By Walter Broeckx
Before the match when talking with Marcel, Andrew and Drew we agreed that with the results going our way the day before we should rest a few players. The general feeling was also that with nothing really to play for this could go both ways. We could play without pressure at all and make a spectacle of it. Or we could play with the handbrake on. Because as we all know there still is a bit of an important game coming up in two weeks time.
And I think it turned out the last option. You could see that the players wanted to win this match but not at all costs. It was obvious that Wenger also wanted to make sure that nothing could be said about the team selection. The only strange thing was no Ramsey. A ‘minor’ thigh injury was said. Religious or not why don’t we all go down on our knees and pray that it really is a real minor injury. And that he will be fit for the cup final. Flamini took his place in a further unchanged team.
The bench was holding the return of the injured son. I think that if the bible would be rewritten now they wouldn’t speak about the prodigal son any more but it would be the injured son. Welcome back Abou. I wouldn’t be surprised that he would start at Norwich.
The first chance of the match fell to Podolski after Giroud gave him the ball. But the ball bounced a bit too high so Poldi could only make half contact and the ball went wide. A bit alter a shot from Santi was blocked and Arsenal could take a corner. Santi being booed by the WBA fans and being applauded by they Arsenal fans. Santi made a perfect delivery and Giroud headed home. Even the WBA defender hanging on to him with all he could get around Giroud couldn’t stop the Frenchman.
Özil delivered a few amazing passes. The weight he can put on some of these balls is simply amazing. Alas it didn’t give us a second goal. And that was also because of Foster in goal for WBA made a great stop when a shot from Santi Cazorla looked to go in.
WBA didn’t create much going forward. Szczesny had to deal with a few crosses and one shot from distance that he had to punch away. The rebound from an offside position according to the linesman was missed in an awful way. But you could see that the players were more focused already on our match in 14 days. And this resulted in one team not giving it all and one team giving it all but being not good enough to produce much. One nil to the Arsenal at half time. Completely what we deserved.
At half time Robert Pires came to say a few things and they honoured a very special person. A person I have seen myself in the past. Jill Smith was honoured as she will retire next month. Jill Smith has worked a lifetime for Arsenal and was the person who was responsible for the contact with the supporters clubs from all over the world. A nice gesture from Arsenal to Jill.
And they surprised a Junior gunner who was chosen to be the mascot for the cup final match and he seemed rather pleased with that. Can’t blame him…
Back to football. The second half was the same. Arsenal keeping it slow but when we moved to a higher gear we immediately looked dangerous. Özil was given a chance by Giroud but his right foot shot missed the target as the ball just refused to calm down and kept on hobbling and wobbling.
Another chance fell to Podolski but yet again like in the first half the ball just wouldn’t bounce at the right height for him to have a real cracking shot at goal and his effort this time hit the post and then fell in the arms of Foster. Wenger then took of his Spanish armada and Kallstrom, Rosicky and Vermaelen came on.
In the last 15 minutes WBA tried to find the equaliser but Szczesny wouldn’t have anything like that. A good stop when finally WBA got a real chance was needed and he provided it. Another clean sheet was needed from our defence and they just delivered it.
It wasn’t the best match from Arsenal. But even when playing with a more important match in your head we still managed to do a professional job. WBA was really poor and this was somehow painfully shown when in the last minutes of the match a WBA players slipped when trying to run after a ball that could have been the start of a promising attack if he would have managed to keep it in play. But now his rather comic looking slip and tumble brought a big laugh from the stands.
A bit cruel for the unlucky WBA player of course but I admit I laughed about it. And I laughed even more when the supporters started singing: “Are you Gerrard in disguise?”
A job well done, another 3 points in the table and that makes it 3 points more than we had in total last year and we could add another 3 points next weekend. The sun was shining, the atmosphere was enjoyable, and some songs were really funny.
Not the best of matches but this was what can be expected when nothing really at stake. And then we had the after match festivities. But we will deal with that in the next article about our final home match of the season.
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- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal
- The Big 7 clubs, how much they spent and what good is it doing?
- What the media won’t tell you about football 5: Fifa lends money to Switzerland
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 4 – referee variations
- The final transfer rumours: 3 new names to make 66 players tipped for Arsenal
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 3 – referee home bias