After the winner

These were the scenes when Nicklas Bendtner had broken the deadlock in the 4th minute of 5 added on by the referee when all had seemed lost in this game and in Arsenal’s title hopes. The great Dane steered in a perfect header past Marcus Hahnemann, who, despite seeming to have the speed of a snail when taking his goal kicks, had been lightning fast to deny Arsenal every time they’d had a shot on goal – until Bendtner popped up to send the Emirates Stadium into raptures, me included.

I’d been disgusted at all those who had left early, and what a way to spectacularly prove their doubts wrong, as Nicklas Bendtner again popped up with a late winner just a few weeks after doing the same against Hull. This time it was off the bench, after Eduardo had squandered three guilt-edged chances in, despite the fact he’d seemed so clinical in front of goal in 07/08, a fashion we’ve sadly become used to from the Croazilian.

He started in the lone-striker position, which I’d hoped would be Theo’s when I saw the team warm up, but in the end it was a front line of, from left to right, Eboue – Eduardo – Walcott. Theo had the beating of Elokobi down the right wing, although the first time he used that blistering pace, he sliced the cross into the stands. It was promising, though.

Theo kept at it, and soon created chances for Sagna and Eduardo, twice. The first chance that fell to Eduardo was after a superb sprint and dribble by Theo, who then cut back for Eduardo to curl at goal, only for Hahnemann to tip round the post. Then, the worst of Eduardo’s three misses. After controlling it with his weaker right, he tried to hit it but completely sliced it out for a goal kick about 8 yards out. Then Theo slipped Sagna in, whose toe-poked effort was saved by the feet of Hahnemann.

Rosicky was playing well in the Fabregas role, with Nasri rested, and when Eduardo laid the ball back to him, he did well to roll the ball back to Denilson with the sole of his foot, instead of shooting under pressure. Sadly, Denilson’s shot flew wide. Vermaelen had a couple of tries from distance, but they both flew into the crowd.

Wolves were time wasting a lot. Even in the first minute, Kevin Doyle won a free kick which was probably questionable knowing the referee, and sat down for 2 minutes to do his laces – probably untied them then did them back up again. But the free kick was poor – it seemed to have had a lot of rehearsal; one ball lifted the ball up and put it down, there were a couple of lay-offs and a chipped pass that just rolled out for a goal kick unattended.

Sol was having a good game at the back, dominating the forward/s and even chasing down several balls after he’d lost it. In the end he won it back, cue the chants of “Sol’s a Gooner” which should come even more into play come April 14th at Shite Fart Lane. Theo then had a volleyed snapshot with his left foot saved fairly comfortably by the ‘keeper after a corner had been half-cleared to him, but there weren’t many more chances after that.

The breakthrough didn’t come in the first half, so the teams went in all square at 0-0. Alex Song seemed to be holding his groin as he went in, which was a worrying sign.

In the second half, the first piece of proper action must have been one of the biggest talking points of the game, possibly even the weekend – although there was barely any need for the controversy in my, and most Gooners’, eyes. Karl Henry came through the back of Rosicky and sycthed him down, getting a slither of the ball after giving Rosicky a cut with his studs. He was left writhing in pain on the ground, and the referee rightly sent Henry off. The despicable Prick McCarthy applauded his skipper off the pitch, which didn’t go down too well with the home fans. MOTD ridiculed the decision, and it’s for that reason I barely pay attention to what they have to say these days.

A few minutes after that, having slipped and scuffed the ball off of his standing foot, Theo managed to pick out Rosicky, who was clean through, but Hahnemann had bolted off of his line and Rosicky’s volley pummeled into the keeper and out for a corner.

With 10 men Wolves were defending even more resiliently, packing everyone behind the ball. I can’t remember another chance until the 94th minute, by which time Bendtner, Vela and Nasri had been brought on for Eboue, Song and Eduardo. Denilson brought the ball from the left wing across to Nasri, who soon found Rosicky. The Czech midfielder found Walcott on the right, and he touched it back to Sagna. Bacary whipped in an inch-perfect cross, and there was our saviour Bendtner to nod into the bottom right corner. Absolute perfection. The Emirates erupted, and Bendtner was joined by several team-mates by the corner flag, including Sol Campbell who was going bananas. Fabianski and Eboue charged off the bench, as Wenger and Pat Rice embraced.

After some nervy Wolves attacking, Rosicky won it back, and Nasri charged forward, with Walcott, Vela, Bendtner and Denilson for company, with only one Wolves defender between the goalkeeper and the charging Arsenal players. Somehow, that one player managed to prevent us from scoring. Nasri played in Walcott, who cut it back for Denilson, who delayed slightly before pulling the trigger. His shot was blocked, and Wolves infathomably survived. But in the end, the 3 points were ours, and in my last home game of the season I got to witness one of the greatest feelings in the world; the last minute winner.

As written by The Midfield General at GoonersWorld, click here to view more

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