18 March 2006

Arsenal 3-0 Charlton

A bit of an exhibition for Arsenal. Arsenal were in control throughout. Charlton looked to have little attack threat, while Arsenal were constantly threatening the goal. The statistics are a bit flattering to Charlton -- it's hard to believe that they actually held 44% of the posession, and I can't remember their one shot on goal. Arsenal were less dangerous in the latter part of the game, but only because they brought on three subs, and because they were looking for the 'right' goal, creating opportunities for first Bergkamp and then Toure.

So all around, a fine performance for the boys. None of the Gunners had a bad game, though Henry was uninvolved for much of the play. Hleb and Pires both had great games, and I think this improved wide play has been one of the major factors in Arsenal's resurgence. It takes the load off the spine of the team; in particular, it reduces the need for Gilberto to attempt aggressive passes. And it provides protection for the inexperienced fullbacks. In any event, Arsenal look as threatening and creative as ever, and it's good to see.

The win was crucial, as the rest of Arsenal's competitors for European spots also took three points: Birmingham 0-2 Tottenham, Blackburn 3-2 Boro, and Bolton 2-0 Sunderland. Of course, Birmingham and Sunderland are in the relegation zone, while Boro isn't far from it (and had the Roma match during the week). So no surprise on the wins. Still, Arsenal needed to keep pace, and did so easily.

Next weekend could be a bit of a challenge, as Arsenal travel to Fratton Park to take on Portsmouth. Pompey have won their last two and look to ignite a fight-back from relegation. Arsenal must keep their belief and get ahead early next Saturday. Again their rivals will have bottom-feeder opposition: Blackburn visit Sunderland, Bolton visit Boro, and Spurs host West Brom. So, another must-win weekend. But today's performance was custom-made for building hope. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!

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