About Me

My photo
Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Lone Ranger

It was left to Robin Van Persie to again secure Arsenal three points with the much maligned Andrey Arshavin playing Tonto to the Dutchman's lone ranger by setting up the only goal of the game.
It was a contest that on the face of it had much in common with that played four days earlier here against Wolves but whereas in that game it was a superb goalkeeping performance that stopped a comfortable Arsenal win, on this occasion it was the Gunners' profligacy in front of goal that prevented a greater margin of victory.
The game opened with the opposition looking solidly set to do all they could to earn a goalless draw with a backline so deep they might as well have stayed in West London. This allowed the Dutchman sitting next to me to get on with sorting out his emails on his iPad, with Szczesny the only goalkeeper being called into action. Thus I was given time to ponder similar New Year clashes, with a mid 80s fixture between the two clubs when Ian Allinson was the unlikely star in a 3-1 win not looking favourite for a repeat. Instead it was a goalless draw at Elm Park when Huddersfield manager Neil Warnock celebrated as if he'd won promotion by holding the mighty Reading that seemed most likely to play out in front of me.
As the half drew on though Arsenal created a number of chances and should have converted at least one before half time, being unfortunate on a couple of occasions when Joey Barton cleared off the line and Matthew Connolly handled the ball without penalty in the box. Barton of course had earlier introduced himself by upending Mikel Arteta, going onto try and ensure he wasn't alone in the referee's book by rolling around on the turf whenever he was challenged.
With Aaron Ramsey pulling the strings Arsenal continued to dominate after the break but Theo Walcott lack of match fitness was reflected by the way he spurned the best chance of the game one on one with Cerny. QPR  were beginning to look like they might get something out of the game before shooting themselves in the foot when a misplaced pass from Shaun Wright-Phillips found Arshavin who fed Van Persie to score.
Aside from Gervinho missing a sitter it was a nervy finish from Arsenal with QPR raising the tension every time they attacked but the scoreline remained the same at the final whistle leaving Arsenal fans to scurry off down the Holloway Road to their New Year's Eve celebrations in the knowledge that at the halfway stage of the league season the Gunners had completed their comeback from a disastrous start to end 2011 in the top four.
The journey home was enlightened by a programme article about former Arsenal player Dave Bowen who holds two club records more noteworthy than the irrelevant one Van Persie broke with his goal. Firstly Bowen, along with Jack Kelsey, was the first Arsenal player to play in the World Cup Finals when he represented Wales in the 1958 tournament in Sweden. Secondly Bowen is the only Arsenal player to have a stand named after him, at Northampton's ground, the club he took from Fourth to First Division as manager in the 1960s.

No comments: