The Dream is Still Alive!

By on March 14, 2010

…and the march goes on. A last-gasp winner from Nicklas Bendtner removed millions of Arsenal supporters all over the world from the precipice of despair and ruin. I, personally, had spent the last 5-10 minutes of the match mentally preparing myself to accept the end of our title challenge. And then… Denilson was able to get a shot from over 35 yards on goal and with enough movement to trouble a mediocre keeper who then ridiculously made the simplest of keeping mistakes… don’t parry the ball back in front of goal. But there were a ton of talking points and controversial moments on a day when Arsenal refused to let our title dreams die.

Arsenal started very brightly with the first goal coming inside the first 15 minutes, a rare occurrence this season. A very fluid string of passes eventually led to Arshavin being able to take on two defenders into the box and produce a great finish with his laces. Hull had no handle on the match whatsoever, until the referee handed it to them.

The Offiside Penalty Dive

Let’s be honest… have you ever seen a player looking more for a penalty than Vennegoor of Hesselink? He made no attempt to play the ball, only to get directly in front of Sol and, when there was not the immediate contact he anticipated, plopped face down. He only lucked out that after he was already going down Sol gave him the slightest of contact with his raised knee from behind. On the replay, you can see that he was so much more concerned with getting in a position where he could go down than with playing the ball because his movement in front of Sol found the ball on the BACK of his neck. As Alan Shearer said on Match of the Day, a man with the ball on the back of his neck and falling down is hardly enjoying a “clear, goalscoring chance.”

So I don’t see how Phil Brown can claim Campbell should have been sent off. Especially considering that Vennegoor of Hesselink was offside to begin with. Brown is complaining about a missed call on a run of play that only materialized because of a missed call. Ironic, idiotic, or just unattractively desperate? You decide.

The Sending-Off

I also don’t see how there could be any complaints over either of Boateng’s bookings. The first came after he put his hand in Bendtner’s face twice. The second after that ridiculous tackle on Sagna. The challenge was so high and mistimed that, if it wasn’t malicious, you really have to question the player’s overall ability. The commentator said it was a “silly” challenge, but that kind of language trivializes the tackle. It was dangerous, pure and simple. Had Sagna’s leg been planted, he could have sustained serious damage to his knee. Andre Marriner let some tackles go early on and these kinds of challenges are the direct result of both the culture of the English game and that type of officiating. I am not saying it was malicious, but it was reckless.

Sol’s Tackle

Apparently, Jon Champion was claiming that Sol should have been sent off for his challenge on Zayatte. The same people whose main occupation last week was “Defender of Ryan Shawcross” and the English game are the ones complaining about Campbell’s challenge. Sol’s tackle was strong, well-timed enough to get the ball first, and perfectly fair. His feet were on the ground, his studs were down, and he was completely playing the ball. What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what everyone was saying they loved so much about the English game only a week and a half ago? The media’s double-standard against Arsenal is sometimes subtle, but, at other times, is just blatantly obvious-as this blog often points out.

Sol was caught for pace a few times, as he has been in every match so far and will be in every match to come, but he has made up for it with a combination of intelligence and experience. Yesterday, he was forced to deal with Hull’s loan-striker, Jozy Altidore. I have watched Altidore since he was 17 and the kid is fast and strong. Yet, Sol did his best and kept Altidore to only one real half-chance, which he dragged wide of goal early on. The signing of Campbell can now be seen as, if not a masterstroke, then certainly a very prescient decision by the Boss. Campbell is what we didn’t have last year when Gallas went out injured at almost the exact same time of the season. Then we were forced to play Silvestre, whose inability due to to age to be able to deal with Drogba cost us our FA Cup run last season. And while we would all rather have a fit Gallas back there with Vermaelen, the situation is not nearly as desperate as it was last season.

The Dream Continues

Somehow, we have done it again. No team has scored more goals than Arsenal in the last fifteen minutes of the match. We had a similar dynamic in 2007/08 when we snatched results in the dying moments on an almost regular basis beginning right with the very first match of the season home to Fulham. It shows a level of fitness, determination, and spirit when a team regularly snatches results from the jaw of fate. There are 8 matches remaining and we are now level on points with Chelsea, though they have a game-in-hand. United play later today and the pressure will be on them to match the results of us and Chelsea. We now face West Ham at home, who Chelsea just beat 4-1, and then Birmingham City away before the Champions League Quarterfinals. Sandwiched in between those two legs will be a visit by Wolves. Make no doubt about it, the Birmingham City match will be anything but straightforward as they have punched above their weight all season and despite a recent run of indifferent results, will be buoyed by their result against Everton yesterday.

The paths to the title and the European Cup are laid out right in front of us. We can just about see the trophies peeking out over the horizon. 13 mountains, though, stand in our way and we must climb them one at a time. We have the confidence, we have the momentum, and, most crucial of all, we have the belief.

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NOTE: Since my primary guest contributor, Ted Harwood, has accepted an offer to write an Arsenal blog for SBNation, I am looking for a new guest contributor, preferably an American Gooner, but I will consider anyone that can write well. Also, I have fixed the videos by replacing those that had been deleted from their respective host sites.


  1. Nemesis

    March 14, 2010 at 6:48 am

    The War or attrition continues. The battle is won but the war is far from over boys. Roll up your sleeves and get stuck in!

    • ArsenalStation

      March 14, 2010 at 7:00 am

      We have 10-13 battles remaining. The best thing for me, and something I will write about this week, is the change in supporters’ attitudes over the last month or so. Most of the anti-Arsene crap has stopped as everyone has now gotten behind the club as the title became a real possibility. The treatment of Bendtner when he came off against Burnley compared to Eboue’s treatment last season is good example of that. Thanks for commenting, Nemesis.

      • Kev

        March 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm

        Don’t kid yourself, the doomers & gloomers are still around just they can’t spout off any of there crap right now with how recent results have gone!

        They’re nothing but turncoats who don’t give a toss about the long term future of the club and don’t get me wrong, at times the last five years have been frustraiting but it’s been clear to see that the club has been progressing towards something big and it might just happen this season!

        To all you d&g’s, if you don’t like how the club is run, don’t like the manager, think we need to spend £40m on one player the £160k wages that go with it………


  2. GunnerX

    March 14, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Nice read mate…….the only person who had studs-up in the Sol challenge was the guy that came off worst for it, and justice was served as it was he that injured himself. No doubting what the tangoman’s instructions to his team of cloggers, though he must have though it was his lucky day when the ref gave most decisions in their favor. Lets hope they slide back to the championship where their brand of football belongs. Another 3 points well deserved points to the good guys, and next week at home with Little Mozart, A Song and our chief ( Cesc) orchestrator back in the side should all but cement our title charge.

  3. Empress

    March 14, 2010 at 8:38 am

    8 games left, not 7 buddy.

  4. Geoffrey D. Wessel

    March 14, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Hey mate, if you need a guest writer from the Americas, I’m your man.

    And Phil Brown can suck it.

  5. Daxxjoker

    March 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    You were all like “Yeah,11 games to go.Chelsea and Manchester will drop points for sure”.
    And we won’t ?! Come on.More games like this await.
    It’s gonna be messy,but you can’t lay back and wait for the trophy to come to you.

    As for CL game – I am not sure if we are allowed to be so awesome without our 2 best players.I think UEFA has some regulations about that matter.And if I am not wrong about that – we are totally screwed ! 🙂

    I would also ask nicely for people to stop using NB52 in their writings.It is pretty lame.

    Also – the thing I’ve been saying for quite a while – http://www.tribalfootball.com/arsenal-hero-merson-tells-bendtner-shut-it-699641

    Thank you,Paul.

    And finally – if someone can tell me why are all the games this weekend being played with that ugly red/white ball – that would be great.
    Greetings for all the Gooners !

  6. jonathan

    March 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I thought I was going to have a massive heart attack during the last 15 minutes of that game. I just had a feeling that we were going to pull out a late goal, just like we did against Stoke, when we did…I totally lost it! I am so proud of Arsenal for really fighting for the title. As easy as some of these last games look, we still have to be careful and play smart. Some of these “lower” teams could give us a surprise. I have total faith in the boys and the boss.

  7. Shifty cent

    March 14, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I have read on a couple of sites comments left by so called fans, slating bendtner, the man is doing a great job that many have struggled to do excatly what he has done since returning, its not excatly Van Persie like but a goal poachers approach something that has been needed for these key games. I hope he keeps up the performances and that we show our support to a striker who isnt on everybodys favourite lists but a striker proving everybody wrong. Key player for the rest of the season imo.

    • jonathan

      March 14, 2010 at 8:54 pm

      good call shifty cent!

  8. Microraptor

    March 15, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Bright Orange Wanker Seeks Job. Will Manage Shit Football Clubs.

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