So, 4 points clear of the chasing pack with just 3 games remaining before Xmas – in the grand scheme of things, and with the players we had missing, last night’s draw should be considered a point gained rather than two lost.
But you have to wonder if the outcome would’ve been different had we had the creative flair of a Cesc or Hleb in there, and you also wonder just how long we can keep forcing results with a second choice midfield and so reliant on the goals of Adebayor. His goal last night was a thing of real beauty, an exquisite finish from a confident man. But his partnership with Eduardo just didn’t work. The Croatian is clearly a top quality footballer, but you just feel that he needs to play alongside a striker who gives a bit more thought to his actions than Ade does – trying to second guess what the Togo man is going to do next is not what Eduardo is all about, and he struggled. The ineffective pairing reached their nadir when both men were highly culpable for the concession of the equaliser. The return of at least one of Cesc or Hleb, together with RVP up top, is almost a must going into the Chelsea match.
And so onto the Geordies. Quite frankly, I find their whole attitude a little bit disrespectful. Generally poor and lacking spirit throughout the season to date, and no more so than in the past month or so, all of a sudden they come out with their best performance in quite some time, probably going back to last season. So it’s clear that they can do it, they’ve obviously just not been putting that little bit extra effort in on a regular basis. For me, that’s unforgiveable, and although the supporters (best in the world according to the once again magnificently anti-Arsenal Sky Sports) will obviously be delighted with last night’s match, I am sure there will be some who will be wondering just why on Earth they can’t perform like that every week. Big club? I don’t think so. Badly run from top to bottom, and outperformed by their smaller rivals Boro in terms of challenging for silverware for many years now – a damning indictment on the state of things at St James’s Park, I’m sure you’ll agree.
That leads me nicely onto the Boro game at the weekend. We have a mixed record up there, either blowing them out of the water with a deluge of goals, or limping to some miserable defeats. It’s a team that has real problems scoring goals, so we can afford to be patient, maintaining possession and looking for openings while they sit back. Unlike last night, an early goal against Boro should see them crumble and lead us onto a comfortable victory. If we are still without the aforementioned three players, I’d like to see Bendtner up front with Adebayor. He’s a big lump and a real handful, but he also plays ‘the Arsenal way’ and rarely wastes a pass. I feel he could make a difference and provide the link with the midfield that is missing when Cesc and Hleb are not around. This is a match where anything other than a victory would most certainly be considered ‘points dropped’.