Arsenal Back In The Title Race? (w/ Player Ratings)

Arsenal (3) – (0) Tottenham Hotspur
Van Persie (42′, 62′) Fabregas (42′)
The Emirates Stadium, London

Before the game, I was thinking that this match was Arsenal’s chance to prove they are worthy title contenders.

After the big disappointment of throwing away leads both at AZ Alkmaar and West Ham United last week, the North London Derby was the perfect chance to see if Arsenal had learnt their lesson and could close out games, keep a clean sheet and obviously get all 3 points.

And Arsenal delivered.

Tottenham had impressed in the opening games of the Premier League season but have recently been going off the boil, and Arsenal simply had too much for them today and completely dominated for large portions of the game. And it wouldn’t have been an exaggeration to say Arsenal could, and should, have won 6 or 7 nil.

The first half was a little cagey and Arsenal’s best chance came to Fabregas who saw his left foot shot saved well from Gomes after some quality work from Arshavin. As you would expect, Arsenal were pulling the strings and Almunia’s comeback was mainly uneventful, bar having to collect a few crosses.

Bendtner came off with an injury and was replaced by Eduardo after 36 minutes, after the Dane looked lively and was having a decent game.

And on 42 minutes, the game sparked into life.

A quick throw in from Sagna on the right was returned to him by Fabregas, and the Frenchman’s low cross was inch perfect as he found the in-form Robin Van Persie who darted in front of Bassong and nicked the ball under Gomes for the opening goal.

I have to say that Van Persie has been a revelation this season, and his game has adapted and improved greatly. From a natural second striker, he has become the target man we’ve needed and his passing, vision, control and team play has been just fantastic this year. Credit to his ability and desire to change the way he plays for the team, and as well as having a rocket shot from distance his positioning in the box shows real intelligence.

After that, Tottenham collapsed and a moment of brilliance from Cesc Fabregas almost blew the roof off the Emirates.

Straight from kick off, a lazy pass from Palacios was intercepted by Van Persie and the ball rolled into the path of Fabregas who started running at Spurs. He breezed past Palacios, nutmegged Ledley King and brushed off Corluka before coolly placing his shot into the near corner.

A stunning goal!

Then Arsenal saw out the remaining few minutes and led in the North London Derby at half time.

As the second half kicked off, the big question was how would Arsenal perform after conceding similar leads over the last seven days.

But after 20 minutes, Van Persie essentially killed the game off.

Eduardo had the ball on the right wing and was hacked down by Assou-Ekotto but referee Mark Clattenberg waved play on. Sagna stopped, played on and then crossed for Van Persie who tapped in from close range after Bassong and King could deal with it.

With the game dead and buried, it was a case of making sure Arsenal could show that they had learnt from previous games and keep Tottenham at bay and whether Arsenal could keep a rare clean sheet.

Eduardo and Diaby had chances to make it 4 but were guilty of profligacy and the scoreline stayed a only 3.

Arsene Wenger was clearly animated on the touchline despite the 3 goal margin and this was hugely encouraging to see.

We was absolutely livid as he was shouting instructions to his midfield to sit back and make sure that we didn’t concede another sloppy and unnecessary goal.

Obviously the last 2 competitive games and the dropped points have been discussed behind closed doors and while this is only the start, it is good to see that Wenger finally realises that we’re guilty of taking our foot off the pedal and are prone to throwing away leads. If Arsenal are even going to be considered real title contenders then closing out games is a vital part of fighting at the top of the table.

And fortunately, it looks like this issue is being addressed.

There is obviously a long way to go this season but sitting second in the league (with a game in hand after this weekend) is encouraging to see after a quarter of the season.

And from a usually pessimistic Arsenal fan, the signs at the moment are positive.

We have players such as Rosicky, Walcott, Denilson and Nasri to return and push for starting places, and with Vermaelen and Arshavin this season then we might just have that extra quality we need to really challenge.

If we’re near the top of the league come Spring, then that West Ham game might just have been a blessing in disguise.

Player & Referee Ratings

Manuel Almunia: 6/10
Mainly had to deal with crosses which generally, he did okay with. He did drop a couple and luckily the mistakes didn’t prove to be decisive. Was asked to make a one or two routine saves which were dealt with, but on the whole was a stroll in the park.

Bacary Sagna: 9/10
Excellent today. Full of running, dealt with the aerial threat from Peter Crouch well and more importantly his crossing was paramount in today’s win, with two quality deliveries for Van Persie’s brace. Robbie Keane drifted out to the left a lot throughout the game and didn’t get so much as a look in.

William Gallas: 8/10
On the whole, solid but made a couple of errors – one of which was giving away a freekick on the edge of the box for a handball. Did make an excellent last ditch interception though when Robbie Keane was through on goal to prevent and almost certain goal.

Thomas Vermaelen: 9/10
Sensational again. In the air he is colossal and dealt with most of Tottenham’s crosses with ease. Was extremely unfortunate to get a booking when he clearly won the ball fairly from Corluka.

Gael Clichy: 8/10
Up and down the left side throughout the entire game and looked very comfortable. Passing and decision-making seems to have improved and hopefully he can keep this consistency over the season.

Alex Song: 8/10
Excellent again and covered a lot of ground. Was quick to close down any Tottenham players and his distribution was top draw. Even managed to pull of some skills while beating players and was very commanding.

Abou Diaby: 5/10
For me, far to sloppy in possession and his unwillingness to track back was disappointing. I kept an eye on him closely and his positioning is poor as well. The passage of play which summed up his performance for me was when he had the ball on the edge of the box, tried to stupidly beat a player and then lost possession. Tottenham then proceeded to have their most threatening move of the match. If Tottenham would have scored from that, I, like Arsene, would have been f*cking livid. Also somehow managed to ‘head’ the ball with his shoulder from 2 yards out and with the goal gaping.

Cesc Fabregas: 9/10
Along with Song was very commanding and controlled midfield with ease. Again, he was pulling the strings with some glorious passing and really should have had more assists when Diaby and Eduardo spurned good chances created by the captain. Great ability and desire to score that stunning goal and it was hugely deserved.

Andrei Arshavin: 7/10
Not his best game, and was only influential at times but did oozed that quality in everything he did.

Robin Van Persie: 8/10
Scored two poachers goals, and technically set-up the other for Fabregas. Clever movement in the box and his desire to score was there for everyone to see. Not everything came off for him, but delivered when it mattered.

Nicklas Bendtner: 7/10
Looked lively when he was on but his game was cut short after only half an hour.

Eduardo Da Silva: 7/10 (Replaced Bendtner on 36′)
Did well when he came on and I would have given him an 8 or 9 if he scored his chances, which you would have to say in Eduardo terms are sitters – that’s how high we all regard his finishing. But still finding his feet and will get better with more games under his belt.

Emmanuel Eboue: 6/10 (Replaced Arshavin on 78′)
Didn’t really have much to do, but did release Ramsey with a great ball near the end of the match.

Aaron Ramsey: 6/10 (Replaced Van Persie on 86′)
Not enough time to make an impact, although had a glorious chance to play in Eduardo but failed to beat the solitary defender.

Referee – Mark Clattenberg: 4/10
I have to mention the referee because I thought he was awful. Although Arsenal won, he was shocking poor in my opinion. He failed to book David Bentley for a blatant handball, and then minutes later failed to issue a card after a terrible (and late) challenge on Vermaelen. It was a highly dangerous tackle and his studs were up and it could have seriously injured Thomas. I understand that he may have tried to ‘keep the game flowing’ but his reluctance to blow his whistle was, at times, ridiculous. And how half the Tottenham players didn’t get booked and Vermaelen did for a clearly good tackle is beyond me.


30 thoughts on “Arsenal Back In The Title Race? (w/ Player Ratings)

  1. I for one have to say that the pain from the 4-4 last year is completely gone after today’s display. We were absolutely brilliant. I completely agree with you on the ref. He did my head in the whole game!!

  2. Malaysian gunner here.

    I wonder why Wenger was so angry? was it Diaby? i hope the boss will give Ramsey more chances instead of Diaby..

    Anyway, great game.

  3. Must agree Ramsey instead of Diaby.Gibbs instead of Clichy.
    Buy Upson as cover for defense and Collison in midfeild.
    Then we can win the premiership.

  4. What a brilliant performance from RVP but Diaby looks dodgy though, on the whole a great team performance.
    Looks like Totteringham willhave to try again next year, leave it to the big boys again.
    Cannot believe Harry Jockstrap could have signed the Verminator, he obviously isn’t a manager of quality players, mind you look at his previous teams!
    Nice of Liverpool to give us some space today, and lets hope manshitty do the same tomorrow.
    Up the Gunners, here we go!!!

  5. It was thanks to the ref waiving play on that we scored the third goal.

    You also missed the Almunia save from the Bentley free kick

  6. I must say as an Arsenal fan myelf, the behaviour of a large portion of Arsensl fans really disgusts me. There is this tendancy to systematically abuse and harass instead of support their own players. Today with Diaby he wasn’t great but not that bad certainly no worse than Arshavin, but every bad pass he made was greeted with this groan, like almost the fans want him to make a mistake to force him out of the club. It was the same with Ade & Eboue, the treatent of some black players who are supposedly underperforming is definitely a very worrying trend.

  7. I think the rating for Diaby is a little harsh, he atleast deserves the same as Arshavin.

    Arsh is usually my favourite player but today he gave the ball away too much, especially in the first half. His shooting was not his usual self.

    Im sure he will bounce back from this, but Diaby was just as bad.

    Also i have to give credit to Clichy who is finally coming back to his best form, as we saw with some good interceptions in the first half.

  8. Real goon I have to agree with you regarding a large section our support. When things aren’t goin right we have a tendency to pick on certain players and this does not help. Diaby seemed scared to receive the ball in case he made an error and while I agree he was poor today, we have to get behind the players no matter what. The noise after we scored was fantastic and the players responded to that by upping their game and scoring 2 more. Surely that shows how much better it is to cheer them on? However I dissagree it’s anything to do with colour I must add.

  9. Jimbo I take your point in the sense that there was a stage when Bendtner was getting similar treatment. You can see what these so called fans lack of support is doing o Diaby his confidence looks dented and as soon as he gets the ball it’s like he doesn’t want it. I am not saying the fans are racist, but I truly believe that sub-consciously there is a racaial element to some players treatment. I mean booing your own players (Eboue v Wigan) that ws so embarrassing.

  10. The ratings are pretty accurate. I agree Arsh has not put in the effort in the last few games and I am glad to see that AW substituted him, like he used to take Robert Peres off when he showed signs of tiring. Arsh even stated to the press that he does not like training. In which case AA may find himself with ever shortening runs in the team. But he wins us games. Diaby however is a completely different story. He has already lost us points this season single handedly, mainly with his head. But his lack of football brain is clearly evident in recent games. AW has never taken him off even when 60,000 spectators all witness the fact that he is not TRYING and groan. Ironically Bendtner was injured the only time this season when fans seated near me were rightly admiring the good game he was having. But he was groaned at when giving the ball away too. One can only assume that AW is giving these guys EVERY possible chance with a full 90 minutes in every game to help build their confidence, when they are evidently not up to the task. (it also increases their possible sale value) I anticipate that Nasri will now take his place and with Rosicky looking for a spot we are unlikely to see Diaby getting many starts, before Deneilson and Ramsey and indeed Coquelin, and Eastmond are ready for starts. During AW first few years he was quick to make tactical substitutions that won games and indeed titles. Now he rarely makes tactical subs, takes a player off the field simply for having a poor game. AW often said that a team can carry one passenger. But that policy gives off bad vibes to the rest of the team and to fans alike, whi are anxious for their team to win. To moan after REPEATED errors is not unfair to fans who pay £50 for the privilage of watching, and expecting that AW will field his BEST TEAM. Especially when keeping such players on the pitch is, to use AW’s own words “Killing the kids”

  11. There must be other midfielders better than Diaby. Eastmond was fantastic in midweek. Diaby was very poor today. Wenger must create a climate in he cliub where players are competing for places and the younger players feel they havea chance. Ramsey will be looking at Diaby’s performances this season thinking, What do I have to do to get a start.

  12. how often has it been said “arshavin – not his best game” as each week goes on, he seems less and less interested, i really dont see the world class player in him, like we did at the euros

  13. I still think Arsenal need a top quality goalie. I am not connvinced about Alumunia.AW is a loyalist when it comes to his players but I’m afraid you to throw sentiment out of the window if you want to win trophies.He was not seriously tested.
    Thankfully the gunners scored first otherwise in their search for an equaliser,gaps would have have been exposed and with the two full backs playing as extra wingers very prone to the counter.

  14. Real Goon, you’re opinions are way off the mark.

    Firstly, the race issue is ridiculous. Simply put, Arsenal fans aren’t stupid and know when players are strolling and not putting in the effort. We saw it with Adebayor, we’ve seen it with Eboue on occasion and currently, it is blatantly obvious with Diaby. The guy just isn’t interested, and is a completely liability.

    Some of the mistakes me made today could have cost us goals.

    And have you already forgotten the ridiculous own goal at Old Trafford?

    He has actually proved himself to be a liability!

    The difference with Arshavin, is that despite the fact he is a forward, I saw him chase down the ball every time it was in his area. Diaby on the other hand, strolls back and makes no effort to help defensively. And he’s supposed to be a midfielder!

    Granted, he’s got a decent touch but his application isn’t there. And that for most Arsenal fans is unforgivable.

    Playing for a team like Arsenal is a privilege, and to be so lazy is not good enough. Players like Parlour, Keown and Gilberto weren’t the most gifted technically but they were worshipped because they gave it 110% when they wore an Arsenal shirt. Surely that’s not too much to ask?

  15. Oh, and on the subject of groaning the fans groan whenever the ball is lost – whoever does it. I’ve heard groans when stars like Fabregas, Van Persie, Arshavin and Rosicky and it’s because the fans are just disappointed a move has broken down.

    And on the other side of the coin, the fans always cheer and clap whenever a player has done something intelligent or done a nice piece of play – and that’s for every player.

  16. Diaby is an obvious threat to our title chalenge this has nothing to do with his color of skin, cause im not white either. Diaby (Miyabi suits him better i guess) slowing and even often ruining our attack, losing balls a lot and always look nervously on the set piece..everybody is holding their breath when he got the balls and screaming in mad because he always lost it seconds later…dunno what else to say, wenger must have seen it but i dont know how he still need to jeopardize his title bid with this kind of misfit. He is our misfit of the season so far..

  17. yes diaby was given a fair bit of stick, but when he did something right, you can hear all the applause for him.. Like that free header he missed from 5 yards out only for it to hit his shoulder. First there was a groan then everyone applauded because at least he tried. And when the others(fan favs of cesc,rvp,arshvin) misplaced a pass you can hear groins too. But when diaby misplaced a pass it’s not those eye of a needle or defense splitting passes like those of cesc,rvp or arshavin, it’s those 5 yards simple passes he even gets it wrong. And you got to agree that for most parts diaby was actually just watching the game on the pitch as a spectator. With arshavin you can see his closing down of players. I can remember more than 5 such incidents in the first half alone where arshavin harried those spuds players constantly.

  18. I hope everyone knows the more the fans boo at Diaby, the more Wenger is going to play him. Just thought you would like to know that.

  19. Its verys odd some people can justify booing their own players. How can that make you a supporter? I thought that was something the opposition did (boo our players). Its becoming an habit for the Gooner unfaithfull.

    Soon at our home games we will be booing our players and the opposition will join in!! And our team will feel that we have no supporters. Just wait and see, it wont be too long before the opposition start to join in the booing.

  20. “Sagna stopped, played on and then crossed for Van Persie who tapped in from close range after Bassong and King could deal with it.”

    I think you meant “After Gormles and Leadfootedly King made a complete and utter pig’s arse of it”.

    Just checking, like.

  21. Pixie, the point you made is completely valid and correct.

    The times I remember the fans groaning yesterday were at players like Diaby, Van Persie, Fabregas and Arshavin, but the difference was that whereas their passes were difficult through balls, Diaby’s were simple square passes which he failed to even execute successfully.

    E9 Gunner, I fail to see what your point is.

    Eboue got booed a lot last season and now (thankfully) he is nothing more than a fringe player. You may think that’s harsh, but his play-acting and ridiculous behaviour against West Ham shows that it was completely justified because he was bringing the side down.

    And not to nitpick, but I’ve never actually witnessed or heard Arsenal fans systematically boo Diaby whenever he has the ball. If anything, Arsenal fans need to do it more.

  22. It just appears to me that the rules change when Arsenal play. Does anyone think we would have gotten away with the things Bentley did? No chance! When will refs be required to explain the things they do? Perhaps then we will get a fair shake. The penalty at Man U that wasn’t given, Bentley’s obvious yellow card offenses which were not punished, the yellow for Vermaelen, etc. It doesn’t stop.

  23. I am very much a Diaby hater. Nothing personal to him, but he clearly lacks what it takes to be consistent at this level. He was lacklustre in his defensive responsibilities and couldn’t do the simple things right. He played better in the second half, but really struggled in the first. If Cesc is to leave, you can understand why – passing to Diaby or Iniesta?! I know who I’d chose..

    Diaby needs to show some urgency on the ball and stop treating games as a training match. Sort your passing out and understand what tracking back means.. Then maybe you wont get the fans on your back.

    I hope Nasri will replace him when fit..

  24. too harsh on Diaby
    he did his job

    he fuct up some passes but so did Arshavin (simple passes too)
    and Ramsey running back 50 meters instead of passing it is not necessarily an improvement on Diabys performance

    players like Song (boo target from last year) and Diaby bring presence something arsenal have been lacking for the past 4 years

    ‘fans’ cheering when bendtner got injured and booing others on the pitch, poor form from the arsenal unfaithful unfortunately as usual

  25. diaby pretty much stopped jenas and huddlestone from playing despite his poor overall performance

    but seriously diaby learn how to pass- god u piss me off

  26. Bendtner to me has improved tremendously & if u watch closely, he & RVP are very technical players.
    i believe the threats to our title this season are Diaby & Almunia.
    i was so glad that no goal was conceded in that match & that is what we should always have – a disciplined defense


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