Point Made Or Rather Points Gained As Santi Proves He Has Claws


Arsenal 2 – 1 Aston Villa

1 – 0 Cazorla (6)
1 – 1 Weimann (66)
2 – 1 Cazorla (85)

The anniversary of the death of Bobby Moore reminds me of happier Arsenal times. Plough Lane, August 1988. On that balmy Summer day, Wimbledon had not just been beaten but utterly destroyed, Alan Smith grabbing a hat-trick as George Graham’s charges took their first steps on the way to their League title. I had been entirely unaware of Moore until the final whistle, absorbed by the match and enjoying the victory. We turned to queue – in an orderly manner – and my gaze fell upon the former England captain, conducting his broadcasting duties for LBC. Shock and awe has long since been misappropriated by the undesirable elements of life but that was the impact twenty-five years ago.

I stumbled across the back page of my cheque book (ask your parents kids) recently, a green scrap carrying a unique signature above one other. George Graham was equally magnanimous that day albeit surprised to find a twenty two year old lad wandering through the dressing room area unchallenged. “That was brilliant“, give or take an adjective or two, was how I described the win as he signed with a grin; the politeness of my thanks for the signature probably saving me fromejection from the inner sanctum.

Would the Premier League welcome an unimproved non-league ground into their fold now? Probably not. Did I say probably…How football has changed.

And yet it stays the same; the result was all that mattered.

Arsenal knew that the points were needed and on a biting afternoon, they delivered. It was not a smooth, cohesive performance but given recent results, that was not surprising. The imperative out of the afternoon was to keep the pressure on the Champions League places and in that sense, a draw at Eastlands this afternoon would best serve their purpose.

The home side got off to the perfect start. Cazorla and Wilshere served early notice of Arsenal’s intent but Villa did not take notice; Cazorla found space in the area and when his initial strike was blocked, the Spaniard drilled the rebound through a forest of legs, past Guzan. The visitors reborn confidence was evident as they sought a hit and run equaliser. Gabby Agbonlahor is the footballing equivalent of Kevin Rowlands – stunning in the early days with sporadic hints of glory in a meandering career – and was a thorn in Arsenal’s side for the afternoon. His rapid response to Cazorla’s opener served notice that the Premier League strugglers were not going to give up easily.

As much as the visitors pressed, Szczesny proved to be a formidable barrier, denying N’Zogbia as Villa pressed forward. All the while Arsenal were struggling to capitalise on their early advantage, passing but going nowhere, offering no threat for a significant spell in the first half. But they dug in and did not capitulate, a policy which served them well as the half drew to its close.

The storm weathered, Arsenal came back into the match. Diaby and Giroud combined to offer Walcott a sight of goal, his effort curled wide of the post. Giroud was denied followed good work from Cazorla and once more following Arteta’s shot but Arsenal were stuttering, too many languid performances in the centre of the pitch were allowing Villa to seize the initiative too often.

The visitors started brightly but Arsenal’s grip on the match tightened. Warnings were still served to the hosts but Ramsey’s introduction injected some bite into the midfield and released the mental shackles placed on his colleagues. Wilshere, Giroud and Walcott all had their chances before Villa bit back. Having denied the visitors in the first half, Szczesny’s culpability in the equaliser is undeniable. An Arsenal corner was cleared, headers exchanged in the centre of the park before Weimann advanced unchallenged, shooting from distance through the hands of Arsenal’s Polish custodian. His failure capped a horrible passage of play, the lack of defensive cover exposed with a poor goal to concede.

Arsène introduced Podolski for Jenkinson as the home side pursued the winner, pegging back the Premier League strugglers, piercing the visitors defence repeatedly. It would be easier to list those whose efforts were not denied by Guzan and his defensive cohorts. And as the clock wore down, Arsenal’s search for the winner became increasingly tense; shots peppered the visitors and as the clock ran down, Wilshere lifted a pass into the path of the ever-dependable Monreal. The Spaniard pulled the cross back into the path of the onrushing Cazorla whose shot found the back of the net with unerring accuracy, points secured.

Post-match, the manager praised the mental attitude of his charges. He has a week to work on the performance levels ahead of next weekend’s North London Derby. The pressure they will be under to achieve a result will be immense, defeat as much unthinkable for pride as next season’s Champions League aspirations.

I understand the concerns over the performance yesterday, the reticence to take the game by the throat and kill it off quickly following Cazorla’s opener. However, steadying the ship following two flaccid cup exits was more important and that required a win. Next weekend’s North London Derby will need performance levels to be improved, especially as it will be crucial to next season’s Champions League aspirations.

’til Tomorrow.


84 thoughts on “Point Made Or Rather Points Gained As Santi Proves He Has Claws

  1. Laboured is the UK English spelling, Poodle, so it’s more than o.k 😉
    (or were you taking the piss?)

    Well, haven’t posted for a while because I’ve not had much positive to say, and I’ve equally not wanted to put the boot in, but yesterday was alright by me.


    I agree with you about not buying as striker; unless a very special player comes in the summer who was out of reach in Jan(he says with both hands clasped together looking skywards)I don’t think the decision can be justified.

    However, I can’t agree with you when you say that a win was crap and uninspiring. I’m watching the game at the minute for the second time (second half is just about to start), and while we we’re shaky defensively, we played with real energy, pace and directness for throughout. Yep, it took a late goal against and a poor, but plucky Villa side to secure three points, but I don’t think you can deny we were value for the win and looked capable of scoring at any time.

    Off the ball we are still not close to good enough, and the chasm between our back four and front six seems no closer to being bridged with the current personnel: no-one is doing the job consistently properly. Arteta does a job as the holding midfielder, but a destructive, ball winning, back four protecting he aint, and nor are our other mid-fielders. The notion that we don’t need a specialist or two in this area is surely no longer up for discussion.

    Alarmingly, Villa’s goal came directly from our corner. We had been warned on several occasions about their ability to break from our own set-pieces but collectively and individually, coaching staff and players, failed to address the problem. A goal like this should should only be conceded if chasing the game in dying embers, not when a goal to the good with plenty of time still on the clock: not close to being good enough.

    So while I’m delighted by the three points and pleased by the way we attacked in order to get the points, I also feel it is a huge concern that we simply do not seem capable of seeing our weaknesses or addressing them, either in our set-up before or during the game.

  2. Good review. Apart from Santi, and the aforementioned Rambo, I thought Jenks played well after his poor showing at Sunderland. Giroud deserves more credit than he’s getting, but it’s also a pity that he failed to hit the target. By next Saturday we also need to get rid of some misunderstandings and I’m puzzled as to why Arteta didn’t take a few shots, but chose to pass instead.

    Btw, Arseblog got a very nice interview with Arteta – not your usual PR bullshit. He really had to think about some answers. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of the hair is not really explained. “It’s just my hair… and I’d rather have it than Bacary’s or Gervinho’s.” Anyway, it’s on the blog.

  3. YW

    Citeh-Chelski draw, ai? I immediately wished for a blue Mancs win when I saw they were playing each other today.

  4. MGK, and ‘all right’ is the UK spelling as well. I had that one drummed into me at school – though in the intervening years nobody else seems to remember it.

  5. If they draw, we’ll be 7 pts off 2nd and 3 off 3rd. If City wins, we’ll be back to 9 pts off 2nd, but only 2 from 3rd – although if Chelsea lose and Spuds win, we’ll be 4 from 3rd and 2 from 4th. I think I’d rather be 7 from 2nd with the others in between.

    And I’ll be hoping Chamakh can do something to the Spuds on Monday 🙂

  6. I use them differently, RK.

    It was “alright” as in it was OK, and “were my answers all right” / “things are not all right”, as in are my answers all correct, and are there any aspects that are wrong.

  7. MGK

    A draw means that City are within 6 points ahead with trips to United, Everton, Spurs and Swansea ahead. Chelsea meanwhile have still to go to United, Liverpool as well as home matches with Swansea and Everton. Second is not out of the question as Spurs have tough March and April. Depends on not losing at WHL.

  8. RK

    I just don’t see us overhauling Citeh, Chelski and the spuds.

    For me, as we are in 5th, we should want those closest to us to drop the most points. If we rise into 4th, we can worry about the next team above and so on.

    Put it this way, a Man City win wouldn’t affect our push for third or fourth, whilst a Chelski win would put a massive spanner in our hope for third.

    Citeh win for me (I think):)

  9. YW

    The problem is we haven’t shown anything close to the consistency required to capitalise on others dropping points.

    For me, I’ll be delighted to just see us rise above either sp*rs or Chelski; rising above both would be amazing. As your own points projections revealed, 4th will still be a big challenge.

    Either way, a Chelski win would be really disappointing.

  10. Oh, splitting hairs, but a draw would put Citeh 7 points clear of us.

    For Chelsea to only be 2points clear of us with their GD taking a bit of a hit in the process sounds great to me.

  11. Unless we see a miracle in Munich we only have one competition to focus on now. All the teams above us have, arguably, tougher run ins and are still in other competitions. Second place is still up for grabs. That would set us up very nicely for next season.

  12. Agbonlahor gave Jenks a good testing and I thought the youngster stood up well, Weimann an interesting player and I wonder where he might be next season ?

  13. I simply do not understand why so many people are whinging about yesterday’s game.

    I accept that I did not see the game and 5 minutes highlights on MOTD don’t really give an indication of a a game, but 24 shots, 14 on target, against 5 in total, 3 on target, and 12 corners to 3, indicate something positive.

    How many times have manure won by one goal this season, very frequently late in the game, and no one suggests that they are defective in any way.

    This is taking half empty to extremes surely.

    For those who know what I mean, have a happy Purim.

  14. MGK. ‘Alright’ is actually not a word. However, its use is increasing so it may be acceptable in the same way that ‘already’ and ‘altogether’ are accepted. If you want to say OK, you should say ‘all right’ – as in ‘are you all right?’. Sorry for pedantry!

  15. No one minds 1-0 wins,Jigsol.

    It’s the concern over the lack of consistency and the repeated failure to control games when we know that we can do that.

    That’s all. A longer term concern not any whinging over a win.

  16. I’m not too fussed about the MCFC-CFC result. There are advantages to us either way. But I really hope WHU can make a dent in the ‘amazing’ Spuds!

  17. Happy Purim Jigsol. I don’t know what it is, except that it’s a Jewish festival.

    CBob. Confidence to go in for the kill is what we seemed to lack in the first half. Is Arsène too nice? Does this impact the rest of the team?

    Why did Arteta not hit the 3-4 chances he seemed to have from within 25 yards, but go for the pass instead? Was it loss of confidence or was it simply no way through? Their (young) defenders were outstanding considering the pressure they were under. Arteta scored a few last season, but has only a penalty or two this year. He used to have no problem going for the long distance shot. I’m confused.

  18. Thinking about 1-0 wins, I still remember that 1-0 win over Manu at Old Trafford some years back, Ade scored the goal. We absolutely passed them off the park. It was a great controlled performance; such a joy to watch!!

  19. “However, its use is increasing so it may be acceptable in the same way that ‘already’ and ‘altogether’ are accepted.”

    My point exactly. I’ll carry on using it as I do. Be pedantic as you like, it doesn’t make you right 🙂

  20. Nice one YW.

    I understand Bob’s point, there’s more of a whiff of panic and then a huge sigh of relief over these one goal margins at the moment. I’m glad Santi scored a couple yesterday though (he always plays with a big sh*t eating grin on his face. I love that), and I think certain players will settle into the Premier League even more next season, which should help towards ironing out the inconsistencies. Anyway, three points was a good ‘un yesterday. Relieves at least some of the pressure that’s been building, and it was important to get three points ahead of whom ever we are playing next week.

    Enjoy your Sunday folks.

  21. Giroud’s conspicuous sliced shots and lack of ruthlessness infront of goal have covered up what was otherwise a lovely performance, he’s struggled a touch lately but deserved a goal or an assist yesterday. The best thing about him is that I know he’ll keep on keeping on, a little improvement in his composure infront of goal and he should be a 20 goal a season striker, someone who will provide good hold up play when we’re up against it and someone who can create neat openings in the box for him and his teammates, next we just need more people prepared to shoot!

  22. why is all my posts double posted ? im to stupid to figure that out too, but that must certainly be some flaw at your side Yogi?

  23. I think i prefere Ramsey over Diaby atm becuase Ramsey makes the runs from the deep. he may not score but he always put himself in very good positions. the day him and WIlshere open their acounts they will be very dangerous indeed.
    All ramsey really has to do is to capitalize on all his good movement. Kinda the same as Giroud although Giroud can be more frustrating to watch as he is always in good positions but somehow manages to not score 🙁
    Ones he sorts that out he will be one of the best. expecting that to happen next season.

    J. Cross keeps saying Podolski is lazy. Is he? I ask cos i am not sure…

  24. @jjgsol well we won so the only thing left to whine about then is the preformance. gone is the ” win at all cost” ” all that matters is the win, not how we win” mentality.

    Gone is the ” united play shit and win why cant w e do that?”. Or the “i dont care if we are entertaining or fragile, i only want 3 points”.

    I guess arsenal supporters will always want what they cant have, now that we have a team that can win even when they look fragile, that has just lost its appeal….

  25. That’s just not right, poodle.

    We can certainly have a team that wins when it’s not at it’s best. That’s good

    If we look fragile, that’s a different thing all together.

  26. Not really into stats. but read on BBC sport that Santi is the first player to score 10 or more league goals in his debut season since TH14. Bodes well for him and us.

  27. After the previous two games it was only natural that the side would be inhibited , even with that early goal.

    We should therefore just be thankful for the win & not get ahead of ourselves in looking at second or third.

    Santi certainly has an eye for goal. It`s something I wish some our our other midfield players should do a little more of. If you don`t shoot , you don`t score.

  28. Ramsey before Diaby at the moment because Diaby is playing with the brake on. That said hope the pooor man is not seriously injured…

  29. Poodle, if we play our “fragile game” in the next 2 matches, chances are we will lose, ‘cos our next 2 opponents have the quality to take advantage of our “fragility.” Let us hope that this win will act as a confidence booster for our team.

  30. Personally I thought Abou was great yesterday till he went off and Rambo was when he came on as well, glad to report a positive atmosphere among the gooners at the stadium yesterday and the team responded,a couple of them young villa players also looked promising-I don’t think they’ll go down.

  31. Red Kangaroo. Purim is what we call a minor festival, when we celebrate a redemption of the Jewish people from a threat of extinction in Babylon. It is a very happy time, and, if you live in an are which has an Orthodox Jewish ciommunity, you might think that we have lost our senses. A lot of people go around in fancy dress and the atmosphere is one of supreme joy.

    Winning yesterday certainly helped those of us and there are a lot, who are Arsenal fans.

  32. A Blue Mancs-Blue Chavs draw would be good for us, I think.

    Had a quick look at the table, and I don’t understand how Sir Ferg does it, I really don’t:

    Red Mancs W = 22; F = 64; A = 31; GD = 33; Points = 68 against
    ArsèneAll W = 13; F = 52; A = 30; GD = 22; Points = 47

    That is, the Red Manc 21-point advantage is based on them scoring just 12 more goals than us, for a GD of 11. What the actual? How does 12 goals translate into 21 points?

    Bizarre, not to say unjust.

    But I fully expect José’s minions to tonk them in the CL return leg – which would go some way towards assuaging the pain at this point.

  33. MGK – Had a peek at that site; it’s AMERICAN!! As a TEFL teacher I strongly disagree with American English and ruthesly suppress it in my students. If anybody said:”You ate the cookies already”, well, quite frankly, it’s just not on.

  34. Joe Hart has just saved a Chels pen (that to be fair, he gave away).

    I’m with the “I hope Chels get hammered” camp!


    The reason their goal difference is more productive is that we pile up goals in games already won. Just think: 6 1-0 wins is 18 points whereas one 6-0 wine and 5 x 0-0 draws is 8 points!

  35. Hi C’Bob,

    You asked yesterday about the “Anchors Aweigh” song.

    My father taught it me in – I think 1971 – when the team were looking for a new song (again). I think they came up with “Good Ol’ Arsenal, I’m proud to say that name – which I remember singing (ok – screaming) that year at WHL when Ray Kennedy scored…..

    Anyway, my father is no longer alive but my mother says the Metropolitan Policwe Band, who used to “entertain” the crowd at half time, would play the tune in the fifties and early sixties – though she thought the song was older…

  36. Ponyboy
    February 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Firstly, what a horrible phrase, and secondly, Of course they’d be wrong-they should be saying biscuits, not cookies;)

    But seriously, American the site may be, but it makes clear references to the differences between AM and UK English, so I don’t see that as being at the heart of the debate. In fact, it is the rising use of “alright” in UK English that is adding to the merits of its use.

    The discussion is basically whether you can substitute “OK”/”satisfactory” with “alright”, especially if trying to avoid confusion. For exmple

    “‘The figures are all right.’ When you use ‘all right’ as two words, the sentence means ‘the figures are all accurate.’ When you write ‘The figures are alright,’ with ‘alright’ as one word … the sentence means ‘the figures are satisfactory.'”

    More importantly, Citeh are 1-0 up against Cheslki, which is all right by me!!;)

  37. Tevez makes it 2-0 Citeh

    I think that is good for us.

    They’re only 2 points and 2 goals (goal difference) better off than us now.


  38. 2 points beheind the 3-rd.

    Game on.

    Having said that, our run in is tougher than it looks. In many corresponding fixtures we dropped points last season.

    The away games against mid table teams will decide our finishing position in the league.

  39. I have seem some shocking things in the many years I have watched football – a ginger Fernando Torres brought the game to a new low – the FA must act immediately

  40. I know, Lemons, I know. Still doesn’t make it feel any better.

    Because 12 goals, 12 GOALS – that’s all that separates us!

    But now we are encroaching on the Chavs. Let’s hope steady, not to say stealthy, does it.

  41. Interesting, HLT. thank you. I still don’ t remember it though and my Dad’s gone too!

    ‘Good old Arsenal’ came about as a competition on, I think, ‘The Big Match’. Jimmy Hill came up with it. Never liked it much myself.

  42. Asto football, it’s more or less in our hands now.

    Consistency will get us to the CL and all that means.

  43. Well, it’s safe to say we’re not as fucked as everyone has been claiming eh? 2 points off the Chavs has me believing we’re gonna top them again this year. Can’t wait til we show that diving prick Bale who’s really running London.

    February 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Great point.

    12 goals could equate to to 36 points if entirely comprised of 1-0 victories.

    Just think, we’ve managed to grab 9 points with just 4 goals in our last 3 games!

  45. Never thought I’d be wanting Big Sam to do us a favour… Sort of shows the relative decline I suppose. Still whatever, the important thing will be to win at WHL and the psychological swing of that would probably carry us to the CL…

    Starting to look forward to and dread it already….

  46. MGK/ CBob – It’s a losing battle; the Americans have won,and that’s alright with me really. I could care less! (Ugh) Some things are hopeless to fight against, such as ‘The birds and the bees’ [Birds and BEASTS please, folks – bees don’t have an awful lot of sex!] Somewhat ironically, the Americans are keeping alive things which the English are losing, especially in the weights and measures.
    As for the football, the Chavs are still in two cup competitions, which will hopefully keep them occupied while we sneak past in the next month. Not often that anyone here wants a West Ham win, but that would make things fun.

  47. I hope Rafa as always does what is the best for his CV, i.e. goes for the trophies in the Europa League and FA Cup thus neglecting the league.

    A nice chap as he is, isn’t he?

    If they win both but finish the league below us, nobody will complain here.

  48. Do I hear the faint rippling of revolt at the Bridge ? “He’s outstayed his welcome” and they don’t mean the FSW

  49. Bit silly to get cocky because Chelsea lost today. It’s all about consistency now and we’ve shown absolutely none since the start of the season so to be overly confident is asking for eggs on your face. One thing it does show though is that the ‘crisis’ at this ‘shambles of a club’ may have been exaggerated by some fans and some media outlets. We’re not in the best shape but we have a realistic chance of finishing 3rd for the 2nd season in a row, above Chelsea again who have spent quite a bit more than us in that time.

    Imagine what we could do if we bought a few world class players…

  50. This was the best result for us. YW, you were rooting for a draw but it helps us more to gain an advantage for 3rd place as there is little benefit between 2nd and 3rd and now we have only two teams a handful of points ahead of us. Since we don’t play Chelsea again, we need them to drop points on their own. Now it is vital that we seize the opportunity that the NLD offers.

  51. It wasn’t that Chelsea lost, it was the way they lost. It was the reaction of the players to being subsistuted, it was the looking around at one another with the “it’s happening again” expression followed by the shrug.

    And Torres’ ginger ensemble obviously

  52. We will be fine.soccer is so unpredictable.sometimes we just need luck and not skill. Manure to be leaders doesnt mean they are always fantastic.championships are won by 3points not by how good were you.let us be happy with three points and move on.SPUDS here we come.is BALE really normal? Spuds better than Arsenal my foot.why cant he just concentrate at things that he is better at.just kicking a round ball and shut his trap.

  53. It would be nice if Chelski start to implode under fan and player revolts wreaking havoc on morale and, thus, results.

    Ideally Arsenal gets 3rd and Everton makes a late charge over collapsing Spuds and Chelsea for 4th. We can dream…

  54. Don’t see us needing any red card to smack the Spuds.
    I want the game played with both sides @ full compliment.
    We need to give Bale a blatant reason to move to Madrid.

  55. Agree with that, PV but well done to Bradford too.

    Magnificent achievement to get there. Good to see football win.

  56. This was a great win for us . this coupled with Everton’s and Chelsea loss we have a real shot at third place. All we need is Tottenham to lose on Monday. look it was a close one . Thank God for Santi’s daily double. We almost didn’t get the “W’. check out bobby gee word press

  57. Missed the game on Sat had to go to Belfast. Get the impression from this site and arseblog (my 2 most trusted sources) that while we deserved to win, we didn’t play particularly well. Still work to be done (where have I heard that before?) just hope after today’s results which I believe we’re good for us, lets hope Mr Chamack and WH can do an even greater favour tomoRrow nite.

  58. ” confidence is our best friend, and lack of confidence Is our worst enemy. Both of them are very fragile”
    I don’t understand why Wenger would say such a thing. If i am an opposing manager or player I would be grateful for the heads up on the fragile mental state of our players.

  59. PV, we don’t need it but it would still be very nice if it happened. I would certainly enjoy his latest humiliation at the hands of the Gunners.

  60. JJGSOL
    happy PURIM to you and yours. I think you meant redemption of Persian Jews not Babylon. Too bad the game this Sunday ended up 2-0 to the blue mancs. Makes our run on 2nd place a bit more difficult. But I think and believe it can still be done. Stating with a proper dismantling of the spudniks in our next game. Now that rvp is out with a dislocated tushy butt manure will drop points and we can already see chelski and the blue mancs are prone to dropping points here and there. That leaves totteringham and we need to take care of business next week. A good thumping will jump start their annual falling apart in front of their own fans. Two months left in the season but for me the team has to approach every game as a must win to have a chance at 2nd. And hope lady luck smiles our way a bit. Over all a righteous weekend this was and hope it continues on the same pattern.
    UP. THE RED&WHITE!!!!!!!
    PURPLE REIGN !!!!!!!!!!!

  61. @Phil, I’ll tell you why Wenger comes up with ludicrous quotes like the “confidence” garbage that came spewing out at his last press conference. It’s because the old man has completely lost his marbles and is certainly in no fit state to be making every major decision made by the 6th biggest football club on this planet.

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