Gunners keep in the mix with victory over Spurs

Coming into the weekend it looked like a tough one for the Gunners, could they potentially lose ground on the title contenders as they prepared for a North London derby. Man city had pulled off an impressive victory taking into account they were down to ten men after ten minutes of their game v Hull City, Chelsea were likely to follow suit and stretch their lead to a morale sapping ten points. Aston Villa had something to say about that and following a crisp finish from Fabian Delph the ball was firmly planted back into Arsenal’s court.

When opportunities come your way you have to take them, Aston Villa’s win would have all been in vein if the Gunners did not get a result at White Hart Lane. Especially given the fact that Liverpool quite impressively dismissed Manchester United in the earlier Sunday kick off. They avoided their banana skin and so the Arsenal needed to follow suit and get something from the game to shove two fingers up at the doubters that have prematurely written them out of the title race.

Whether you think Arsenal will win the league or not the additional threat from teams below the top four places provided the motivation for the Gunners to do all they can to keep them at bay. It may seem farfetched to believe Tottenham, given their past 7 days were storming towards nicking the Arsenal’s position in the top four but as the saying goes forms goes out the window in derby games. The Bale inspired teams of the past have given Spurs the belief they can get something out of games against Arsenal. Not so much the matches hosted at the Emirates but certainly games at White Hart Lane provide a threat, a defeat would have sparked the ‘squeaky bum time’ comments whilst a victory would ease the pressure somewhat. A draw would have been good for Everton who have been creeping under the radar.

So taking all that into account the silky humdinger blasted in by Tomas Rosicky in the second minute to settle the game provided a welcome result for all connected to Arsenal. Mathematically it is still possible for the current top four teams to be caught but psychologically it’s a massive blow to the chasing pack.

rosicky

The goal itself was something special, the return ball to Rosicky from Oxlade-Chamberlain may have been somewhat fortunate but the finish there was no doubts over any fortune. The connection was so sweet the ball whistled into the back of the net as sharply as a bullet. The kind of finish you would expect from Rosicky. There are certain players that produce special finishes as if it’s programmed into their DNA. It can be 50/50 whether the ball flies into row Z but when they do connect correctly there is nothing more beautiful in the game of football. Andrei Arshavin had a similar knack for the special though it was his work rate that set him apart from Rosicky.

The defence as well deserve plenty praise for their performance yesterday, they stood strong and dealt with everything thrown at them. It wasn’t easy for the back four, the early goal adjusted the game plan slightly as the team were encouraged to soak up the pressure and hit on the counter. Although comfortable in the first half it was a different prospect in the second half as the expected pressure from Spurs intensified. Adebayor was always a threat and 100% concentration was needed for the entire 90 minutes. All the hard work was almost undone by a crazy moment from Szczesny when he dropped a routine catch at the feet of Chadli but a combination of Mertesacker and Koscielny doing their best Gandalf impression ensured the ball did not pass the goal line.

At the end of the day you have to take your chances if you want something in a game. Arsenal took one of their chances while Spurs wasted their gift, the stats showed that the Gunners had one of their lowest possession stats in a Premiership game but it’s what you do with the ball that makes that stat relevant.

The visit of Chelsea is next for the Gunners, never an easy game especially against a Mourinho team but the victory yesterday should give them great confidence leading up to the game. Roll on Saturday!

Enjoy your day people.
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Wembley Awaits Arsenal, Who Will Join Them?

Wembley here we come! After the dispatching of Everton yesterday in the quarter finals of the FA cup a trip to Wembley for the semi final now looms. Opponents will be decided today after the remaining three quarter final games are played.

One major obstacle in the shape of Manchester City could stand in the Gunner’s way of a second trip to Wembley in the form of the actual final. It is the utmost importance they are avoided in the draw today. That’s not to say Arsenal are not capable of beating Man City, that is every bit possible but to meet them in the final would make for a more fitting centre piece of the competition. I mean no disrespect to the other teams in the competition, they all hold a threat and recent history is likely to inspire any of the other teams that victory is certainly possible in a one-off game. Last season cup exits to Bradford City and Blackburn Rovers, not to mention that Carling Cup shocker against Birmingham City. These are all reminders that the level of the opposition does not equate to a textbook victory for the Gunners, anything can happen on the day.

Yesterday the possibility of winning a trophy became a distinct reality; under current evaluation the FA Cup holds the best chance for a trophy after Tottenham gift wrapped Chelsea three points in the Premier League game yesterday. The Chelsea result strengthened Arsenal’s position in the top four slightly however I would be a lot more content with the club’s focus being on catching the teams in front of them rather than thinking about what is going on over their shoulder from the teams playing catch up. The team owes it to themselves as much as the fans to give it 100% on all fronts until the end of the season. Priority and focus on the FA cup can be assessed a bit more once the club know who they are playing.

The fate of Arsenals destiny ironically lays at the hands of one of their former greats as Ian Wright has been granted the honour of facilitating the semi final draw alongside his son Shaun Wright-Philips. I’m pretty sure if Wrighty pulls Charlton or Sheffield united out of the hat (or bag) he may just get a statue commissioned to keep Dennis, Tony and Thierry company around the Emirates Stadium. If he pulls out Manchester City he may need to consider disabling his twitter account for a few days.

wright

In all seriousness though it is what it is, whoever Arsenal draw in the next round they know what is required of themselves to get to the final and win that trophy. The draw today is at 4pm (GMT).

Possible opponents in the draw:

Hull City  or Sunderland
Sheffield United  or Charlton Athletic
Manchester City or Wigan Athletic

Fingers crossed.

Enjoy your day people.
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