It was a match that saw Arsenal starting in 5th place, looking up at Aston Villa taking the 4th place. With the transfer window closing soon, many focus was on Arshavin’s move to Arsenal but it did not happen, yet.
Arsenal started with Almunia, Gallas, Toure, Clichy, Sagna, Denilson, Diaby, Eboue, Nasri, Adebayor and Bendtner. Van Persie was rested by Arsene, presumably to keep him fresh for the Cardiff replay on Tuesday.
The team started brightly, with the first clear chance falling to Diaby in the opening minutes, whose header was deflected onto the bar by Collins, one of the pillars in defence for Wet Spam.
Further chances fell to Bendtner as well, but the opening goal still did not arrive.
Nasri was proving to be a handful in the midfield, drifting in from the wings to centre, where he has proven to be more devastating with his eye for a pass. It was clear that in the absence of Fabregas, Nasri is the main creativity outlet in the team.
10 minutes from half time saw the first change forced by injury. Scott Parker challenged heavily with Eboue and pretty much flattened him like a pancake. After a protracted treatment process, Eboue returned, but was clearly in no shape to continue. Vela came onto the field as his replacement.
Wet Spam has not conjured much chances, but their defence to their credit has limited Arsenal so far.
Half time, and the score remains at 0 – 0.
2nd half started and Arsenal were playing with the usual high tempo expected. The opening minutes seemed the likeliest of Arsenal scoring the opener. A free-kick was lofted into the box and cushioned down by Bendtner, only to be fisted away by Robert Green, who has marshaled his defence well so far. Toure also tried his luck in the box, hooking a loose ball goal-wards, only to be cleared by Collins.
A loose ball fell to Diaby in the midfield, and he did well to carry the ball forward and unleashed a shot, which flew wide.
More chances were being created, with Denilson and Sagna also joining the attack. Still the goal eludes us. At this point, the crowd were growing restless and must be wondering what must be done to score a goal against a resolute Wet Spam defence. Bummer…
Just pass the hour, Arsene decided to answer the prayers of many fans, sending Van Persie into the fray. He replaced Bendtner in attack and once again, there is hope.
Wet Spam sent in one of their attacking options as well in a bid to peg back Arsenal.
The clearest chance so far fell to Adebayor. A cross from the left by Vela found Adebayor eluding Upson, jumping high to meet a free header. A header was directed towards goal, only to see Green clutch it gratefully.
Shortly after, Vela was booked for a dive in the box for trying to win a penalty. Diaby was also replaced after being injured in a tackle by Savio. Song took his place to try push the team forward.
4 minutes of stoppage time sounds like a stage for Arsenal to raid a winner. But unfortunately, there was no repeat of the Everton heroics.
Game ended 0 – 0, but perhaps the biggest regret was that Villa was held 0 – 0 at home as well, and we missed the chance to make up valuable ground on the coveted 4th place.
Next up, Cardiff in the replay, and hopefully good news on Arshavin.