By Walter Broeckx
What could have been a banana skin game turned out to be a very comfortable win. Arsenal started the game well on top and we took our early chances. Before we realised it the game was well won and we hadn’t even played 15 minutes.
Walcott started as if he was on fire and the Wolves defender Bassong brought him down when Theo was on his way to goal. Penalty and a red card was the only possible verdict. The ref did his job.
Up stepped Van Persie. As I have been following Dutch football since my childhood days (I always enjoyed the Dutch league that we could see on our TV in those long forgotten days far more than the boring Belgium league) I knew Van Persie when he was a young rebel at Feyenoord. Since then I have witnessed a young but oh so difficult but oh so talented player develop in to a world class player. If only he could have been fitter in recent years.
When he stepped up for the penalty you could see a glimpses of that young rebel. A bit cheeky at times, a real boy from the streets of Rotterdam. A Pietje Bell they would say in Holland. (A character from a very popular series of books in my youth).
And so Robin went for a Panenka-conversion of the penalty. Robin let me tell you that is not a good thing for the heart. I think a few million Gooners will have felt their hearts skip a beat before the ball ended in the net. On the 2 dimensional TV screen it looks horrible when you see it live. After the 3rd replay you can start to enjoy the beauty but believe me the first time it seems like ages before you finally see the ball touch the net.
But this is Robin. He is (rightly) so confident of himself he just does it. Didn’t score in 4 games, he is not bothered or frightened at all to do what we expect from him and that is to score. What a stylish way to end that little blip in scoring goals.
With this goal he seemed to have tied a record in scoring goals against 17 teams in the PL. Wright has also managed to do this. However for me he has scored against 18 teams. Remember his goal against City at the Oilers stadium? It was a valid goal that was ruled out at the time but should have stood. So for me he has broken the record.
And we hadn’t stopped celebrating our first goal when the second came around. A nice combination between Theo and Robin brought Theo again through on goal. This time no defender to bring him down and Theo buried the ball in the net with a low and cool finish. 2-0 up after 11 minutes and the opposition down to 10 men. The ref could have stopped the game at that point. Of course he didn’t but the outcome of this game was known at that time.
And then came a thing that I thought had disappeared from our game but still can come back at times. We suddenly took our foot of the throttle and stopped playing. It was more as if we didn’t want to score more goals at times. Did our players feel sorry for the Wolverhampton players? Are we too nice at times? I think we are. We could and should have run riot against them and killed them with a high score. They were there for the taking but for some reason we just stopped and started passing the ball around without really trying to score.
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We still had a few chances but we dropped our tempo and this made it easier for the Wolves player to keep the score at 0-2. I think Wenger was not completely happy with this attitude because at the start of the second half we put a little more goal-bound effort in our game. Resulting in a few chances.
Then came the most dreadful moment of the game that ended with a highlight for our goal keeper. Again we dropped our tempo and again we allowed Wolves to come in to the game. And when Doyle headed the ball towards goal after a rare Wolves attack most people in the stadium and at home were already swearing at how on earth did we let a 10 men Wolves side score a goal against us. Only for our amazing young goalkeeper to make a safe that was amazing. He was going to his left already in the natural move to follow the flight of the ball and when Doyle headed it in the opposite direction it takes a enormous amount of skill and power to jump the other way round. Szczesny did all that and with his outstretched arm he produced a world class save. As a former goal keeper I can but admire that save.
But it was a sign for the Arsenal players to step it up a bit and then Benayoun got the ball from Song after Van Persie spilled it first, then got it back and played it to Song. Song gave the ball to Benayoun who went for a shot that the Wolves goal keeper wasn’t expecting and the game was really over. 0-3.
A few more chances, a few not-given fouls and some penalties for Arsenal. Some players getting tired or not tracking back any more and we gave the last chance to Wolves but again Szczesny produced a stunning save to keep another clean sheet.
So here we are. In third place with 5 games to go. 5 points clear from the teams in 4th place. Next Monday we will see Wigan come to the Emirates and let us not take this lightly at all. Their performance against Chelsea should have earned them a point and their win against United should make us aware of their ability for the moment and for their fight for survival in the PL. It will not be easy, unless we focus and produce like we did against Manchester City. It will be vital to take our chances.
Who would have thought that we would be in this position way back at the end of August? Who would have thought this at the end of January? We could have hoped for it. I never lost believe in us finishing in the top 4. Not even then in those dark days. But having a gap towards the teams in 4th place of 5 points was not what I expected at this stage.
It just is more evidence that what we are seeing is a very remarkable thing. For the moment we maybe don’t realize enough what a turnaround (copyright Bob) we are witnessing. This team without the terrible injuries we had to all our full backs is a team that can fight for the title next season. Just imagine having had a fit Wilshere and Diaby to add to this group of players. And then I even will not mention all those dodgy decisions that have cost us a lot of points.
For that very small but oh so noisy Wenger out brigade I can only say that the old man once again has shown that …well he just knows more than all of us together. Now the AAA is really a very small part of the Arsenal fan base. In fact it is only 1 % of the Arsenal supporters. And I can tell this from Arsenal.com. Because in a poll they asked where we thought we would finish at the end of the season. And it went from 2nd place to sixth place. And the vast majority said we would end in third place. But 1 (one) % said we would end in sixth place. I think it is fair to say that this 1 % is the AAA. Nothing more than a marginal 1%. Those are the ones that maybe predicted us in the relegation battle in August. Sorry guys you were wrong.
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