The Arsenal Keeps-A-Rollin’

By on March 21, 2010

More momentum. More belief. More confidence. These were the positive results of yesterday’s 2-nil victory over West Ham. While, on paper, it may have looked like a home match against a genuine relegation candidate, we all know that derbies with West Ham have been anything but easy in the last few years.

The  match started out strangely with Arsenal scoring right out of the gates. I can think of only three goals we’ve scored in the first 10-15 minutes all season. But it was a well-worked one-two between Denilson and Bendtner to create just enough space for Denilson to perfectly place a shot low and in the corner with his laces.

The sending-off of Vermaelen was undeniably harsh from an Arsenal perspective. I wonder what role all the media noise about whether or not Campbell should’ve been sent off according to the rule of law for his challenge on Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink the other week instead of just being cautioned played in Atkinson’s decision.

In the heat of the moment, all I could think of was Vermaelen being suspended for three of our seven remaining fixtures. However, it does appear that since he was not sent-off for violent conduct that his suspension will be only one game and he will miss the Birmingham match. The obvious option is to sacrifice Song in midfield for the one match by partnering him with Sol and letting Diaby and Denilson take the midfield behind Cesc.

This is so disagreeable to many of us because yesterday was a perfect example of the growing stature of Song. His performance yesterday was efficient, energetic, and technical. What more could you ask for from a defensive midfielder. He won balls, he held the ball, he distributed it well, and he ran for most of the match. The real supporters’ test of Song’s importance to the side is to ask yourself if there is any other defensive midfielder in the Premier League that you would rather have instead of Song… Me neither.

I also wanted to comment on Diaby’s performance. I used to criticize Diaby for being all style and no substance. Yes, he had technical ability but he didn’t know how to use it in a team context. However, this season has also witnessed the emergence of Diaby into a far more mature player than I thought he could ever be. He never used to look like part of the team when he was on the pitch, but no more. He has toned down his theatrics and now uses them far more effectively because of it. His ability to control possession in midfield is outstanding and a bit reminiscent of Hleb’s ability to do the same. He has become extremely hard to dispossess in midfield and in so doing has finally become an integral part of the side.

I have to admit that I almost felt bad for Matthew Upson but even he didn’t bother to argue the penalty. Cesc stepped up, took it confidently, and added to his career-high goal tally of 15 in the league and 18 overall. There is just not enough you can say about Cesc’s form and importance this season. But his emergence as one of the most complete players in the league, if not Europe, is emblematic of the team’s overall development.

Arsene hit on it in his post-match press conference. This is simply not the same side, mentally, as last season. We are now able to grind out wins, win the matches we should win, and not just stand up to physical, bullying opponents, but match them as well. All the traits are there. Even if we don’t win the league this season, we’d have to be a fair favorite for next season’s title because this team will only get better.

It’s something I’ve been saying for two years. Some pundits thought Arsenal would drop out of the top 4 and some fans felt that we should give up on this side and even on Wenger. But even though it has been a very long wait for them to come good, I have never doubted that if we kept this team together, they would eventually bring alot of silverware to the Emirates. A team of 23 year olds can’t help but get better. And over the course of the season, and especially the last two months, we are seeing this Arsenal side burst into maturity before our very own eyes. And it is a joy to watch.


  1. Joel

    March 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Upson shut up because he should have got a yellow for a hand-ball in the box, and a second yellow it would have been.

    Song was great. Diaby was electric. Now maybe you shouldwatch Denilson play and understand what he brings to the squad, why he starts, and why Arshavin called him man of the match.

    • ArsenalStation

      March 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      It may have appeared that I was slighting Denilson by talking about Diaby and Song and not him, but, believe me, I value Denilson’s contributions… all season long. There’s only so much space and this article was way too long as it was. Thanks, Joel.

  2. jonathan

    March 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    The sending off of Vermaelen was absolutely horrible! In my opinion it really looked like Franco lost his footing and fell down. That could be just a biased opinion though. 🙂 Anyways, I was just really proud of how the rest of the team fell into their rolls and and really hammered out the win. I thought Alex song did a fantastic job in the back, and really helped control the movement forward. Hopefully we can get Gallas back soon, and lets keep our fingers crossed that Vermaelen really does only get the one match ban. Oh and by the way, I am watching the Chelsea vs Blackburn match right now and it is tied up 1-1 with ten minutes left! If Chelsea loses points in this match its gonna look so much sweeter for the gunners! Keep the Faith!

  3. jonathan

    March 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Oh and I just have to mention how well I thought Almunia did as well! That penalty save was amazing!

  4. joe

    March 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    well with chelsea drawing it is now just two points off the top spot and not three as it was before. yes , and yesterday was a tough game again and it was not easy to play 10 against 11 for a whole half. I thought denilson , song and campbell were good. United won again today and i think they have a slight psychological edge as they know that it is all in their hands now. But you never know, one bad game from them and everything can change. I think the telling point of both arsenal and united will be the champions league matches. if utd bow out of the competition to bayern, it will be more disastrous then for arsenal bowing out to barca and that might affect them in the league. I just hope that spurs win their fa cup against fulham cos that would mean that we don’t play them in the weekend after the game at the nou camp and give the players a chance to recoup. Now to birmingham for another tough game without vermalen. COME ON GUNNERS.

  5. Chris Redmond

    March 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    At the end of the season Silvestre will leave, and so might Gallas and Campbell. The very promising Djourou will be back next season – let’s hope this injury won’t set him back too much.
    I had some thoughts on the centre-back I’d like us to bring in…..Christopher Samba. I watched him today against the Chavs and he was immense, bullied Drogba for most of the game. Since he’s arrived in the Prem, I’ve always thought he was a rock-solid performer, and his huge frame, positional sense and not inconsiderable pace could prove to be extremely useful for us next season if we were to sign him. Plus he’s only 25. Thoughts…?

  6. ArsenalStation

    March 21, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Djourou is like the forgotten man this season. When talking about injuries, even long-term ones, no one mentions him yet his absence could prove to be hurtful right now.

    With Chelsea having drawn away, we are now within one match of both Chelsea and United even if Chelsea win their game-in-hand. Three teams within 2 points of each with 7 matches remaining… this is a proper title race.

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