteriously absent. For the first time I can remember, and I have lived to see Tottenham beat Arsenal in a league game (really!), we fielded a goalkeeper, four defenders, and six midfielders. Not even a Carlos Vela to lead the line.
Of course the masterstroke was the selection of Andrey Arshavin ‘up top’. The little Russian needed a mental pick me up, and this appeared to provide it. In the opening half he shot narrowly wide, secured a penalty, and scored the opening goal as Stoke’s lumbering defenders failed to deal with his movement, his surprising upper body strength, and his sheer determination to lift this Arsenal side out of a mini-slump.
Typical of his ingenuity was the move that drew a reckless challenge in the area from the club-footed Delap. That boy really should stick to playing football with his hands. Sadly Cesc Fabregas failed to add pace to direction on the resulting spot-kick and Sorensen saved, having moved a tad early.
The skipper nearly made amends but again found his goalbound effort brilliantly cleared off the line. The luckless Emmanuel Eboue appeared not to move a tad early, unfortunately. As long as there was only one goal in it a sense of nervousness would prevail. Further injuries may not have helped the skittish nature of the home support.
When Tomas Rosicky failed to materialise in the second-half, Vela finally got his chance. Arshavin was still in magnificent fettle, drawing a fine save from Sorensen before seeing a rising drive deflected onto the bar by Faye, who had already prostrated himself to pay homage to his tormentor. Then came the injury that settled Stoke’s fate. Eboue limped off, and the man everybody had come to see was replaced by Aaron Ramsey.
Ten minutes from time the Welsh international gave the scoreline a realistic look, playing a one-two with Arshavin (who else) before calmly finishing with the outside of his right foot. There was still time for Armand Traore to get a knock and be replaced by Mikael Silvestre, and afterwards Arsene Wenger revealed that William Gallas, too, had suffered a hamstring problem.
Arsene summed up the game the way most others appeared to see it.
I feel we had a good first half and we should have been two or three up and then in the second half you could see that recent defeats had played on our mind because it was only 1-0 and we were a bit more restricted. But what I liked is that we didn’t give any chances away and we got the second goal that secured the win.
For those who have yet to see the game, Arsenalist has the highlights and the goals here.
The injury list, however, is taking on alarming proportions. Frankly I see no benefit in taking any of the remaining fit first-team squad players to Olympiacos on Wednesday, for what is effectively a dead rubber. Sorry, Standard Liege, but you have created your own problem, and I suspect the Arsenal youngsters will put far more serious effort into securing a result than would the senior players at this point.
Meanwhile In Barcelona
I hear that the romantic evening went well right up to the point at which Blogs passed out on the beach. Being a dead weight Mrs Blogs left him there and adjourned to the hotel, only to find him this morning, the central figure in a grotesque sand sculpture depicting an alliance of Terry Wogan and Montserrat Caballe. Out of kindness I didn’t ask which one he was.
I was also able to pass on the good news that the party appeared to come to a premature end this morning when the electricity company cut supplies to Blogger’s stately pile. SWOT teams will evacuate the estate later on this morning and the staff will then be able to go in and restore the property before the return of the holidaymakers on Monday. All is well that ends well.