It was far from easy, though perhaps it might have been. It was not a walkover, though an early goal suggested it would be otherwise. But last night’s win was three points all the same, a clean sheet, and a five point lead over the defending champions, Manchester United.In what is usually a very spikey fixture against the blue and white of Lancashire, last night’s fixture was a little sedate, given prior standards set. Our first attack of the game led to a corner – Eduardo stepped up to take it, and sumptuously hit an inviting cross for the bold Phillipe Senderos to pummel past Friedel with the full force of a defender’s header. Swamped by celebrating team mates, Senderos’ goal looked to have opened up a side determined to win an important fixture.
And yet…the second goal never really came. It was all Arsenal for a long while, until the first half dragged on into the final minutes, where predictably Blackburn got more of a grip on the game before the whistle went.
Given the spectre of ‘monumental stuff up’ looming over this match, things could have all gone badly for The Arsenal, given the tense atmosphere permeating throughout the ground. Despite the fact Blackburn never really threatened for the whole of the second half, the pessimists amongst us notoriously hate 1-0 leads. Brad Friedel seemed to have Adebayor’s number for the night, while Fabregas shot over and wide while Hleb hit the post.
Blackburn finally capitulated in the closing minutes when Hleb’s pass found Adebayor in the centre of the penalty area for red-hot striker to finish for his 12th goal in 8 games. Game, set, match – whether Blackburn deserved a 2-0 defeat instead of a 1-0 is cause for debate, but a trivial cause in my eyes.
We now turn our attentions to our FA Cup date with the denizens of Old Trafford. Hopefully Senderos and Flamini dont feel any afterburn from their lingering injuries, and the rest of the injury-list starts to ease up quickly. There really isn’t a lot of time spare on this side of the Pacific to write a full-scale match report, but I will say that the lead on top of the table is a very useful one.
Carrick and Ferguson can go on all they like about how Arsenal will slip up while they continue to play poorly, but we have our destiny firmly in our grasp. It’s now just a matter of concentration and nerve.
As always, it remains a matter of ignoring what others say (the fickle bookies now putting us as favourites for the title, for one thing), and stick to what we do best – continuing with our passing game so often criticised throughout the season; letting Wenger manage the side in his unique way; and for us fans to keep faith (easily renewed, now) in a young side brimming with a petulant confidence.
Drink something merry to savour the moment, folks. We could play better, even with our ‘bare-bones’ selection, and yet we are still picking up maximum points. Savour it well.