Match Reaction: Arsenal 3-1 Burnley
By Karl M. Tinsley
Been a while since the last appearance of ‘Match Reactions’. Sorry for the disappearing act.
MY 3 STARS
1. THEO WALCOTT: Stop the Presses!!!. Guess there is a first time for everything…as wee Theo bags himself Man of the Match honours. It was truly a tale of two halves for the Englishman, with the first half featuring the usual clueless Theo with the ball at his feet, squandering several delicious balls that played him into time and space on the right flank.
Repeatedly wasted his chances by settling for timid/poor quality crosses and/or breaking off his runs and dishing out useless check back passes to teammates. Needed to grow a set of balls and start running at defenders and driving into the 18 yard box with purpose and conviction.
That all changed in the 2nd half when FINALLY Walcott seemed to figure it all out and started picking out teammates (cough, cough…Bendtner) with pinpoint crosses and passes. He should have easily had 3-4 assists in the 2nd half if not for the carelessness of Bendtner and Arshavin.
He was a menace down the right flank the entire 2nd half and his service was top shelf. His decision to take on the defender and cut his run inside and finish with a lovely left foot stroke to the far corner was “class”…something the Gooner faithful have been waiting for, for years and years. Bottle that 2nd half Theo, use it as a template for what you need to do to be successful at this level. Mind you it was only Burnley…but it is intriguing what some long overdue criticism in the English Press can do for a players focus and commitment.
2. EMMANUEL EBOUE: “Da Screwface” has most def got it going on!! He is pumping in consistent performances on a regular basis now. Nice to see him get a chance to fight for his spot at RB since the turn of the New Year and I am stoked to see him seize the opportunity. He delivered some lovely one-touch passes that showcased his vision and reading of his players runs…a few of his efforts that stood out were the long one-touch pass that sprang Walcott free into acres of space early in the first half and of course the exquisite one touch cross body back flick that sprang Cesc clear in on net despite the tight marking of the Burnley defenders…MAGIC touch from the Ivorian!.
Eboue and Cesc had lovely chemistry today as evidenced by the clinic of pass and move football that they showcased. Eboue should have had at least 2 assists after serving up 2 brilliant passes to pick out Bendtner in the 18 yard box…which of course were spurned by the witless Dane. Finally, late in the match I spied a gorgeous one touch flick with the outside of his right foot to send Walcott in on goal and enabled Theo to unleash a heavy drive to the near post that Jensen managed to deflect wide. Defensively didn’t have much to do but I saw good hustle and tracking back when Burnley did manage to launch a counter-attack.
3. CESC FABREGAS: Just highlights the importance of the young Catalan to our Club when he can play around 36 mins and still be a 3rd Star. His passing was not of the top shelf Cesc variety…but it was decent nonetheless. Loved his work with Eboue, was unlucky not to slot home after being played in by Eboue’s cheeky back flick, when he dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Served up a nice 1-2 with Nasri that played Samir in on the Burnley net that a quick acting Jensen was just able to smoother and snuff out. Perfect timing and instincts on his run into the 18 yard box to get on the end of Nasri’s chipped ball, which he then coolly slotted 5-hole on the charging Jensen. Pity about his hamstring acting up…timing is not good with FC Porto on tap this Tuesday night.
SAMIR NASRI: That was a much much better performance out of the young Frenchman. He and Walcott have been the 2 of the biggest disappointments this season so it was nice to see the both of them up their games in this match. With the injury to Cesc…the timing of their good efforts could be critical for us against FC Porto and in the coming weeks.
TOMAS ROSICKY: He was again looking bright and dangerous on the pitch. Delivered a lovely full-blooded volley, early in the match, that was inches from being a wonder goal at the far post. Tomas demonstrated his good ball control and passing vision throughout the match and was linking up well with Gael and Cesc.
I was really fired up with his willingness to push the ball and take on the defenders and win FK’s. I was probably his harshest critic during the never-ending injury saga and was convinced he was done. A bag of balls and case of Pilsner would have been my asking price back in August 2009…so I have to eat my crow and offer up MAD PROPS to Tomas for shutting up his critics and winning over the doubters.
NICKY “BOLLOCKS” BENDTNER: An obvious no-brainer selection. Easily the worst performance by a Striker in the Gunner kit since…oh yeah…Nicky Bendtner last season when he missed 4-5 sitters in a row (cant remember the opponent). I counted 6 Gilt-Edged chances for the lumbering, stumbling, bumbling Dane that not only did he squander…but missed the net completely. I am sorry…that is inexcusable at High School level football let alone EPL. TRASH is TRASH…gotta call it like I see it with Bendtner.
We need to accept reality…the dude is NOT a 90 minute striker capable of leading the line. His technique is garbage and his mental focus is feeble…I wonder…does he actually close his eyes when the ball is coming towards him??? Seriously!!. I see no progression in his game this season…to me he is at best a 20-25 minute guy thrown on late when we are pressing for a goal and need an aerial threat for any CK/FK’s we might win or if we have to go Route One.
A win is a win and I’ll take the 3 pts. BUT…that said…we should have banged 5-6 past them easily. I hope that this match doesn’t come back to haunt us if things come down to Goal Differential at the end of the season. Would have been good for our confidence going into the FC Porto match to have filled the net against Burnley without El Capitan on the pitch.
Wenger simply MUST go out and sign an accomplished and polished finisher this summer…Eduardo, Bendtner and Vela are not capable of carrying the load if Van Persie is injured…it is beyond dispute at this point in time. On a positive note…glad to see “The Russian Schemer” get that late goal and give himself a bump in confidence going into the FC Porto match and Nasri putting in a good effort as well. With Cesc likely held out, we will need a top performance from both Arshavin and Nasri if we are to dispatch FC Porto and book our place into the next Round.
Until Tuesday…I remain
GUNS IN GUNS OUT