Not exactly what happened but in reality it was what could have happened. I don’t want to focus too much on his misses and I will try to put a positive spin on this later on. But the big news is that Arsenal have won and have thrown the gauntlet right back at Chelsea and United. As I write this, United have just beaten Wolves in the late fixture to move to the top of the league with Arsenal staying just 2 points behind them.
The football club must and the players must be praised for their show of support for Aaron Ramsey prior to the start of the game. The players warmed up wearing shirts bearing the sickened Ramsey’s name which also sports “Get Well” message for the Welshman. Numerous banners were spotted around the stadium which also highlighted the fans’ support for Ramsey. Hopefully he was watching from home and is encouraged by it all.
Arsenal started like they really wanted to win the game and was ploughing at Burnley’s goal right from the get-go. After an initial storm for the first 5 minutes, it died down and play were scruffy. Burnley showed no ambition to win the game and play settled mostly in the middle of the pitch. The goal finally came when half time was nearing. Samir Nasri, who had one of his better and more influential game, chipped a delightful ball into the box for the on-rushing Fabregas, and the latter calmly slotting home between Brian Jensen’s legs. Just like the earlier fixture at Turf Moor, Fabregas scored in the first half and was substituted before the half ended. News of a suspected hamstring injury is the only major downside from the match.
The second half began with a flurry of chances to Arsenal and most notably Nicklas Bendtner. On another day, he could’ve had a 3 or more goals to his name. Like the Blackburn game last season, the big Dane could not find the back of the net, having been put through on numerous occasions by his team mates. Of all the efforts, the best and by far the easiest came when Walcott’s low cross from the right. However Bendtner contrived to shoot just wide of the goal. I’m not too worried about his misses and it was nice to see that he doesn’t let it get to him either, as he continuously got into good position inside the box. The goals will come, just not today. Even Arshavin and Eduardo missed a couple of absolute sitters.
Theo Walcott must have had a hard few days listening and reading comments of his performance for England and how low his chances are of going to South Africa. What he did today would’ve helped to increase that chance just a bit more. I’m sure most people will say that Burnley are not Argentina or Brazil, but any player will tell you that playing well in any game is a big plus point. Hopefully this boost Walcott’s confidence just a fair bit and he takes with him for the rest of the season. He was on the ball a lot and while there are still errors and wrong choices still being made, he was also efficient on other occasions. His crossings from the right could’ve given Bendtner a few goals but in the end it was not to be. Then he took it upon himself to score one. The first time he cut inside of Burnley’s left back, he scored. Curling a low shot just beyond Jensen. Thank you Chris Waddle for inspiring Theo.
Arshavin marked his return to action with the third goal but it was no more than icing on the cake. Before Walcott’s goal, Burnley managed to draw level in the game when David Nugent was left unmarked as he lofted the ball over Almunia and right into goal. Poor marking by Silvestre as he let Nugent come inside of him and spoiled a good days’ work. Goal difference could be crucial and we need to stop conceding stupid goals like these.
Porto’s game will be in a few days time and surely the major concern is on Fabregas’ hamstring. So often, Arsenal lacked creativity when he is not playing but today was not the day. Nasri reminded us of his value today and was solid all around. This would not be the best performance by Arsenal this season but in the end, the 3 points are all that matters.
Life’s good when Arsenal wins. Till tomorrow.