If someone told me at the start of the season that Arsenal are going to keep the title hopes alive by a string of injury time goals I’d have laughed them off. At that time I felt this young team will either gel together and brush the opponents aside or we will struggle to get the results.
I don’t mean to be critical. It’s a pleasant surprise that this team can keep on going when nothing seems to be going our way.
For most parts this game looked like a one-sided affair where we had everything except the final touch. On occasions when we did get the shot on target, Hahnemann stood tall. Perhaps, a close friend of mine is right in calling him Hanuman!
Such was our dominance that on another day with 25 shots on goal and 9 on target we could have scored 3 or 4. Wolves, as expected, worked hard but offered little else. Stats show the visitors had 5 shots on goal and 2 on target. 4 of those were from 25 yards or more!
Critics will question our finishing abilities and I think Arsene will certainly have a look at that after the Barca game. Right from the early minutes we opened them up with ease. Walcott was red hot on the right even though his end product wasn’t as consistent as we’d like. Eduard had a couple of chances, one drawing a good save and the other ending up in embarrassment as he fluffed it with his chocolate leg!
Sagna had the best chance of the game when he burst through and Walcott fed him with a perfectly timed ball. The full back went for power instead of placement and Hahnemann somehow kept it out with his feet. Then Walcott showed impeccable technique with his left foot as he smashed one towards goal. Once again Hanuman held on. Arsenal launched attack after attack but this looked like just one of those days.
Wolves were generally fair in their tackling but Henry decided he’d had enough of Theo’s dazzling skills. The Wolves midfielder caught the youngster with his studs and left an impression when he could easily have pulled out. He should have been sent off right then and perhaps Mariner took the incident into consideration when he did flash a red for a reckless tackle on Rosicky in the second half. You could clearly see blood gushing out from a gash in the Czech star’s calf. McCarthy can moan all he wants but for once the Ref got it right.
As the game went on you could sense the mood at the Emirates change. Wenger brought on his game changers. Bendtner came in for Eboue, Nasri for Song and finally Vela for Eduardo. All of them brought something to the game but the breakthrough was elusive.
Five minutes were added on and I thought here comes another 93rd minute winner. We kept crossing the ball but never got near the target. Would this be the day when our spirit finally concedes defeat? I had my hair in my hands, all ready to tear! Walcott rolled it back, Sagna delivered an inch perfect cross, and Bendtner poweredhis header home in the final minute of injury time.
In the last minute we had a four on one situation and managed to mess it up. At the end of the day if you can miss such a chance and laugh about it, you’ve done something right. The challenge continues.
Almunia: Didn’t have much to do. Got a couple of punches in. In a way you can say he got a good mental rest between the two toughest games for the keeper.
Sagna: Showed much more purpose and desire in attack. Hardly required at the back. Top class cross for the assist. Makes you wonder why he doesn’t do it more often. It’s definitely not due to a lack of ability.
Vermaelen: Comfortable in defence, even switched to left back later in the game. Should have played centre forward for a while, we could have used another body in the box.
Silvestre: No mistakes, and some good moments in attack! Appreciate his professionalism.
Song: Did a lot more in midfield. Spread the ball better, got forward at times, and performed his usual duties without a glitch.
Denilson: Another good game from the Brazilian. I’m hoping he can improve his creative contribution as we will need it in the next few weeks.
Rosicky: Somewhat disappointing by his lofty standards. Had some good creative moments and shots on target but he went missing for parts of the game. I don’t know if the injuries have affected his work rate and stamina but he can certainly do much more with his talents.
Walcott: On Fox Soccer the commentator was extremely negative about him at every opportunity. I thought he had a great game. Never seemed to tire and put in some delightful balls. He did make some mistakes but no one puts in twenty good crosses in a game. Would have been better if he’d scored from one of his chances.
Eduardo: The Crozilian is still some way off his best but it’s good to see him get a run out. His first touch was quite decent. Probably doesn’t have the understanding with Theo as both of them haven’t been playing regularly.
Eboue: Faded in and out of the game. He could have done better by attacking the far post when all the balls were coming in from the right.
Subs: Bendtner is establishing himself as a central striker with each passing game. Nasri was busy and effective. Vela got some good touches.