Arsenal (2) 4 - 0 (0) Charlton Athletic|
Ashburton Grove, Tuesday 2nd January 2007
Hoyte Toure Senderos Clichy
Hleb Gilberto (Flamini 70) Cesc (Denilson 82) Rosicky (Aliadiere 77)
Henry van Persie
A fine result and a good way to bounce back from the appalling
display that lost to Sheffield United the other day. Maybe we will
be ready for the Liverpool cup double-header coming up in the
next week, after all. The presence
of the returning skipper Thierry Henry, even if he wasn't quite
up to normal speed, clearly made a difference.
But no-one can pretend that a win over Charlton Athletic means
a huge amount, not right now. They may have had a couple of relatively
decent results since getting shot of Les Reed, but there was nothing
at the Arsenal stadium tonight to suggest that Charlton have what it
takes to survive. On this showing they'll finish bottom, no trouble.
They did have the first effort, in the first minute. So perhaps it
could have been different (nah). Rommedahl's early strike from
the left corner of the box may have been a cross or a shot... it
went out beyond the far post, too far ahead of Bent for him to
get onto it. Half a minute later, a fine long-range effort from
Gilberto floated a foot and a half outside the top left corner of
the Addicks' goal.
Tomas Rosicky got crunched twice in the same attempted build-up, with
no foul given. Then on 10 minutes we had a flurry of activity that
could have seen us open the scoring twice. We won a corner when
Robin van Persie's shot from the D deflected just wide. Philippe Senderos
got in front of a defender on the near side of the box, and headed
goalwards only to see Hughes clear it off the line. The ball was cleared
but then won back by Gilberto with a stupendous sliding tackle out on
our left wing. We played it back towards the box on the right and
Rosicky slipped a pass into the box for Cesc Fabregas to get onto and
force Scott Carson into a superb instinctive save.
On 13 minutes Cesc floated a diagonal cross into the box for Henry,
who got in front of his marker to direct a downward header past Carson
from the penalty spot, but it hit the foot of the right post and
went out for a goal kick.
Then there was a very brief bit of pressure from the visitors.
It started with a poor ball out of defence from us (not sure who)
which led to a deep cross from the left which was probably heading out
eyond the far post but Kolo Toure had to help it to be sure. A
couple more corners, a couple of scrambles in our box, cleared both
times by Cesc, and before long things were back to normal.
Still, it took another 15 minutes for the breakthrough to come.
Cesc tried a shot from the edge of the D which was charged down
at close range. The ball spun high up in the air and looked to
be coming down just under the crossbar. From the other end of the
ground it looked like Carson did pretty well to get back and make the
save. Bu the keeper couldn't tip it over the bar. Instead, the ball hit the
bar and fell loose in front of him and van Persie had
followed the shot in just in case. Osei Sankofa pulled him down
and both the penalty and the sending off were a formality. Henry
took the spot-kick and sent it low to the left, before running to
the side-lines to celebrate by dancing with Emmanuel Adebayor
(whose flat cap was enough to make some fans near me think it
was Ian Wright!).
The closest we came to extending it was an Henry free kick which
Carson did well to tip over the bar, until injury time when
Justin Hoyte made it two. And what a nice way to open your
Arsenal account. Hoyte brought the ball in from te right wing,
got to the right edge of the box where he passed diagonally and
centrally, back a few yards to Henry. Hoyte continued his run,
between 2 defenders who I guess were understandably undecided as
to whether Henry himself was the main threat, and into the right
side of the box. Henry completed the one-two with a return ball
which Hoyte took in his stride, taking the ball close to the
goal-line before stroking it past the outrushing keeper and
inside the far post.
In the first minute of the second half, Rosicky sent a nice ball
into the box for van Persie to run onto, but Carson did well to
rush out and get to the ball at the Dutchman's feet.
Senderos gave the ball away and Darren Ambrose went on a
good run, ending with a shot which was easy for Jens Lehmann.
A nice Arsenal move ended with Rosicky picking up a pass from
Henry as he came into the box on the right, and hitting a low
shot which clipped the outside of the far post.
Alexander Hleb, who had been mostly upstaged by Rosicky so
far, went on a terrific run into the box and squared for
Henry to pop the ball into the empty net. The linesman
gave it offside but he was wrong - Henry had been behind the
ball when Hleb passed it.
Then it was van Persie's turn to go on a mazy run into the box,
he left Carson floundering as he also laid the ball on for
Henry, and this time it was a defender who made a great
stop on the line to deny him.
Before long it was Carson again keeping us out, first with a
save from Rosicky (sent clear by Cesc), then an easy save from
a difficult Cesc half-volley which went straight at him
(the ball having been craftily lifted over the defence by Henry).
Nearly halfway through the second half now, and a great move
from wing to wing, ending with Hleb on the right who cut the
ball back for Henry on the far side. He tried to place the
ball softly through a fairly crowded box, but placed it
right at Carson for one of his easier saves. A couple of minutes
later Henry tested him more (after again being
set up by Hleb) with a classic opening of the body
on the left and a far post shot which Carson had to stretch
for. You can hardly
say Carson kept them in it, but he certainly made a difference
to the score-line.
Mathieu Flamini came on for Gilberto - getting a well-earned
rest having been unable, as vice-captain, to get much of one while
Henry was out. A few minutes later Henry was pulled over in
the box for another stonewall penalty, and this time it was
van Persie's turn - with a high shot to the right.
Jeremie Aliadiere came on for Rosicky, and looked alright
Rosicky had been taking the corners from the right instead
of Henry (and if Henry's absence has only helped us find
someone else to take these then it will have been worth it).
With Rosicky off, the duty fell to Henry again, and he took
an interesting one - passing towards Kolo Toure as the
defender charged towards him from the corner of the box. Instead
of collecting it Kolo
spun round to follow the ball infield, then brought it in a bit
more and hit a great shot which went out just beyond the far
post, taking a slight deflection on the way.
With 8 minutes left Denilson came on for Cesc, and with
one minute left van Persie doubled his tally to finish the
scoring. It was a delightful finish, pouncing onto Flamini's
ball into the box and lifting the ball over Carson at close range
as the keeper came to meet him. Carson nearly kept this one out too,
getting a hand to it but not enough to stop the ball
heading goalwards, or to slow it down enough to allow the
defender coming in at the goal-line to clear.
up to 4th, a point behind Liverpool as both sides take a break
from the league to try to put each other out of both domestic