3 Goals Scored, 3 Points Gained and 3rd Place Secured
A season that had engulfed football lovers and neutrals alike was finally coming to an end and I must say that yesterday’s games were the most epic I’ve ever watched in my entire life. Never has there been so much at stake at various positions in the log, ranging from the very top to things down below.
Queens Park Rangers had it at the back of their minds that a defeat to Manchester City was going to cost them their top-flight status but they gave the oil moneybags as run for their money. New signing, Sergio Aguero, put his name in the Etihad folklore with that amazing strike right at the death.
In as much as I was happy to see the Premier League taken off Manchester United’s grasp, the fact that $amir Na$ri justified the noise he made was certainly a bitter pill to swallow. However, it was nice to see ex-Gunners like Kolo Toure and Gael Clichy get that “feeling” yet again.
Arsene Wenger was faced with a monumental task of rallying his troops for one final surge against West Brom with Champions League qualification being the ultimate price. Elsewhere, Tottenham hosted Fulham while Newcastle visited Everton.
Early on, the gauntlet was thrown by Tottenham when ex-Gunner, Emmanuel Adebayor, showed off his technique with a good finish to put the Spuds ahead. Arsenal responded back, thanks for Yossi Benayoun’s determination and Martin Fulop’s stupidity.
The goalie had a moment Manuel Almunia would have been proud off when his decision making got the better of him on the edge of his own box and Benayoun was on hand to punish him. In what might probably be his last game for Arsenal, the Rabbi’s efforts to the club will forever remain in our hearts and we can only wish him the best in his future endeavors.
West Brom almost pegged Arsenal back through a quick shot from Marc-Antoine Fortune but Wojciech Szczesny was on hand to make a good save in his near post. However, Szczesny’s decision making played a quick one on him when Shane Long, that was clearly offside, broke through to place a shot past the goalie.
The hosts took the lead courtesy of a cliche Arsenal fans have become accustomed to, suspect defending. An over the top chip from Morrison was controlled by Graeme Dorrans, that used his head to evade Laurent Koscielny before rifling the ball past Szczesny.
Benayoun was one of the livelier figures in the Arsenal forward line and he connected with some nice Carl Jenkinson crosses but the end product was lacking. Andre Santos showcased his attacking prowess, shimming past a handful of defenders before drilling the ball past Fulop.
Wenger showed his intent after the interval, introducing Theo Walcott for Tomas Rosicky. The Czech dynamo wasn’t the usual vibrant Little Mozart we’ve seen in recent weeks. After some intense pressure, van Persie swung in a corner kick that was within Fulop’s range but he chose to flap at the ball towards Koscielny’s direction, that wasted no time in flicking it home.
Wenger brought on reinforcements in the form of Kieran Gibbs and Aaron Ramsey but the home side looked more likely to score a goal with every attack they launched. Keith Andrews let one rip from some distance but Szczesny was equal to the challenge.
The fact that Jermaine Defoe made it two for Tottenham increased the pressure in my blood and certainly some Arsenal fans out there. Last week, we were in a familiar situation where Benayoun scored early, only for the opposition to score two. We pegged them back and got the lead only to surrender it late on.
An epic moment arrived when the tension was unbearable, even for a manager with an elephant’s skin, Arsene Wenger.
The words uttered by Major D’Sun shortly afterwards are certainly worth sharing:
“It finally got to him (Wenger), this job is not easy. If people did not die from heart attack today, whoever that discovered football needs to be blessed.”
“I hope we have learned our lessons and I don’t want to be put through this kind of tension again”
Late on, Koscielny put his body in the line to block a tackle but the key moment of the day belonged to Kieran Gibbs, that gave everything in him to block a goal-bound shot. The sound of the final whistle was like music to my ears, Arsenal had their destiny in their own hands and they fulfilled it.
Szczesny (7.0) put up a good shift despite a disappointing first half. I also learned that he was nursing a shoulder injury for weeks but he had made himself available courtesy of pain killers.
Jenkinson (7.0) sent a boatload of crosses into the opposition area but he sent chills down my spine with his shirt tugging antics in Arsenal’s box.
Andre Santos (7.5) supported the attack well and had a well-taken goal.
Vermaelen (6.5) was caught out of position for both goals. In as much as I love the Verminator, he needs to improve on his positioning next season.
Koscielny (8.0) covered Vermaelen’s tracks, scored the match winner and made an absolutely important block late on.
Coquelin (6.5) was a bit sloppy in midfield but he held the fort well.
Song (7.5) enjoyed the free role he was assigned too and distributed great passes as well.
Rosicky (6.5) lacked his usual spark.
Gervinho (6.0) pressed and probed but offered nothing in the final third.
Benayoun (7.5) showed his determination in getting Arsenal’s first goal and used his versatility to great effect in the second half.
van Persie (6.5) didn’t get on the score sheet but he held up play well.
Walcott (6.5) added to some wit to Arsenal’s attack.
Gibbs (8.0) will be forever remembered for the tackle that saved Arsenal’s season.
Ramsey (6.5) didn’t put a wrong foot after coming in.
Martin Fulop also deserves a honorable mention for a 10.0 performance against Arsenal. If you take out the “U” in his name, a new word would certainly be formed.
While Manchester City had the last laugh for their stellar performances all season long, the balance was restored in other positions as Arsenal secured what might be an automatic Champions League spot or a Champions League play-off spot.
A few months back, Rafael van der Fart opened his pile hole to say that he’s confident that Tottenham will finish above Arsenal. Despite the fact that I gave 11 reasons why Tottenham can never finish above Arsenal, here are a few more points for van der Vaart and those 5pur2 out there:
- Arsenal made its worst start in 58 years
- Arsenal sold last season’s most influential player
- Arsenal sold its homesick captain
- Arsenal lost its most promising player to an ankle injury for the entire season
- Arsenal lost 8-2 to Manchester United
- Arsenal didn’t win any league game in January 2012
- Arsenal suffered a mysterious injury crisis that saw the team lose all recognized fullbacks for a month
- Arsenal were 10 points behind Tottenham before the North London Derby.
Despite all these shortcomings, the Gunners still finished above Tottenham.
In all my years as an Arsenal fan, I’ve never seen the Gunners finish below the Spurs.
I’ve also been very confident with this assessment to the stage that I’m still in the opinion that if Arsenal ever ends up in 17th place, Tottenham will get relegated.
Happy St. Totteringham’s day.
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