What a difference 24 hours made on the weekend. The anger and frustration of Saturday afternoon transformed into relief on Sunday afternoon. Arsenal’s surprise 3-3 home draw with Norwich looked certain to cost the gunners an automatic place in next season’s Champions League, yet Spurs then drew themselves, at Aston Villa, to leave third place in Arsene Wenger’s side’s hands. Newcastle also slipped up, losing at home to champions-elect Manchester City, though, this was expected by most. It all means the final day of the season will be exciting for the neutrals, but nerve-wracking for the supporters of the three European chasing clubs. Chelsea are not out of it yet either, though they would have to win both remaining fixtures and hope other results go their way – far from ideal.
Wenger fielded the same line-up for the game with Norwich that started at Stoke a week earlier – meaning Aaron Ramsey started ahead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to the disappointment of most. Excellent goals from Benayoun and Van Persie stood out (Van Persie’s second was bad either) but the defending for Paul Lambert’s side’s goals was non-existent. First Wes Hoolahan netted after Wojciech’s poor goalkeeping, before Grant Holt’s shot deflected up off Kieran Gibbs and over the Polish stopper. Arsenal went off to a chorus of half-time boos. The gunners improved after the break and scored twice through the skipper Van Persie, but the marking for Steve Morison’s strike was astonishing. Yet, ironically, it was William Gallas who ultimately let Arsenal off the hook. Well, sort of. Chris Herd’s strike deflected in off the former Arsenal captain and earned Villa a point.
The trip to West Brom will be tough, make no mistake about it. Not only it is Roy Hodgson’s final game as boss, before he travels with England to Euro 2012, but Arsenal don’t have a perfect record against the Baggies. Overall, the record is healthy for the gunners: P131 W64 D31 L36 F232 A170 – but away from home recently, Arsenal have struggled at the Hawthorns. Arsenal drew 2-2 there last season, whilst they lost there in 2005. The gunner’s last win at the Hawthorns was in March 2009 – a 3-1 victory. The Arsenal 11 that day? Almunia; Sagna Toure Djourou Clichy; Eboue Song Denilson Nasri; Arshavin; Bendtner. That was just over three years ago, and yet, the side has changed radically. Only Song who started that day will start this weekend.
Since we last spoke, in transfer news, Arsenal have signed Lukas Podolski from FC Cologne for £10.9m, and are set to announce the signing of France and Rennes holding mdifielder Yann M’Vila according to reports – a player who will be better than Patrick Vieira according to Marcel Desailly. I have watched M’Vila play around 10 times, and one thing I notice is his intelligence. He reminds me of Gilberto Silva or Claude Makelele more than Vieira in all honesty. He is what we need considering Song loves to go forward. A midfield of Arteta M’Vila Wilshere wets the appetitite, that’s for sure. But where will Song, Rosicky, Diaby, Ramsey play? Well, it’s called strength in depth, isn’t it? Let’s hope the signing is announced soon.
Get behind the boys on Sunday, they’ll need us more than ever!
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