It was the 7th consecutive win on the trot for Arsenal Football Club since the double losses to both Manchester clubs. It was not the best of performance from the boys. Exciting and seemed to be cruising, then almost immediately allowed Birmingham back into the game until the 3rd goal arrived.
Arsenal started off the blocks better and faster than Birmingham and was 2 nil up in a space of 3 minutes. First Robin Van Persie absolutely slammed the ball home almost from the edge of the box that gave Joe Hart no chance. The pace of the finishing was fantastic. After a slow start, the Dutchman has now scored a goal each in the last 4 games that he played. Then almost immediately, a quick move on the right saw Rosicky slipping Eboue free inside the box and the Ivorian’s cut-back was perfect for Abou Diaby to side-foot it into the roof of the net.
Lee Probert must have still hold a grudge against Arsenal and maybe more importantly towards Arsene Wenger as he was involve in what I thought was 2 controversial moments. First, Theo Walcott was scythed down by Liam Ridgewell which drew neither a card nor a whistle from the referee. Sadly, due to this Walcott only lasted only 30 odd minutes in what was his first start for Arsenal this season. Then secondly (of which I was more angry) Probert decided that ex-Gunner, Sebastian Larsson did not impede Vito Mannone in the latter’s effort to catch the ball and Lee Bowyer dully slammed the ball in. How was that not a foul? Mannone clearly had the ball in both hands when Larsson made contact with him. The Italian deserved the clean sheet having reacted well later on in the second half when he denied 2 Birmingham players from an easy tap-in.
From then on, play was slightly more balanced although the Midland club had no threatening shots on goal. In a match like this, it goes to highlight the work that Alex Song does for Arsenal. Reminiscent of how Gilberto Silva once operate, Song excel again in today’s match. Reading the game well and making decisive interception and marking spaces. What I like best is the way how he uses the ball and movement of opposition. Just like Patrick Vieira before him, Song has neither the skill or speed to go past players. But what both of them have in common is the ability to understand and know where the opposition is going and using the flight of the ball and slight shift of the body, are able to wiggle out of situation where there are 2 or more opposition players surrounding him. Song is surely now one of the first players on the team sheet if fit.
However one more goal was needed to clinch the match and calmed the nerves of the home crowd. Andrey Arshavin dully obliged. Fresh from scoring for Russia in midweek, he got at the end of Cesc Fabregas’ pass and simply pass the ball into the net. The accuracy of his shot was scary. The move started as Mannone decided to come for a cross and quickly released Fabregas with majority of Birmingham players already at Arsenal’s penalty box. That set up the counter attack of which Fabregas had the option of Van Persie on his right and Arshavin on the left against just 2 of Birmingham’s defenders.
You can catch Wenger’s response here.
So the winning run continues. Only bad news from this match is the injury suffered by Walcott. 100% record at Ashburton Grove continues. AZ Alkmaar may not be so enthusiastic to visit the Grove now seeing the form that Arsenal are currently in.