High-Flying Theo Walcott saves the day after a rubber-footed performance from Bendtner…
Phew! Well, my prediction of 6 to 7 nil would almost be conservative, if it weren’t for one of the best show of finishing inefficiency by Niklas Bendtner. Not a day to remember for him, an he’s probably not alone in this fault, to be honest. Nevertheless, despite a win that was far less convincing than we all were…well…expecting, really, the Arsenal soldier on, and its another three points in the bag for the Gunners to make it 12 on the trot.
Despite the scoreline, there were a wealth of positives to take from this, none more joyous to see than the resurgence of Theo Walcott. It really seems as though a bit of extra game time has done him a world of good. Secondly, this was one of our most creative performances in many weeks, perhaps even a few months. We showed the dynamic flair and blitzkrieg attacking style that was showcased in some of our seasons earlier games, like the 6-1 at Goodison Park.
On the other hand, this was really an abysmal show of finishing, foremost by Nicklas Bendtner, although he was not the only one guilty tonight, with Arshavin even being found red-faced on a couple of occasions, although he made amends with a fantastic strike in the dying moments. We can be light-hearted about it now, but to be honest, this can’t happen again. We could have won this match 5,6,7 nil, maybe even more than that. Arsene Wenger showed faith in Bendtner when he didn’t sign a new striker in January, and in light of that I’ve got behind Big Nik too, but he is going to need to perform a lot better. He really was cursed today, and I’m sure he’ll bounce back. Tough day for him… terrible day for him…. lets watch him bounce back against Porto.
Key Men Watch – Arsenal
I had my eye on Emmanuel Eboue and Andrey Arshavin before the match, and whilst both had influential roles in the game, the lion’s share of praise today should be deservingly heaped upon Theo Walcott. What a performance! I really hope he can keep this up, as whilst I was not amongst those calling for his head, I most defiately had serious doubts about what he could do. Eboue had a very good game again, and settled into a great rythm on the attack, with some excellent cuts inside to run at the defence. Arshavin came on as a substitute and didn’t get a whole lot of oppurtunity but tucked away a brilliant finish.
Key Man Watch - Burnley
Jensen was left with egg on his face after a mix up with his centre back gave oppurutnity for Fabregas to slide the ball through his legs on the back of a wonderful peice of Nasri vision. despite this, he made some very key saves, notably a brilliant parry from a venemous Theo Walcott strike at close range. All this would have been redundant of course if Bendtner he managed to tuck away even on or two of his golden chances.
Player Ratings -
Almunia – 8.5: Were it not for Theo Walcott, Almunia would be my man of the match. One of the best performances I have seen from the Spaniard in a very long time. Almunia made short work of not only saving several dangerous shots, including a brilliant early save from Carlisle’s low header, but he as also fantastic playing the sweeping role. Almunia saved us points today, his sweeping run to clear in the 43rd minute a showcase of what was a tight performance today. Could do nothing about the goal.
Vermaelen – 8: Yet another brilliant performance today by the Verminator. He was like a second skin to the Burnley forwards, and is a phenomenon in aways managing to get goal-side of his man. Unlucky with the goal conceded, as him and Silvestre weren’t at fault; possession was ceded far too cheaply up pitch and they were just trying to clear their box. A goal saving tackle in the last few minutes summarised his defensive prowess.
Silvestre – 7: Good performance, Silvestre! Did what he had to do with reasonable comfort, coming right after a really bad opening few minutes. I noted that with a few passages of play, by the 6th minute he’d cleared very poorly, conceded a cheap corner, and was beaten badly to the Carlisle header. At that point, things didn’t look good, but he grew in confidence and security as the game went on and turned in a very decent effort.
Eboue – 7.5: Didn’t get as many oppurtunities to beat his man down the line as he would have hoped for, I’m sure, but made good use of the chances he got. Eboue jsut always looks so dangerous when he runs at the defence, he has such quick feet and great dribbling. Got forward and got into jsut the right places to help his teamates out, a brilliant one-two with Fabregas hihglighting a creative performance by him, all though by no means his most influential in recent weeks. Pretty solid at the back too, with a few wonky clearances, but I also took note of a few very key challenges.
Clichy – 8: What a fantastic game from Clichy! He has really found form in the last fortnight. What more could be asked of him? To throw the old maxim about (hideous as it is), he’s like a new signing, really! He showed extreme pace, and I don’t know how many times he skinned his man. He was a rock on defence too, and showed none of the weaknesses he had when he returned from injury. Diagnosis: Clichy is cured and back…big time.
Denilson – 6.5: Found it hard to rate his performance because I realised after 90 minutes he’d been invisible for the entire game. Whether that means he was jsut doing a lot of dirty work or was simply in the wrong places for a defensive midifielder is the question. I Didn’t note anthing promising from him tonight, although was on the edge of my seat tonight after a couple of terrible moments, like his poorly weighted back header which alsmot gifted a perfect throughball to the Burnley forwards.
Rosicky – 7: The ball control of this guy is astounding; the ball literally seemed glued to his foot tonight, particularly evident by the number of fouls he suffered, a his quick feet and great dribbling often earned him a chop from behind. I thought he was great tonight, and at the time was disappointed to see him taken off. Some excellent runs cutting in through midfield were the highlightsof a good days work for Tomas.
Fabregas – 8: In the short-time he had on the pitch, Fabregas was at his brilliant best. I’ve been sceptical of some of his recent form, prior to the Sunderland game, as he has tended to be invisible in a number of big matches. But it was an excellent performance from El Capitan tonight, a great goal at the heart of it, but he bufferd out his match rating with great creativity in the final third, and notably, some excellent runs into the Burnley box that very nearly took him past the last man once or twice. His brilliant run to get onto Nasri’s ball was the showpeice of this.
Nasri – 7.5: A really good game for him tonight, providing the notable assist for Fabregas with a pass that was worth as much as the goal itself, really. Great vision, there. Other than that he looked really on to it all night, and was nightmare on the edge of the area. Would like to see a few more goals from him before the end of the campaign, and I’m sure he’d love it too.
Walcott – 9 (MOTM): Simply phenomenal tonight, he literally ripped th Burnely defence to shreds. His well known speed was on show tonight, but more so than that, his decision making was fantastic. Walcott turned out what really was a desperately needed greta performance, and hopefully this will silence some of the more extreme of is critics. I called for him to start improving a few days ago, and if he plays like that consistantly, he could be the key man in our final run in. His final ball was off in the first quarter of the game, but this improved dratically as he went on, and he was even gaining the confidence to shoot after halftime. Fucking fantastic goal, Theo, one of the best a player has produced for us this season. Could have had another, with a stinging shot from a wide angle that Jensen could only parry.
Bendtner – 3: Sorry Nik, but it couldn’t be any higher, really. His finishing was just apalling tonight, and could have cost us the game. But it didn’t so lets move on, nd jsut hope for the best next time. We don’t have a better option so there is no point dwelling on it. All I can say is, you had better train hard this week, Bendtner! I didn’t rate him lower because he was okay in showing composure on atatck and linked well with other players. He was lazy in competing for headers though. EDIT: Bumped him to three as somebody did make a point that he got an assist…
Diaby - 6.5: Seeme da little bit short of pace today, probably due to the return from injury. Looked good enough on attack, and seems to have kicked his habits of throwing 50/50 passes and taking one too many touches on the ball. Did well to replace Fabregas, a hard act to follow.
A big positive I think we can draw from this performance is the improvement in the quality of our final ball into the box. it was terrible earlier in the season, but we turned out more good crosses in this game than I’ve seen all season, really. Good to see. Nasri and Walcott were particularly good. Did anybody else notice how slow Eduardo was looking? He seems to have lost all pace…
Don’t forget to have your say on the forum regarding the Burnley game! ArsenalAction.com is the place to be.
PS… hope Man United get rolled!