How Can Anyone Count This Team Out?

By on April 4, 2010

What is there to say about the match? A goal with 13 seconds left on the clock by Nicklas Bendtner secured the maximum points. Anything less and even I, the eternal Arsenal optimist, would have conceded that our title challenge was over. But, like those supporters accused of being overly optimistic, this side never gives up and always believes they can come up with a result.

Yesterday was the 9th consecutive match in which Arsenal scored a goal in the last 10 minutes. It’s also the second time in 4 League matches that Bendtner grabbed the points with a late-winner. It’s also his 3rd stoppage time goal in 6 matches. It’s also our 6th stoppage-time goal in 9 matches. In 2007/08, we scored a similar amount of late goals throughout the course of the season. How do you account for these types of heroics?

For me, I would suggest two things: belief/character and fitness. We hear Arsene Wenger and even the players mention things like “spirit” and “character” and “mental strength” in interviews all the time and I think most people begin to consider it a cliche or a standard interview line. However, there can be no denying that there is something within this club that enables them to not only get late goals but get late goals that matter.

In addition to that, when we hold a majority of the possession, it weighs on the opposition as they spend much of the match chasing the ball. If you combine that with the team’s overall level of conditioning and a few impact substitutions, you put yourself in a more favorable position to get these types of late goals.

Almost five-minutes deep into stoppage time, and following a Walcott miss and an Almunia mis-kick, most supporters probably thought it was over. Apparently, thousands of supporters at the Emirates believed it was over and decided to beat the rush. But with this side it’s never over until the whistle blows. And with our record of scoring late goals in the last 6 weeks, you’d think they would have learned by now.

As Arsene said in the post-match press conference, the match only got harder following the harsh sending-off of Henry for his challenge on Rosicky. To be fair to Andre Marriner (words you can probably never expect to see again on this blog), in real-time, it looked a bad tackle. But no one can be surprised when a red-card comes out Marriner’s pocket as he leads all referees in showing red this season. Predictably, and quite effectively, Wolves shut up shop.

Arsenal was not at their best and with Nasri on the bench getting a breather before the trip to Barcelona, Tomas Rosicky played where he used to play for Hamburg for the first time that I can remember in a long while. He did well enough directing the attack. Arsenal again focused a large part of their attack down the right side only Theo did not look like repeating his performance of Wednesday evening.

He struggled a bit with his final balls and Wenger’s analysis of that after the match made alot of sense. He said that Theo’s burst of pace isn’t necessarily over 5 yards but over 30 yards. So he said, after those runs by the time he goes to put in the cross he has already put in a huge amount of work. Wenger also pointed out how hard it is to make a final ball when you are going at that kind of pace. I don’t know if these are excuses or not, but they seem reasonable on their face. All the hoopla surrounding Theo’s place in Capello’s squad is only putting more pressure on a youngster who has missed most of the season due to injury.

We move on to Barcelona for the return leg of the Quarterfinals on Tuesday evening and I am still hopeful. Obviously, with the tie standing at 2-2, we likely will have to win at Barcelona. After everything I’ve seen in the last two months from this team, I refuse to concede anything is beyond the realm of the possibility. We may not win the League or the tie with Barcelona, but this team has given its supporters every reason to at least believe that it is possible. Keep the faith!

NOTE: Arsenal Station has started testing out using AudioBoos in conjunction with blog. Below is my AudioBoo from immediately after the Wolves match. Now, I do not have a “radio voice,” so any feedback on them is welcome as I try to figure out whether they are useful enough and enhance the blog overall.


  1. David

    April 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    ArsenalStation I have messaged before, and I was as the match yesterday, interested to get your take on Eduardo. Next season, who would you rather see as the forth-choice striker, Eduardo or Jay Simpson? People can’t dismiss Simpson as he has a bettter record in the Championship division than Bendtner – and look at the young Dane now!

  2. xtreme

    April 4, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    team aganist barca
    sagna sol vermaelen clichy
    rosicky/diaby song nasri
    walcott bendtner eduardo

  3. David

    April 4, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Eduardo is a spent force – sorry to say, and I mean that whole-heartedly! Vela deserves a chance ahead of him.

    • ArsenalStation

      April 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      I was actually planning on a doing a piece on Eduardo at the end of next week. I don’t know if I would say he’s completely spent, but with each passing week, it seems more and more unlikely he will ever regain his previous form or finishing touch. Having said that, I’m not 100% sure that it’s all down to the injury because when he came back he scored a few goals and one spectacular one at that in the FA Cup in January last year. It may be the little injuries which the big one exposed him to subsequently that have really done him in. But with Vela waiting in the wings, i think it’s Vela’s turn next season to be the number four with Simpson either going out on loan to a Premier League side next season or taking Vela’s role in the side this season. I would tend to think the loan would do him more good. If he can replicate his Championship form or something even close to it for a PL side, then I’d be even more convinced that Simpson is the real deal and Arsenal-ready. Thanks a ton for reading, David.

      • David

        April 4, 2010 at 3:06 pm

        All I would say to that is that Simpson is now 20, soon to be 21 (I may be out by a year), how much longer can he be ‘farmed out’ on loan for. The boy obviously knows where the goal so why not give him a bit-part role when the main strikers need a breather?

        It is a real shame about Eduardo, but what people overlook is that the formation does not suit him. He is too small to play in the target position of the forward three, and not tricky or fast enough to play out on the forward left position. As a result he is not effective for the team. My views are not based on his past injury.

        • ArsenalStation

          April 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

          Surely at 21, he would benefit far more by playing regularly for a Premier League side on loan than he would spending a year in the position that Vela has been in all season, no? That’s my thinking. I would think that with another year of regular football, but in the PL, Simpson would come back with a much stronger case for a bigger role, even bigger than Bendtner did when he came back from Birmingham.

          • David

            April 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm

            He would only have one year left on his contract if he again went out on loan for another season and should he prove to be useful, he would then be in a position to leave on a free after his one year back at the Grove. The boy has a work ethic which can be an asset for us next term. Sending him out on loan again gives the wrong signals to the lad – add him to the squad or sell him.

          • ArsenalStation

            April 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm

            I fully expect Arsene to offer him a new deal this summer along with Gallas and a few others. I understand your concern and Simpson is one of the youngsters we really don’t want to lose hold of at this point. I believe Wenger will protect bot Simpson’s and the club’s interests this summer and next season.

          • David

            April 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm

            I fully to see your point regarding sending him back out on loan. At the monent he is not the finished article, however I think a ‘work-in-progress’ Simpson offer more than Duda in Wenger’s preferred 4-4-3 formation.

            Speaking of contracts, Sol should be signed up for another year – think what he can teach Djourou and the Nordic boy on loan in Germany next season on the training pitch, not withstanding his capacity to still be an excellent centre-half in domestic matches!

  4. drarsenal of africa

    April 4, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    i like it…………….yr writing and reading keeeeeeep going pall,we r the gunners we r the champs

    • ArsenalStation

      April 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      I really appreciate that, dr.

  5. musher

    April 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    we need to have a goal at Barca. I would boldly use this formation.. a 4-1-3-2

    Sagna—— Sol——-TV——-Clichy

    Barca without their first choice centre backs, we could bombard them with Diaby and Bentner

    • jonathan

      April 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      I actually think that looks like a really great line-up.

  6. David

    April 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Does anyone think both Vela (he will not of course) and Walcott should start at the Camp Nou? Both have pace to burn, and would insure the Barca full-backs have to watch in behind themselves and as a consequence, it may lesson their attacking potential. Two fast wide forwards can be the key to winning at the Camp Nou, in the usual 4-3-3 formation

    • ArsenalStation

      April 4, 2010 at 8:29 pm

      I would disagree about Vela only because he hasn’t played much. If he had been getting some minutes, this would be a good opportunity to use him. I don’t think Wenger will hesitate to bring him on late along with Theo though.

  7. bronx gunner

    April 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    i think walcott should start on the bench. we need to start our strongest team but we also need to have a game changer on the bench hence walcott. vela should start in his absence. he s used to playing spanish opposition anyway.

    • Shifty cent

      April 5, 2010 at 12:28 am

      I wud play vela ahead of walcott like u, this type of game wud suit him as it wud give him a lil more time and space on the ball something which he hasnt in league. He played well against them when he was playin in spain, n his pace against alves wud assist clichy in pulling alves back to defend which is clearly not his strong point, and two centre backs who havent played much or ne time 2geva this season wud help with velas trickery n pace. Nice read up arsenal station, bout 5mins b4 bendtner scored i was writing us off the title, but the guy who i cant seem 2 praise and defend enough just keeps piling on the joy as is the rest of the team. C’mon you gunners 1 last push!!!

  8. jonathan

    April 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I am glad that we collected the points from this match, but I really would like to see the gunners really GIVE it to someone before the season is over. We were treated to a glorious 6-1 win against Everton at the start of the season. I think a real hammering like that would really get the confidence up, and would be a real pleasure for all to see. It really is a nerve racking experience for me to watch us win or draw at the last second of the match. Just once more this season I want the gunners to really destroy someone. It would be good for the team and the fans.

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  10. jonathan

    April 6, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Sad day today.

    • ArsenalStation

      April 6, 2010 at 11:12 pm

      Yes it was, jonathan. Yes, it was.

      • jonathan

        April 7, 2010 at 6:56 pm

        Lets bring on them stinkin’ spuds!