By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
#1. ROBIN VAN PERSIE: No surprise again. The guy has been on a mission the past 5-6 weeks and carrying the club on his shoulders. Turned in another top shelf performance with his slick dribbles, intelligent runs, high work rate, and seeking out positions on the pitch that would give him time and space on the ball.
Shooting boots were not quite dialed in today…tough luck when he rang it off the post in the second half. Didn’t hang his head though…kept plugging away and then end result was that delicious cross he served up for Bendtner to re-direct home. IMO…Robin should have been given the armband…not Kolo…who was demanding a transfer only 5-6 days ago.
#2. SAMIR NASRI: He looked very bright again today. Delivered what we’ve come to expect from him…the slick dribbles, the quick penetration and dish off’s, and rapid 1-2’s with Clichy. We didn’t get to see his shooting today but other than that…he had his fingerprints all over the match. When he plays this up-tempo game and gets his touches…he really opens up space for our other players. Like to see him take it strong into the 18 yard box a little more and get his shot off at least twice a match. But IMO…he has been the best midfield import this year in the EPL. Modric who???.
#3. NICKLAS BENDTNER: Not my favourite player or Arsenal personality by a long measure…BUT…I gotta give him PROPS when the lad does well. Came on as substitute and did what a “super-sub” is supposed to do…get involved IMMEDIATELY!. His header was weak from that set-piece introduction but he kept working hard and later had a decent strike on net. Most importantly for a striker…he drove hard to the net and finished his run on the Van Persie cross leaving him a (relatively) simple re-direct finish for the game winner. Playing striker is not complicated when the players attack the net without the ball and finish off their runs deep. Got rid of the Pink Boots and found the back of the net with the Lime Green boots…Green = $Money$ and Nicky was all that today.
KOLO TOURE: I felt Kolo had a shaky start…no surprise after his long lay-off, his petulance earlier in the week, getting the armband AND having to face the home crowd. You could tell he had giant sized butterflies in the first half…lack of communication with Almunia, nervous on the ball, tentative to push forward when in possession. BUT he really stood out in the last 10-12 minutes when Bolton started heaving long balls down the pitch and into our box. Kolo was really going up strong in the air and winning those aerial challenges. He looked like a man possessed. He was also taking charge of any scraps that fell, cleverly hacking clear. He has a long way to go to get back to the Toure vintage of 2004-2007…but today was a positive step in that direction.
ABOU DIABY: Showed again how much he is NOT ready to be a regular starter for The Gunners. The lad is incapable of stringing even 2 good matches together…let alone putting a long run of them together. He was back to his usual PANTS self. The head down runs, over-dribbling, copious turnovers, feeble tackling and inability to deliver an incisive pass to out strike force. Getting tired of his B.S., seems like the only place we can play him and get an effective performance is in a 4-4-1-1 with him playing behind Butta’-legs or Robin.
ADEBAYOR (Butta’-legs): Disappointing effort from the big man. Not sure what his deal is…but he has been MIA for way to many matches lately. He seems to have lost his focus and dare I say it his NERVE in front of the net. He has had glorious chances go begging in his last 3 matches…which brings back the spectre of the old Butta’-legs who missed 2 sitters every match!. What is more troubling is his lack of impact on the match…he was almost invisible…other than when he took too long to get his wide open shot off and had it blocked. I can live with the lack of scoring when he does the other things well (winning aerial challenges, picking out players with good passing, running his ass off to create space for others) but lately the work-rate has not been in evidence. C’mon dude…we need you to up your game BEFORE Robin cools off.
Another ugly, scrappy and late win BUT as always we’ll take the 3 points and move on. Most importantly, we kept pace with and the pressure on Aston Villa…who I see managed to squeak by after a legitimate call for a late PK against Ashley Young was denied. Villa are really living on good luck lately…one thing is for sure…that can’t last much longer. As long as we take care of business against the teams below us in the table, we will have Villa reeled in soon enough. I feel buoyant about things…despite a shjiit first half of the season we are only 3 pts out of 4th spot and we have Man Utd and Chelsea scalps on our belt. Hopefully, The Boss brings in some class players in the next 3 weeks and we can go on a tear in the league…and get our confidence sky-high for the CL encounter with AS Roma in late February.
GUNS IN GUNS OUT