Saturday, December 01, 2007
Aston Villa 1 - Arsenal 2
The Gunners picked up a crucial three points at Aston Villa today, in circumstances that bode well for their title chances in come May. The opponents were a good team (among the Premier League also-rans at least), playing well, and at home. Arsenal, OTOH, were struggling to get some players back from injury and have sometimes in years past have lost form in December, just when the fixture congestion starts. From a pessimist's point of view, this game had "dropped points" written all over it.
But it didn't happen that way. It's especially auspicious that the goals were not the typical Arsenal scores either, Mathieu Flamini with a drive from the edge of the box and Adebayor with a header. This is significant because the defense had lots of players in their area at the time (Adebayor was marked twice). Scoring goals like this will defeat the fortress mentality of many opponents.
The second half was scoreless. Truth be told Villa had the better of the game at that time. But as Arsenal fans know well, the winner of a football match is the team that scores the most goals, not necessarily the one that looks like the better side.
This is make or break time for the Gunners. A third of the season is in the books now. Another third of the season finishes in February. Arsenal will have to carry through the middle part of the season at less than full strength, due to injury and the African Nations Cup. If Arsenal can carry through this stretch with a bigger lead than they have now, they will win the League. We know that Arsenal have the talent to win, but do they have the perserverance?