There Is An Air About This Side Now

By on March 7, 2010

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Arsenal did the business yesterday, 3-1 at the Emirates. Though it could very easily have 6 or 7-1. Needing to win by four goals to go clear at the top of the table, Arsenal created more than enough chances to accomplish that feat. The only problem was that most of those chances fell to Nicklas Bendtner, who had one of the most shocking matches in terms of finishing I’ve seen in a long, long time.

It’s a bit harsh to criticize Bendtner as he took it in stride and consistently got himself into great scoring positions all afternoon. Perhaps more importantly, the crowd stayed behind him even when he came off with a thin 2-1 lead. It was a stark contrast to the reception Emmanuel Eboue received last year after a similarly tough match. It seems that this season the supporters have far more belief in the side and are more predisposed to support the team no matter what as we are only two points off the top.

The star of the afternoon was Theo Walcott. Before the match, I wrote that Theo needed to brush off the criticism he’d received midweek and not try as hard as he did against Egypt to have a “big game.” Well, he did that. He could’ve easily had four assists to add to his goal. He used his pace intelligently (take that, Waddle!) throughout the entire match and more importantly the midfield was looking for and finding him.

Theo consistently got in behind the defense and, even more encouraging, consistently delivered quality final balls into the box from wide positions. I don’t remember a better all-around performance from Theo. It was a sharp rebuke to the harsh criticisms he endured following a disappointing match in mid-week for England.

People seem to forget that he is not even 21 and his action has been limited all season due to being overworked during the summer when he played for the U-21s. As he said in his post-match interview, physically, he feels as if his season is just starting. A dangerous, pacy Theo Walcott flying down the right gives Arsenal back a dimension which they had been missing with Theo out injured for most of the season.

I’d also like to point out the performance of Samir Nasri. Having been similarly affected by injuries this season, Nasri is also beginning to hit his stride. His assist on the first goal was sublime and, after Fabregas came off, he played well down the middle. There were some tense moments when Burnley equalized, but the side grabbed the match by the scruff of the neck and Theo broke the deadlock with a smartly-taken left-footed shot just inside the box.

The return of Arshavin was equally encouraging. Today, we saw what we have been missing with Arshavin and Walcott out. If we are to make a serious challenge, we need Arshavin and Theo back to full-fitness and firing on all cylinders.

Fabregas came off with a bit of a hamstring problem, though he was already getting ready to come off when he scored the opener. Wenger says he will undergo a late fitness test before the match on Tuesday. Obviously, we will need Cesc to have our best chance at going through to the next round of the Champions League. He didn’t look particularly hurt and it appears that the substitution was more precautionary than anything. I would expect to see Cesc starting on Tuesday night.

After having most of the side away for the entire week and playing against a Burnley side that was not similarly affected by the international fixtures, we once again showed mental strength after the equalizer. The win sets us up well for the visit of Porto on Tuesday night. We have built some momentum here and need to keep it going. Getting through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League would only add to this side’s growing confidence.

The sense of confidence and belief growing within the side is almost palpable. There is an air about them when they are on the pitch in difficult circumstances during a match. You feel that they will find a way to get the job done. Now we must overcome the slight deficit against Porto and keep our march towards the League and Champions League trophies.


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  1. Ted Harwood

    March 7, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Theo was immense yesterday. His crosses were all very good, some superb.

    Poor Nick, though. It was interesting, even after his misses, everyone in the pub was still behind him, even if the phrase “doing a Bendtner” started to apply to every miss. Even when it was 1-1, everyone there felt that we would go on and win, spirits were high, which I think is testament to what you’re saying here, man.

    • Ted Harwood

      March 7, 2010 at 12:11 pm

      Well, at least in the second half.

  2. ArsenalStation

    March 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Exactly. And you could see/hear it in the crowd, even after the match was level and Bendtner was missing chances. And still with only a tenuous one-goal lead, they still clapped him off despite 4 or 5 easily-convertible chances. I think it shows a change in the supporters’ attitude towards the team when contrasted with Eboue’s treatment last season. I think the fans are starting to have the belief too, something that we didn’t have AT ALL last season.

  3. joe

    March 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    well done to the lads again. watching the game is one thing, playing out there is another. Just one observation; in the last three games we scored after the 90 minutes were up. That means that we are there till the final whistle and we need to do that to get throphies. On the porto game, it will certainly be difficult, no doubt about that, but i have faith in these guys. If cesc does not play it might actually be a bonus for us, cos if you remember the porto players were very concerned about him in the first leg( they fouled him alot} Without cesc they might be a little psychologically relaxed knowing he is not there. We need to be patient in this one and tighten our defence cos who scores first will certainly have the upper hand.

    • ArsenalStation

      March 8, 2010 at 7:52 am

      Good eye, Joe. I am confident we can go through even if Cesc doesn’t play. Nasri can slot in there just fine and we have the away goal.

  4. Daxxjoker

    March 8, 2010 at 7:09 am


    Finally ! Someone with brain speaks !
    I just simply do not know where Bendtner’s self-confidence comes from !
    This is the guy who says things like “I am the striker Arsenal need” and “More to come from me” and nonsense like that . . . and then goes out and – instead of having double hat trick – he doesn’t score at all ! Amazing !

    Anyways – we did the job that was required.We collected 3 points and can now turn to CL game.I hope Wenger doesn’t risk the captain,cause we can beat Porto without him.If he plays – i have a feeling his injury will get worse and we will lose him for 3-4 weeks,if not for more.And we can not afford that.

    And for the end – can someone tell me about this leaked pictures of our home and away kit for the next season – are they for real or not ?! They are just ugly.Horrible.

    • ArsenalStation

      March 8, 2010 at 7:29 am

      Daxx, did you just call Tony Cascarino “someone with a brain”!?!?!?!?!?!??!!??! Did you read what he wrote about Wenger and Ramsey? Or any of the other thousand anti-Arsenal articles he’s written? That man is a disgrace to the game.

      Secondly, Bendtner just had one of “those days.” Everyone has them. If he hadn’t been able to get himself into scoring position 6 or 7 times, that would far more cause for concern. On any other day, he would have had a hat-trick. We still won 3-1 despite not scoring at least 3, if not 5, sitters. Cut the kid some slack, besides what do you expect him to say in interviews, “I’m not good enough”?

  5. Daxxjoker

    March 9, 2010 at 8:33 am

    He may be a disgrace to the game,but he is 100% right about Nick.He will never be a good striker !

    If you wanna think that he had one of “those days” – you are being a fool.In that case – that’s his 100th off day of his career !
    Dude just has terrible finishing.

    Cut the kid some slack ?! Spare me,mate ! Luke Freeman is a kid – Bendnter was 4 years ago.

    And ofc I don’t expect him to say something like that.No one would say that.But you can’t have that amount of arrogance bursting out of you with no reason.He is just bad.Really bad.I don’t know why people are refusing to acknowledge that.
    I don’t want him to say he is the striker Arsenal needs,because he is not.What Arsenal need is another top class striker,to partner RVP.Or to act as a cover.
    But to know that when RVP gets injured heavily (and he will,cause he is a magnet for injuries) – our attack will come down to Lame Nick and Impotent Eduardo – that frightens me big time !

    David Villa or Torres can say something like “I am the striker Spain needs”,Rooney can say “I am the striker Manchester and England need” . . . but Nick can not say anything about him self.Only maybe – “I will try my best to improve and not be the same player when I turn 27-28″

    • jonathan

      March 10, 2010 at 2:00 am


      He may not be the best striker, but we DO need him. If Nikky wants to keep scoring hat tricks for us like he did against Porto, that is quite all right with me. You gotta learn to give people a chance, and to have some faith in our players, club, and manager.

      • Daxxjoker

        March 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

        Only reason we need him is because our only top class striker is injured,and Eduardo is impotent and is not even half the player he used to be.
        We are the only top class club with only one top class striker and no top class keeper.
        Do you imagine where would we be if we fix those things ?!

        Nick scored 2 monkey goals and a penalty.So I say – let’s get a chimp.He will do exactly what Nick does,but we wouldn’t need to pay him.

        Guy has had his chances and didn’t take them.He is not improving and won’t be improving.He is extremely limited player.The only reason he is still at the club is – Wenger doesn’t like to admit he’s made a mistake.He thinks he’s perfect.Well,ofc that’s not the case.So – he will play him,and play him,and play him . . . but Nick will always suck and blow ! I like to call him Danish Aliadiere or Tall Jeffers.

  6. Daxxjoker

    March 9, 2010 at 8:40 am

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