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The mountain of injuries besetting Arsenal at the moment meant that Wenger had to put out what is considered to be his second best side out to face Wolverhampton yesterday. As it normally is when non regular players are put together, there is no real pattern of play and definitely lack of understandings. All things considered, it was vital for us to keep going at it and at the end, it was not the performance but the 3 points that mattered.
As it stands with Chelsea victorious at Old Trafford, we are 3 points behind them and only a point separates us and United with 5 more games left to play. Taking into account Chelsea’s massive goal difference advantage, we can be considered to be 4 points behind them. We can only keep going and keep winning games and hope for the best. We need not 1 but 2 teams above us to drop points in at least 2 games to even have a remote chance of winning the league.
Surprisingly, Silvestre gets to start the game not at centreback but at leftback with Clichy given some time off to recharge his batteries for the second meeting with Messi on Tuesday. Campbell came in at centreback while numerous changes peppered all over midfield and in attack. Eduardo, Eboue, Rosicky and Walcott all gets a start but it’s safe to say that we did not get the best out of them yesterday.
If our game plan for Barcelona is to depend on Theo Walcott, then judging from this game alone, our hopes for qualification to the next phase of the Champions League are in tatters already. While on one hand I do not want to be too critical of the bearer of the number 14 shirt, his performance yesterday left a lot to be desired. I think it would be fair to say that the team depended a lot on him getting down on the right hand channel and most of our play were concentrated on that part of the pitch. Which also meant that Walcott had a lot of the ball. Unfortunately, the good decision making, whether it is a pass or a cross or a shot, still eludes him.
Time and again, he found space on the right hand side but his crosses were either blocked or too far for those waiting in the box or too fast for the on-rushing players from midfield. It really is worrying to see him play like this. It’s almost like his growth in a general footballing sense have stunted ever since we saw his make his debut against Aston Villa 4 years ago. I know he was the difference when we managed to come back against Barcelona but his showing today was just appalling. Sad to say, the bad days are getting more and more compared to the good ones.
Another man who has looked a pale shadow of his former self is Eduardo. I thought that with 6 months of playing time, this would have been then season to kick-start his career once again. A chance to return to his predatory best that he was prior to the leg break. My hope seemed to far-fetched now. His confidence in front of goal has been completely shattered. He had two chances to break his goal drought but he wasted both of them. Once in each half, he was presented with on his favoured left foot, almost from the penalty spot. Both times, he miscued his shot and sent both wide with Wolves keeper already stucked to the ground.
At the end, Wenger had no choice but to throw on Bendtner and Nasri into the fray. If we had the lead, Wenger would have no doubt, wanted neither of them on the field. However, things doesn’t always go our way. Bendtner got the goal at the death but it was the introduction of Nasri which sparked some life into our attacks. Life that was not there even though Wolves had to play the final 20 minutes with 10 men.
Goals were at a premium at the Grove yesterday but it is still 3 points nonetheless. Which is already a marked improvement from the many scoreless draws that we got last season at home. The attention now turns back to the second leg at Nou Camp. On this performance, Barca would walk all over us again. Time to hit the training ground once again.
Till tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed the win.