After a month that Arsenal fans would sooner forget, it was refreshing to the extreme to see a glimpse of the old Arsenal, with their crisp, one touch passing, and solid, uncompromising midfield.
It has been a month where statements such as this were few and far between, but somehow, from somewhere, our midfield found some cohesion, and the knock on effect saw the ball nestled in the West Brom net 3 times.
Of all the players mooted in recent matches, Nicklas Bendtner was the one who emerged from this encounter with all the plaudits, and deservedly so. His brace, well taken and emphatically put away, show that the lad is a confidence player, as he was spurred on to put in a superb performance, particularly in the second half, where he seemed to lead the line and get involved in everything. More of the same would be appreciated, and if he maintains his confidence, expected.
The third goal, sandwiched between Bendtner’s belters, was textbook Toure, and sadly a swansong, as the defender did not emerge from the second half, alledgedly due to injury.
It could be argued that Arsenal faced lacklustre opposition today, West Brom a team who did not inspire coming forward. However, Arsenal have stuttered before against sub par opposition, so this was a game that had a special impact, if not for the 3 points, then certainly for the end of the goal drought, and the rediscovery of some of Arsenal’s more admired footballing traits.
In fact, there were more positives still to come from this match.
Most noteably, Diaby, who had not been as consistent as people would have hoped in the past, looked imperious, tracking back and putting in Vieira-esque tackles, and surging forward like a steamroller with a supercharger to scupper the West Brom defence. Massively impressive, if he can maintain this kind of form, I think we may have found our partner for Cesc.
Arshavin continues to impress, and in his slow return to fitness, looks a threat whenever he touches the ball. A fit Andrei would no doubt have buried the ball in the net a few times over with the chances he crafted for himself tonight.
Song marshalled the back line with composure and assuredness way beyond his years, and I for one was hugely impressed with his performance. Almost a “coming of age” tonight, if that isn’t laying it on too thick.
And finally, Almunia, who many people have lambasted, and accused of being “good, but not great”, put in another superb performance tonight. Could not be faulted for the goal, and made a few smart saves, one, a jaw dropping finger tip push past the post, when a goal looked certain for the Midland outfit.
It was also nice to see Merida get a run out. He had a few interesting moments on the ball, and this can only have done his confidence good. Similarly, Ramsey had a decent half hour or so, aside from a panicked moment which saw Almunia come to his rescue. We can forgive him this, he is after all, only a nipper.
All in all, tonight’s result shows what we can do, and what we have been missing these last few weeks. Based on this effort, I am a little more heartened in our chase for Champions League qualification. Maybe not totally convinced, but hey, it’s a damn good starting point.
Wrote by GES @ Goonersworld