I’ve used the word ‘bullet’ to describe a few long-range goals that Arsenal have scored this season so far. Diaby against Derby County, and Fabregas and Adebayor against Tottenham come to mind. They’re nothing. Absolutely bloody-nothing compared to the free-kick that Robin van Persie hit to open the scoring in a strange 3-2 win for Arsenal over Sunderland.
There is no hyperbole in me saying that its difficult to follow the shot even in slow motion, it was that quick. Craig ‘Im the most expensive keeper in England’ Gordon stood no chance as the ball flew in under the roof of the net, and I’ve watched it again and again to try and trace the path of the ball. It was straight as an arrow, but you just cant follow it. It’s too quick, and I haven’t seen a shot like that in a while. ‘Phew’, I should think.
The first half-hour made the match’s prospect look like a walkover, and by the 15th minute, it was 2-0, with an off-balance Senderos finishing Adebayor’s right-wing cut back with a bobbling shot that wrong footed the keeper into the left side of his net. The match could have been dead and buried after 20 minutes, when Hleb crossed in from the left, for Fabregas to miss the run (again?) but for Diaby to finish at the far post, only to be wrongfully called offside.
The call made for an interesting remainder of a match, certainly. Dwight Yorke’s long ball saw a Sunderland striker play a shot at Almunia, the block falling to Wallace outside of the box, who shot after controlling the ball past a stranded Almunia for 2-1 before halftime. Four minutes into the second half, it was 2-2, with Jones heading in from a cross past Almunia, who could only glove the ball onto the inside of the post and in.
Fabregas dawdled, van Persie missed a chance and Walcott missed what looked to be an absolute sitter. It was a second half of dominance but over-elaboration. But come the 80th minute, Walcott fed in van Persie from the right, who controled the ball with his left foot, and subtly (but on closer examination, brilliantly) shot past Gordon with the same foot almost immediately to score the winner at 3-2.
General mayhem, chance-wise, ensued after that, including missed chances from Adebayor and ex-Arsenal youth prospect Anthony Stokes.
Nevertheless, what matters is that a win was secured before the international break. van Persie was scintillating in his pressing the forward line as well as his finishing, which was Bergkamp-like, at least fleetingly. Sunderland gave a good account of themselves, though Roy Keane reckons Man Utd will still trump Arsenal to the title (they have work to do, certainly).
After the match, Arsene Wenger remarked on the performance:
“It was a test of our resilience and quality. I think Robin’s winner was deserved but they had chances as well. You can say that we passed it a little bit too much, but it is our game and we still scored three goals.”
Which is dead-on. I’ve mentioned we over-elaborated, but what matters is that we still scored three goals, which is hidden a bit in a 3-2 result. In any other match, scoring three is all you could ask for and then some, and it’s good to have a break from the 1-0 fair of late.
As for Robin van Persie, it’s more vindication for the boy after a sluggish scoring-start to the season. The floodgate’s open now, right before we stop playing altogether and watch FIFA make their money, the curs. It’s just brilliant to see him producing the goods while other extortionately priced players salvage home-draws against bottom three clubs. I name no names, of course.
And with that, it’s international week and take-over speculation for the next week or so. Fun? Youbetchayoubetchayoubetcha.