Obviously, the main talking point is Manuel Almunia’s inability to catch Kevin Phillips’ deflected
shot effort, and how the title chances look over again. Yes, Almunia should’ve dealt with the effort, and it came from a stupidly conceded free kick. Andrey Arshavin should be going into the corner rather than the penalty box at that stage. Personally, I thought that the goal shouldn’t of counted because Chucho is offside when the ball is played and is interfering with play.
In regards to the title, we need Man United to drop 5 points, and Chelsea 4 because of how far behind we are in terms of goal difference. Can they drop those points? Obviously, a dour 0-0 draw between the pair, with Rooney, Drogba, Terry and Vidic being sent off is the best result, or any draw. If we win, and they draw then we are only 2 points behind Man United and 1 behind Chelsea. The title is still doable, but it is difficult.
I also have a problem with the team selection. Arsene Wenger said this before the match:
I don’t choose at the moment, I think the League for me is the most important. Birmingham is the absolute priority for me
Yet, despite saying that, Arsenal started both Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky, instead of Samir Nasri and Andrey Arshavin. Walcott and Rosicky were fairly ineffectual, though Walcott was not as bad as some said, he just didn’t get the ball to run at people. Nasri and Arshavin came on, and made a difference as Nasri scored, and Arshavin opened space. Nasri could’ve scored again, so too could’ve Arshavin. After the match, he said that Arshavin had a groin problem and Nasri a bit of a knock, but I think thats bullshit. If they weren’t fit enough to start, then they aren’t fit enough to be on the bench. Obviously he had Barcelona in mind, he gambled and he lost. But that could be a decision that comes back to haunt us if we lose the title by 1 or 2 points.
But Almunia is still at fault. The shot was right at him, and he flapped. I’m not sure what the complete ratio is of shots on target/per goal and how much you can draw into that, but one thing you can look at is his kicking. Against Birmingham, his kicking was horrible, and not for the first time. On the other hand, Joe Hart made 17 out of 31 passes successful, and most were longer passes than Almunia. Hart is a top class goalkeeper, Arsenal need a top class goalkeeper, and we don’t have one.
by Guardian Chalkboards