One Point Gained or Two Points Dropped?

By on January 10, 2010

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With Chelsea’s eminently winnable match with Hull City canceled, along with six other Premier League matches on Saturday, our match against Everton, in the driving snow, effectively, became our infamous and long-awaited “game-in-hand.” Yesterday’s match was another reminder why teams with games-in-hand should never just count them as three points.

Of course, there are two points-of-view available to the distraught Arsenal supporter following yesterday’s type of match, and which one you choose probably defines your overall world-view of being an Arsenal supporter. For one, you can go up to the roof of your home or apartment building and stand on the ledge, poised to jump, screaming, “We dropped two points at home to the 12th-placed side!”

Or you can consider that on a day when Arsenal weren’t even at their half-best, were missing key players through injuries, and, despite all the pundits’ talk of Arsenal’s inability to play in bad weather, were playing a match in a damn blizzard that sent all but two of the rest of the league’s clubs running like little bitches. I, as regular readers might guess, have chosen the latter. (You can choose in the poll on the right sidebar.)

Arsenal were so committed in the final 20 minutes to going for the win, that somehow Steven Piennar slipped in behind the defense and chipped Almunia in a one-on-one with the keeper. But, while Everton were celebrating in the 81st minute as if they had won the game, Arsenal were steeling themselves for a final 10-minute blitzkrieg on Everton’s 11-man defense, finally breaking through after a deft pass from Diaby allowed Rosicky to use the outside of his boot to put a shot on goal that deflected in.

For me, it’s hard to judge a match played in the kind of adverse weather we had at the Emirates yesterday. But, I felt like Diaby had regressed and we were seeing a bit more of the “old Diaby,” holding onto the ball too long and losing it and making bad passing decisions in the middle of the pitch and in the final third. His performance was only redeemed by his assist on the leveler. Still, with no Fabregas or Song in the midfield, we can hardly afford for Diaby to revert back to his former, frustrating self.

Denilson also struggled with keeping the ball at times. Though it was a tough situation to be playing in that type of conditions without your two midfield leaders, and, credit to Everton, they near-perfectly executed what has become the standard gameplan against Arsenal, which is to try to smother them when they’re on the ball. Still, it was Denilson’s fight for a 50-50 and his propensity for shooting from outside of the box that drew Arsenal level after Osman’s opener.

Whether or not Piennar was onside when he took the pass for the second goal is still a doubt in my mind. But, Arsenal didn’t hang their heads and concede defeat. They fought back and created enough chances in the final 10+ minutes to earn a victory. Rosicky’s play, following an awkward few minutes needed to settle into the match and weather, was highly encouraging, especially after signing a new contract.

Denilson’s being carried off on a stretcher after a rib injury sent him down in a manner reminiscent of Wayne Rooney-in-the-box is a bit worrying, but we will likely have to wait until Monday or Tuesday before the Boss has more information on him.

All in all, it is disappointing to only get one point from the game-in-hand, but, to win titles, you have to be able to get some kind of result on days when you are struggling for form and, also, playing in less-than-ideal weather conditions. On Saturday, Arsenal did both and it brought them to within three points of the leaders and two points within United in second place but still holding their game-in-hand on the Manchester side, that just barely escaped with a somewhat undeserved point against the Premier League’s most-improved side, Birmingham City.

And, despite the disappointment, a three-point deficit in the second week of January means the league is very winnable yet for the Arsenal. With Bendtner, Fabregas, and Clichy due to return within the next two weeks, Arsenal will be getting back somewhat closer to their true starting XI.


  1. Ted Harwood

    January 10, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Unfortunately, Pienaar was definitely onside for the second goal, as he was well inside his own half when the ball was played. I can’t decide if this makes the goal even worse in my mind, because we allowed a guy to run onto a pass behind our defenders in his OWN HALF.

    At any rate, I was so relieved when Tommy put in the second, because I was in a room full of Everton supporters, and I was starting to lose my mind. They were pounding on the bar and so filled with a buoyant joy… exactly how I would have been. If Tommy can stay healthy, though, I feel fine about our midfield. I really think Nasri played well yesterday, he stood out for me, and with he and Diaby and Tommy back there, plus Ramsey and maybe Wilshere or Merida, I think we can hold out until Cesc and Song return.

    I’m not too worried about being 3 points back at the moment; our goal difference is superior, and as you mention, Man Poo dropped points yesterday too.

    • ArsenalStation

      January 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm

      If you look back at the footage, you can see Gallas and Vermaelen in the box. How does Samir Nasri end up being the only one chasing him? The first goal was disappointing as Gallas let Osman get in front of him far too easily. He made the cardinal mistake of defending set-pieces, which is to not attack the ball and wait for it to come to you.

      I’ll be honest, I’ve been wishing they would cancel the ACN so Song can come home. Without Cesc and Song, it’s impossible to be at our best and we struggled in midfield for most of the match.

      On January 10, 1998, we were 12 points off the top (49-37). So being three points with the two above us looking less-than-invincible at the moment is pretty good.

  2. spit yo game

    January 10, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    one gained or two dropped never mind that,more like the league title is dead n buried for us…

    • ArsenalStation

      January 10, 2010 at 1:01 pm

      We just gained points on Chelsea and cut the lead to three points with 18 matches remaining. Are you serious? So I guess you won’t bother watching any of the second half of the season since it’s “dead n buried for us.”

  3. gooner 82

    January 10, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    if the ? was asked before the game it would be deffinetly 2 points dropped but on the 80th min any arsenal fan would of took a point so i say point won

  4. GunnerX

    January 10, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    2 points dropped, as we had a better 2nd half in which there were enough chances to have won. I felt the ref was truly awful,from where I was sat it appeared that we were denied 2 clear penalty appeals. Fellani played a big part in their game, committing foul after foul which went unchecked, though he definitely got the better of Denilson. I just wish we could show the same level of urgency that we show when we go a goal behind in the early stages of a game.

  5. bkj02

    January 10, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Agree with the post apart from….

    Diaby had regressed and we were seeing a bit more of the “old Diaby,”

    Diaby is a central attacking midfielder. He is at his best when he picks up the ball around the centre circle and drives forward.

    I get the feeling without Song he’s been told he can’t commit forward as much as he wants. As soon as you see Gallas or TV join an attacking move Song immediately drops back without even thinking. Diaby’s natural thought is to get up alongside them

    I was watching him and felt he was asked to play more defensively. I saw him pick up the ball and on the few occasions he had a little bit of space he instinctively tried to burst forward like he does, to suddenly stop, lay the ball off and trot back just as he remembered he couldn’t go too far forward.

    Song cannot get back quick enough from the ACN for me.

  6. cootas

    January 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    can’t annihilate every team we play, its nearly as satisfying to grind out a result as it is to kick the crap out of teams sometimes

    • ArsenalStation

      January 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm

      That is kind of my point. We can’t always win 3-nil or 6-2 but getting the draw under the conditions they did just reaffirms belief in the character and spirit of the team. Losing the match would have hurt the team’s overall confidence, but coming up with a late goal in that weather for the draw, while not building our confidence up, at least lets us keep the momentum and confidence we had going into the match.

  7. spit yo game

    January 10, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    When you grind out a result it generally means to play shit and win,not draw

    • ArsenalStation

      January 10, 2010 at 3:45 pm

      That’s not necessarily always the case. To come from behind in the final ten minutes in a blizzard sure seems like grinding out a result to me. It was a game-in-hand and so we actually did make up ground on Chelsea even if it was only one point instead of three.

  8. will golden

    January 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    each match is a team game, but every season is a squad game! U R only as strong as yo weakest team. If we don’t win our home games we kiss the plate goodbye!

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