Serious reality check
29th Jan 2008
Let`s be fair - it wasn`t like anyone expected us to go down to Ashburton and actually get anything. After Saturday`s humbling cup tie, it was back to the alleged bread and butter of the league for the latest instalment of us v the Gooners. Still licking our wounds from the 3-0 cup exit, KK made a couple of slight tinkerings with the team as N`Zogbia dropped back to left back (grrr!) and Rozenhal returned to his new found midfield slot for the match.
Arsenal replaced Rosicky with Eduardo but otherwise looked the same strong team. Obviously sensing the fact that Adebayor has been added to the now legendary Newcastle Nemesis list, comprising of the likes of Speedie, Woan, Le Tissier, Poyet, Owen and Scholes, he retained his place whilst Bendtner remained on the bench.
The first half was a typically drab affair. We couldn`t get any sort of foothold in the match as Arsenal bossed possession and the second ball. One noticeable aspect was what the teams did when they got the ball. Almost every Arsenal player had an idea of what to do as soon as the ball reached them, leading to one-touch build up play and immediate turns to face the goal.
We on the other hand needed about two seconds to compose ourselves, by which time an Arsenal player was flying into the tackle. I lost track of the amount of pretty pattern play between Duff and N`Zogbia that led to us dropping further and further back before hoofing it long for Gallas and Senderos to gobble up invitingly.
When defining the word marginalised in terms of football you could send a video of Michael Owen last night to whoever is trying to define it. The lad was like little boy lost as we singularly failed to pick him out once with any meaningful pass or cross. Rumours suggest Capello is likely to show him a tough stance and drop him for the Swiss game next week, replacing him with ginger shelf stacker Dave Kitson. This is likely to go down about as well with EMO as Ashley Cole banging that hairdresser did with Wor Cheryl. Expect some seriously off body language.
Back to the game and Arsenal broke the deadlock after Flamini rode a Rozenhal challenge on our left to ping in a perfect cross. Adebayor in the meantime had latched onto the midget Carr and it became a no-contest as he buried a belting header.
Half time came and went and we had our little spell in the game, creating nothing meaningful but looking slightly brighter. That was until Flamini raked home a 30 yarder into the top corner. MOTD goal of the month territory that one. The misery was capped off by Fabregas complementing a fantastic all round passing performance with a goal from a Bendtner assist.
In the dying embers Shola went in one on one with Gallas, gangling to one side before scuffing a tame shot at Almunia. Butt also had a free kick saved/hit the bar but it was purely academic. Other points of note from the game were N`Zogbia`s 5th yellow of the season, ruling him out of Villa away, coupled with the return of a slick heeded Barton.
Looking at the cheble after the game didn`t make pretty reading. Boro won to come within two points and even worse was the mackems winning 2-0 against Brum. We are now just seven points of the trapdoor and I for one am looking slightly worriedly at our remaining fixtures. To say the Foam Handed Fiddlers game this weekend is important would be a giant understatement. It`s crucial we not just score but win to hope that gap opens up again and some of the pressure eases. 2008 has been a sh*t year so far…