Thursday, January 20, 2011

Leeds 1-3 Arsenal: the Quadruple Dream Lives On

Wenger put out a strong team. Sagna back, looking fresh, demolished the Leeds left.

Nasri's well-taken goal settled any early nerves. Set up by Arshavin- busy early on, faded later. Maybe the lesson of the night overall was: if Fabregas does not play, Nasri must. He looks as important this season as the captain was last.

Chances came and went. Then Sagna got a deserved goal. He won the ball in his own half, bombed on. Bendtner miscontrolled in the box (!) and the hurried clearance fell to the Frenchman, whose shot had too much power for the otherwise excellent Schmeichel.

If that looked spectacular, better was to follow. At the wrong end.

Leeds had inconsequntial-looking possession in midfield when the ball was shuffled sideways to Bradley Johnson. His left-foot strike was as good as you'll see, rocketed right into the top corner of the net, and suddenly, without ever making a real chance, Leeds were back in the game.

The end of the first half and the start of the second held some hairy moments for Arsenal. After the break, Leeds started to press very high and disrupt Arsenal's passing. But by the time they had tired it was still 2-1. Sub David Somma missed their best chance, with his first touch.

Van Persie and Fabregas came on. The former killed the game with a back post header from Bendtner's measured cross. The latter annoyed the Leeds players by tippy-tappying around midfield and generally taking the piss. Took a few kicks for his troubles.

The fact that this win, which ought to be expected, has been so well-received shows the level of mistrust that goes with supporting Arsenal these days. But it bodes pretty well nonetheless, because as much as I obsess over the perceived inability to beat major rivals, what has threatened to derail Arsenal's season is the tendency to underestimate lesser sides.

The attitude against Leeds was right. So was the result. For talented teams, one usually follows the other.

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