Arshavin Shows Up and Blows Up

GOA was pumped for this match.  Last year’s Anfield barn burner was something for the history books.  We weren’t disappointed.. Arshavin showed up as the big game player by scoring a delicious goal that made the difference.  I admit that we didn’t play particularly well.  Fab got lost in red shirts and pool did a good job of clogging the midfield.  But we got the job done.

Putting aside the beauty and importance of Arshavin’s goall, the switch at half-time made all the difference in this match: Wenger switched Nasri and Walcott in the wings.  This change was important because it forced Glen Johnson to stay at the halfway line to anticipate Walcott’s speedy runs.  Pool therefore lost one of its most effective attack options and Nasri was then free to link Fab with Arshavin at the top of the box.  This lineup thus seems the most effective in the absence of a big man because it gives Arshavin where he is most dangerous instead of relying on crosses from Sagna.

The Diaby substitution was well timed and Sylvestre brought a little veteran calm to bring the points home.  I liked Diaby’s positioning because he banged heads at midfield to interrupt long ball runs and also added another threat with his size and speed.  He’s a better sub player for Arshavin than he is for a midfielder.

The biggest issue is Alumnia.  He was terrible on set pieces because he failed to assert himself and he poked instead of punched the ball.  At least he stayed on his line most of the time.  However, we are already crazy vulnerable on set pieces without having to worry about our goalkeeper.  We need to get that position straight by January.

Pool can justifiably complain about the referee, but we have gotten the short end of so many bad calls that we shouldn’t feel any sympathy.  Arshavin and Company showed up and that’s the bottom line.  Our next big challenge is Aston Villa on 12/27/09, but we have to win against mid-tier teams until then.  Neither Chelsea nor ManUtd have tough opponents until after the new year so it’s all the more important that we add to the win column.

Now for the Championship draw!

signing off,

the pundit


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