We Are Top Of The League! We Are Top Of The League!

Although God knows how. A poor performance, especially considering the ‘hype’ of the match, how the squad was pulling together although you would not expect anything less than positive noises to have emerged from London Colney following on from the events of last Saturday. Any watching Milanese spies will have seen nothing that frightened them ahead of Tuesday’s clash. It used to be the matches post Champions League ties that held the greatest fear, now it seems that those ahead are the ones to watch.

At the end of it though, we have to remember that we are still top of the table. OK, so a five point gap has once again been squandered but this is the way that the season is going for both United and Arsenal; get ahead, screw it up. Arsene commented before the game that he would rather have more points on the board but if it all comes down to the last match of the season, I am not sure that I would agree with him.

The result was about strength of character, continuing to the very last minute. The equaliser was almost identical to that which Gilberto scored last season, a cross slung from in the left, Adebayor nodded down and this time it was Bendtner who lurked on the edge of the six yard area to stab home.

It was a deserved point but no more was merited from the performance. It was disjointed at best. No-one stood out although Almunia made some good saves from Harewood and Young to keep us in the game. Villa defended in packs and broke with speed; there was a lack of imagination to break down their obdurate rearguard action.

The own goal was an unfortunate affair. It is still unclear as to what Senderos was trying to do as he neither attempted to clear nor moved his foot out of the way to avoid contact. In keeping with the week, it was simply strange. He recovered from that indicative that his confidence is stronger than previous seasons. Perhaps changes to personnel are needed to freshen matters up; Kolo Toure may return to the squad for Milan whilst Robin van Persie will be on the bench. It gives more options to Arsene in what I would expect to be 4-4-1-1 formation.

Whether Theo Walcott plays deeper remains to be seen. I thought he did reasonably well yesterday and was denied by a good early save by Carson which had it gone in, may well have changed the outcome. That is a case however of ‘ifs, buts and maybes’. Others in that category were a dreadful miss by Fabregas following a great piece of play between Sagna, Walcott and Adebayor whilst Senderos skied a chance just before Villa scored. Carson was in fine form, denying Walcott and Hleb with good saves in the second half.

Results wise, it puts the team into a bit of a rut. Questions are rightly being asked about whether or not they have the mental capacity to get out of it. Certainly that fortitude shone through to grab the equaliser but translating dominance into goals requires some attention. Arsene put it down afterwards to a ‘hangover’ from last week. Perhaps it was in the first half but whatever the case is, they need to shake the cobwebs from their heads quickly. I wonder if it was the best place to be playing at home yesterday. Perhaps the ideal would have been to have been away from home.

However, a point keeps us top with the added incentive of Wigan next weekend whilst United and Chelsea are on FA Cup duties. A win at the JJB would boost confidence but that is getting ahead of myself. There is a small matter of the San Siro to overcome first.

‘til Tomorrow.

26 thoughts on “We Are Top Of The League! We Are Top Of The League!

  1. Danny says:

    A slippery slope it seems, one where we desperately appear to be shuffling in hope of gaining a foothold but as yet have not found the traction to climb out of a worrying dip in form.

    There are positives to take, namely the one you tiltle today’s post with. We are top but we are undoubtedly struggling.

    The goals have dried up and without them on tuesday we’ll be departing a major competition.

    It is a nervy time, but as Yogi has said United and ourselves have both endured these patches this season. Every game seems bigger than the last right now and of course Tuesday could be the catalyst.

    So please please please find a stirring result in Milan and fit and lethal Van Persie.

  2. Old Timer says:

    Not sure I agree we deserved to get a point, we did have a slice of luck and maybe compensated for Brum’s late goal last week. But we did get a point and in that I am happy. Not that I am a superstitious sort of person, but why did Ade have to cut his hair? It seems since he did we have missed his scoring. It could be stated that we have never lost (when he has played from the start of a game)and on Saturday we did not lose. Yes your right I am superstitious, someone stick his hair back on. Notice when Sanga took off his beads he did not play as well?
    Lets hope we have a really good game against Milan I heard via BBC sport the following:

    Influential midfielder Clarence Seedorf is a major doubt for AC Milan after suffering a hamstring injury against Lazio on Saturday.

    Brazilian playmaker Kaka will definitely miss out through injury while fellow midfielder Emerson is a doubt.

  3. adc says:

    Well this is true test of character which critics have been raking about whole season…it has finally come….

    are we going to answer this or just end up sulking and losing all…we have tendency to screw things up pretty quickly and within few weeks our season can go for toss..

    as during 49 unbeaten games..we lost one game and started losing regularly…i hope Arsene has the answers this time around..

    for milan…the positive thing is we can only improve from here on..on negative side..morale which is most imp seem to be so down…

    it is tough now..to do turnaround..not only with regards to points but also getting the
    momentum and going back to winning ways…milan defeat will only worsen that and manutd form isnt helping either..

    its easier to let go and show of character to hold on..ofcourse some luck is required…but which route we will take…Arsene please do something..please motivate guys like no one ever has been….please dont let go so much of hardwork..

  4. Passenal says:

    Why compare to the 49 game unbeaten run? This is a completely different team and they’ve passed many a test this season. They have already achieved way past most people’s expectations and anyone would think we are the only team to have a dip in form this season. But in case some of you have forgotten, we have still only lost one game in the premiership so far and we have players to come back from injury.

    It took a lot of character to keep going and snatch that point at the end of the game when most in the crowd couldn’t see where a goal was coming from. That is how you deserve something from a game. The team may be struggling, but criticism and throwing in the towel by ‘supporters’ is hardly going to inspire them.

  5. Sam in New England says:

    I hope you are right about Senderos recovering well following the own goal. He seemed to struggle for much of the day, but did make one important clearance. The goal was the result of poor play in the midfield; Fabregas gave the ball away too often, I thought. I hope his confidence is restored with a goal against Milan.

    Thank you, Y.W., for this blog. This was a tough week for Arsenal supporters, and I sought refuge from A Cultured Left Foot throughout it. BTW, as a write this our Corgi (his name is Yogi) sleeps peacefully, his white underside facing the sky, as Juventus and Fiorentina struggle on the television screen above him. I wonder if Gallas has a dog…

  6. Edengrave says:

    Torture.
    Luckily I didn’t see the match out of fear of ruining my week-end like last time. It lessen the disappointment somewhat. The feel good factor has totally disappeared, and I really don’t care if we are top of the league as I can’t even enjoy it anymore. The table doesn’t lie, but our last couple results taking with our rival’s results don’t lie either, and really speak for themselves: we are in a very very dangerous situation. Is that Senderos second own goal this season? hard to remain positive, but that’s all I have left right now. Van Persie hopefully will play in Milan. we need Lady Luck to smile on us in march as she has scorned us in february. keep it Goonerish.

  7. Lou says:

    Come on guys! If we’re all doom and gloom, we have no chance. If we stay positive, we have no guarantees either, but there’s a chance.

    There’s a good Ade interview by the Times. Click on my name to read it. A good dose of positive attitude too. I love the Ade story and really hope he’ll go on to become an Arsenal great.

    I still feel we shouldn’t rush RvP or Kolo or Rosicky back. We simply can’t. But if, after considering so many things meticulously, Arsene is confident about putting RvP on the Milan bench, fingers and toes and everything crossed.

  8. gazzap says:

    the injuries to our first team players are really beginning to tell. I think we have ‘got away with it’ to an extent so far. we have been lucky that some players have played a blinder. Ade has done well for so much of the season but a team at the top needs 2 great strikers every game and the pressure on ade is telling. we need RVP back fit and ready. he should be back for Wigan. wigan are a decent team these days so that wont be an easy game especially after an away game in europe. any win against wigan is needed now.

    Rosicky is also badly needed. walcott and diaby are definitely big steps down in quality, and against a villa team with strength all over the pitch we really did struggle. villa did well, all credit to them, though clearly not their disgraceful fans.
    Cesc needs to find some form. just when we need to him to play well – he looks like a championship player!

    I am really going to just enjoy the Milan game for its quality. I dont feel the pressure in the CL like I do in the PL.

  9. solgooner says:

    I agree with you that we have been lucky because of our weakened squad,but how can we win a title with injury prone players like Rosicky and RVP and sub standard players in reserve like traore, Senderos and Diablt?
    Edelman comes out witt the same old BS today that we have 70 million in the bank, we all know AW likes to have a blaanced transfer budget, but I will feel choked if we lose the title just because AW d¡idnt allow for the injury prone players who have never played a full season

  10. gunner4ever says:

    Ok to sum up, the negatives are:

    1. Goals from midfield have dried up. Fab and flam threw away 2 of the best chances.
    2. Adebayor has lost his touch.
    3. Defense is looking shaky.

    and positives:

    1. Team has shown strong character in past so we shud believe they turn things around sooner than later.
    2. Injured players are about to come back. But I sincerely hope they shud be able to avoid any more injuries b4 the end of season.

    On to Milan, come on u gunners!!!

  11. vivb says:

    I thought we were worth a point. Fab had a por game Diaby looked so out of sorts, Flamini played like he did last season (contract on his mind?) and Ade returned to his impersonation of Henry. I hope it was there attempt to keep something for Tuesday.

    Walcott looked good particularly in the centre. Gilberto came on to play centre back maybe a tip for tuesday.

    Most ashaming thing was the crowd (there was a bit of trouble with the villa fans) people buggered off with 5 mins to go how depressing for the team striving for an equaliser in front of rapidly disappearing supporters who don’t believe you are goiing to score. Disgraceful!

  12. Gunner4Ever says:

    Vivb,

    I agree with the fan part, I was watching on TV and I saw the stadium almost half empty with 5 minutes to go and that is disgraceful.

    I think we need a “You’ll never walk alone” song of our own.

    Those fans should be ashamed now, knowing that their team never gave up on the game and got the equalizer in the final seconds.

    G4E

  13. aussiegunna says:

    I was at the game and while the atmosphere for the first twenty five minutes was good, it was rather ordinary as soon as we went a goal down. The small contingent of villa fan definitely the loudest!
    I thought Diaby was simply poor. I know I’ve criticised him before, but seriously he’s got terrible control and very very poor decision making. Having seen it live it looks even worse than the telly in oz!
    On the whole, the team indeed looked flat, theo in particular looked keener than keen which is pleasing to see. Definitely gonna be good to see the likes of rosicky and van persie back in the side, definitely much needed!
    Up the Arse!!!!

  14. michael says:

    Why are so many people so negative? If you look at Utd they always look good against rubbish teams like Fulham and Newcastle. Villa played quite well and have only lost twice away from home aparently. Utd have to play them again and it won’t be a walkover for them. The test will be against Utd, Liverpool and the chavs (in my opinion) and personally I think we’ll rise to the occasion. We’ll only need one goal in the san siro because Milan aren’t that prolific. Then again Maybe I’m talking crap but I’m going for the glass half full!

  15. Lou says:

    The atmostphere’s disappointing as the game went on. Right, we talked about how SOME of the Villa fans sang sickening songs about Eduardo. But just how 55,000 home fans failed to out-sing them had me scratch my head, and indeed a bit disappointed. Many Gooners and I have been asking people on various sites to get behind the team in difficult times like these. But seems like the Emirates got the name of “the most corporate stadium” for this apparent reason…

    Heard RvP might get to sit on the bench at Milan. But I’m still very wary about him and Rosicky and Kolo these days. We can’t afford any more setback in their comebacks at this critical stage of the season.

  16. Ole Gunner says:

    I’m feeling very positive actually. We’ve had our 4 games without winning but still top the league. I have to reason to expect things to last longer now that we’re getting a full squad again.

  17. michael says:

    Why did so many people leave so early? If it was 2 or 3 nil or maybe I’d understand a bit more. It’s bad enough when people leave when we’re winning. If people can’t stay till the end then it’s probably too much to ask them to sing a bit! I’m only a red member so when I get a chance to go I stay till they kick me out. This is the best blog by the way.

  18. Lou says:

    Yeah Michael I know! I’d love to take their place any day of the week. Never been able to see a match at the stadium. I’d even settle for the coming Emirates Cup, btw, in which Edelman said there could be Juventus and Real Madrid this year. I dare say it was the most exciting pre-season tournament last year and it’ll only get better.

  19. Lou says:

    Yeah, I’m positive too. Till the 93th minute, I thought to myself it’s not bad at all losing to Villa at home because they’re a strong team going back in form, while we’re off and immediately after a tragic game last week.

    And like I said here before, to come up with an equaliser in the dying seconds was what we did at the start of the season, earning draws/wins that we would have lost last season. Those kind of goals kind of died down a bit over the past 2 months but I’m glad it came back again. It takes a lot of character – cliche that Arsene keeps talking about I know, but a valid point – to come back like that in these circumstances.

    And let’s not under-estimate Bendtner’s finish. He made it look easy because Ade knocked it down well, but it was very calm finish in the middle of quite a few people trying to get the ball. This would also do the kid’s confidence a lot of good. Not that he lacks it, but he hasn’t been in the best form lately. And we need him and Theo to do a job between now and when RvP comes back. They are showing some signs that they’re making stepping up in the right direction.

    Let’s not forget ManU never proved they could hold onto the gap when they were ahead, either. We built up the lead for bad days like these, which are bound to happen, especially when we don’t have a big squad like ManU or Chelsea. I’m rather happy we did save up a good buffer in case shit happens. Now we’re using our “reserves” and that’s what they’re for.

    So yeah, let’s stay optimistic. If we come through Milan, just imagine how big a boost we’ll receive. Even if we get knocked out, we’d stay single-minded on the league then. Even though Milan’s never been beaten by any British team before, neither had Real and Inter before we beat them. I’m still fairly confident about Milan as we only need a score draw.

  20. Luke says:

    I thought Wenger go for broke tactics when the substitutes came on should be credited. Gallas joined the attack, Gilberto stayed deep as a sole centre back after Sendoros was “sacrificed”. The last 5 mins were frantic indeed.

  21. Gunner4Ever says:

    Good vision Luke, I noticed we played like 3-3-4 in the last 5 mins with Gallas and Cesc pushing forward.

  22. ETHAN_LE_GOON says:

    G4E

    1. Goals from midfield have dried up. Fab and flam threw away 2 of the best chances.
    A PROFESSIONAL TEAM SHOULDNT RELY ON THEM !
    2. Adebayor has lost his touch.
    WELL DIDNT I SEE THAT COMMING !
    3. Defense is looking shaky.
    BS ! WE HAVE ONLY LOST 1 GAME THIS SEASON
    WE WILL ALWAYS LET ONE OR 2 IN THE OBJECT IS TO SCORE MORE DOWN THE OTHER END !!

  23. Casicky says:

    Lou thanks for that article jus reading that makes me understand Ade a bit better he does frustrate me at times but somehow i do understand his weird ways.

    we are in a very precarious area at the moment its jus seems we are frefalling and it i jus cant see when it wil stop probaly when we are in second and a threat from the Chavs will probably snap us out of it.

    Ade said something that i really believe,living for now if there is a chance to go for it then go for it for the champs lge or the league,but i feel most of them in that team being young and all have started to think about how they can be better next season and thats where we going to lose the race for the title.

  24. Gooner4Life says:

    Lyk most people I was holding on by the seat of my pants during the game but Ive got to agree with the other bloggers all the Arsenal Players showed a lot of heart to fight for that point against an inspired Villa. I think the small size of our squad began to tell in that game. The guys looked leggy and this helped Villa capitalise. Diaby coming back from injury looked lost and didnt do Clichy any favours and seemed to unbalance the team.Gallas worked his socks off and Theo looked hungry having played less minutes on the park than the rest of the team.But I think the Young Gunz spirit needs to be commended and I couldnt see Man U or Chelsea fairing any better with a similar injury list. So when I read all this sh@*t about the guys not being good enuff I think are you for real. Arsenal have played the most games in Europe with the smallest squad more games than Man U, Chelsea or Tottenham for that matter and nobody gave us any hope of being were we are now. it is encouraging that a few players are coming back from injury and that will help to give our tired gooners a rest. As for Milan I think it will be a memorable night.

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