The Late, Late Show Presented By Thierry Henry…
With Liverpool beating the Russians yesterday most people – including myself – believed that this would give Manchester United a licence to go for all 3 points today because whatever happened they would be still 6 points clear anyway. But United decided to keep it tight and stiffle Arsenal and it worked – well, for 83 minutes anyway.
The first half was like a chess match and we had most of the possession with Manchester United having the best of the first 5 minutes and the best of the final 5 minutes – with Lehmann making some excellent saves to keep out the league leaders.
United we sitting pretty in the second half when they scored off the break like Arsenal have been in recent weeks with their only real attack of the half. Larsson squared the ball to Scholes who was on the halfway line who played it wide to Ronaldo on the left wing. He played the ball into the empty space behind Eboue and Fabregas was left to track back – but Evra crossed the ball into the area and Toure’s touch only directed it to Rooney who scored his customary goal against Arsenal to score his only 5th of this Premiership campaign.
United did to Arsenal what we did against Blackburn and Liverpool!
After the goal the game failed to really get into gear and the disappointing Hleb was replaced by Robin Van Persie who was on the bench because of his ankle problem and it was a scrappy peice of play that lead to Arsenal’s equaliser.
Fabregas made a surging run into the Manchester United half and was tackled by Scholes and Evra, which lead to Rosicky and Cesc fighting for the ball on the edge of the area. The ball bounced around but Cesc managed to feed Rosicky on the right hand side to curle a great cross into the box. Henry missed the ball but Van Persie made a great run and smashed the ball into the roof of the net!
A fantastically taken goal and a fantastic equaliser!
From then on there was only one team who was going to win it.
Throughout the second half Team Manchester were wasting time, sitting on their 1-0 lead and now it had bitten them in the ass!
Arsenal kept fighting and they showed great desire until the final whistle. Eboue who has seen his crossing improve greatly this season and once he played a smart one-two with Rosicky he drove an outstanding cross into the 6 yard box with only seconds remaining. His pin-point cross found captain Henry and he obliged by heading the ball into the United net!
Thierry Henry had done it again!
The Gunners had won yet another testing match in 2007 and have made January a golden month for Arsenal – the team have been brilliant over the last few weeks and can only get better!
And Arsenal had fulfilled my prediction of winning the game 2-1!
Arsenal may be 12 points away from Manchester United by they are on the heels of Liverpool and Chelsea and there’s still a lot of football left to play this season…
ARSENAL 4 LIFE’S PLAYER RATINGS:
Jens Lehmann – 8/10
Made some great saves – particularly at the end of the first half from a rasping shot from Rooney and a header from Larsson. Was exposed for the goal and didn’t stand a chance. An extra point for pretending to be injured at the end of the game!
Emmanuel Eboue – 8/10
Kept Ronaldo quiet and pushed back the winger with his forward runs. He Reduced the antics on the pitch and more importantly produced a brilliant cross for Thierry Henry for the winning goal.
Gael Clichy – 7/10
Coped well against Rooney on the wing and couldn’t really do anything about the goal. Rooney was quiet for most of the game and that was thanks to Gael. Also made a fantastic last-ditch tackle from Larsson who was through on goal and looked certain to score.
Philippe Senderos – 6/10
Was mainly solid but made some really basic defending errors early on in the game. Kept Giggs and Larsson quiet for the most part.
Kolo Toure – 8/10
Organised the backline well and unlucky that his header directed the ball to Rooney for the goal. Pushed forward in the closing stages of the second half and forced Manchester United further and further back. Did well against Larsson and Giggs.
Alexander Hleb – 4/10
Very poor and substituted after 65 minutes. Couldn’t keep the ball at all which was disappointing from a player who’s game is excellent ball retention. Passes were inaccurate and he lost Evra for the Manchester United goal.
Tomas Rosicky – 7/10
Wasn’t afraid to shoot but his attempts at goal were well off the mark. Ineffective for most of the match except for the final 15 minutes when he finally found his stride but he did contribute to the goals. Did well to create the opening with Cesc for the cross for the first goal and played a smart one-two for the Eboue cross at the end of the game.
Mathieu Flamini – 8/10
Worked tirelessly in midfield for the suspended Gilberto and put in another solid performance.
Cesc Fabregas – 9/10
Did well against a tight 5 man United midfield and pushed the team forward whenever he could. Suffered from United’s deep formation but found space and moved the ball well, and was in the build up for both Arsenal goals.
Emmanuel Adebayor – 8/10
Ran his heart out for the cause and gave everything. Looked like the biggest threat from Arsenal and gave Vidic and Rio Ferdinand all kinds of problems.
Thierry Henry – 6/10
Found it hard against a solid Manchester United defence and was quiet for most of the match. But Henry is a special player and given time and space can kill teams in an instant and did just that right at the death. One extra point for goading Gary Neville after Van Persie scored the equaliser!
Robin Van Persie – 8/10
Only played 25 minutes but showed great movement for the goal and to score from that angle was excellent and the quality of the goal shouldn’t be underestimated.
Julio Baptista – 5/10
Came on after 80 minutes for Flamini but didn’t have much time to make a contribution.