EPL 2007-2008: Arsenal 1 – Birmingham 1

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
January 13th, 2008 • 2:52 pm

I am afraid this was a thoroughly disappointing performance. Had it not been for a rather generous penalty, the Gunners would not have scored, and might have lost this game. Yet they are so obviously superior to this Birmingham team, and there can be very little excuse for dropping points at home like this, especially after so many first-team players were rested for both the first round of the FA Cup and the Carling Cup semi-final’s first leg.

It all started fairly brightly, with a Birmingham team that was far too respectful of the Gunners. But in truth very few real opportunities were created. It looked like the kind of game that Arsenal should easily win, but then they weren’t scoring, and there was always a risk. When the referee awarded a penalty, it was in fact rather generous, although a fair reflection of the Gunners’ dominance. The Birmingham keeper almost stopped it, but not quite, and Adebayor got his 13th of the season in the league.

The real trouble started in the second half, with our vulnerability on set pieces yet again in evidence, and a very poor goal conceded. Yet there was still tons of time to restore the balance and regain the advantage. Sadly, the Gunners were never able to really threaten, and it all ended very disappointingly.

I am afraid that when the central midfield is not hitting top form with pinpoint straight passes, we really need wide players that can deliver killer crosses, and in that respect Theo Walcott simply is not good enough at this point. Hleb is too central too, and although his fancy footwork was very much in evidence again, it was a return to the more sterile displays of last season.

Meanwhile, Manchester United clearly had no qualms about putting six goals past managerless Newcastle, and based on this week-end’s displays, there is little doubt about who will win the league this year.

Fortunately, there is still ample time to make amends, and the Gunners are still level on points with Manchester United, albeit with a significantly lower goal difference. That said, Chelsea are not far behind and no further slip-ups can really be afforded.

I would tend to agree with other bloggers that, at this point, what the team needs most is some width in midfield, to make up for the relative loss of form in the center. I sincerely hope that Fábregas, Flamini and Hleb can regain some of their sparkling form of earlier in the season, but the team needs some alternatives when things do not go quite right. Will Arsène splurge or be content with what he has? I guess we’ll see.

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