Saturday, November 19, 2011

Everything remains the same, Robin scores, Arsenal wins

I must admit that it was the most hellish Interlull I've endured in recent times. It almost felt like the summer break. But as they say, patience is always rewarded and it was indeed by Arsenal. After being away for two weeks, it was expected that there will be lack of coordination in the team but there was no dearth of attacking intent. Robin could have scored as early as the first minute when he scoffed a chance from Theo's cross. Norwich City has been lauded by critics for their desire to play football and it was evident on the pitch yesterday. The game was open from the word go and before Norwich scored, Arsenal was murdering them. If it wasn't for Russell Martin's positional sense, Arsenal would have been 2-3 goals up in the first quarter of the match. His acrobatic clearance off the line from Theo's shot was some top class defending. But when Gervinho missed a one-on-one with Ruddy, I started to get a bad feeling that all the missed chances would come back to bite us in the arse. Steve Morison confirmed it when he caught our "big friendly German" (too friendly this time) off guard and muscled him off the ball to score Norwich's only goal of the game.

But given the form Robin is in, there was no doubt that we'll soon equalize. It was once again Theo-Robin combination which provided the much needed relief for Arsenal. Norwich's left-back had a torrid time against Theo and when Theo went past him the nth time, he produced a peach of a cross which Robin coolly tapped in. He saved Gervinho the blushes after the Ivorian had tried and missed with a fancy back heel on that cross. After the goal we dropped our game which made Arsene give his steely eyed stare at the HT. In the second half, it was more the same but with a much more composed central defense. Vermalean and Mertesacker were confident in their clearance whenever Norwich tried the aerial trickery. Except for Santos, our defense looked calm and solid. Song and Arteta who kept giving away the ball in the first half, also checked their enthusiasm and provided a better second half performance. Santos should be thankful to Song because he always covered him whenever he forgot to track back from his sorties. Our second goal came courtesy of a half-foul on Ramsey when Song collected the spillover and sprayed the ball for Robin who controlled it delightfully and chipped it past the onrushing goalkeeper. The goal could be used a lesson in the finishing school of the strikers. In a desperate attempt to come back on level terms, Norwich deployed Grant Holt. The "forward" used his shambolic free-kick winning skills to rob us off two points, but our solid defense kept him in control till the end.

Theo produced a consistent performance which will silence his critics. He was a constant thorn in Norwich's left side, out-sprinted their fullback many times and produced quality crosses. He deserved a goal but was denied twice, first by Martin and the other time by the crossbar. Gervinho had an off day at the office and if he had worn his scoring boots, the scoreline would have looked different. Robin now has 31 goals and need just 6 more to break Shearer's record of the most premier league goals in a calendar year. It's all good when Robin is scoring for us, but right now we're over-reliant on him and others should step-up to share the scoring responsibilities. Unbeaten in last five premier league games, we're carrying some serious momentum. If we can continue this form till New Year, we will be there in the top three. Let's keep it rolling and keep cheering for the Gunners. 

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