Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Arsenal 3 - Newcastle 0 (Adebayor 40', Flamini 72', Fabregas 80')

Flamini steals the show

Midfield enforcers are typically the type of working horses who do the dirty work of keeping impending threats from reaching the back four line - and, in the process, reaping skyrocketing foul numbers, yellow cards and the undying ire of the opposing fans.

Well, last night we may have witnessed the true arrival of Flamini as a new type of midfield enforcer. Yes, he still does the grunt work of shutting down the other team's passing channels and giving their midfielders little to no time on the ball. But what Flamini did last night (and will hopefully keep doing the rest of the season) is emerge as the second link-up player, who inspired his linemates, demanded the ball and distributed it with an efficacy matched only by Fabregas. Last night, their partnership was sparkling (Fabregas put in his best performance in quite a while) and - just like that! - their names both appeared on the score sheet. Pure coincidence? Don't think so. Keep in mind that Diaby arguably had one of his best outings as well.

Back on top then - okay, maybe just for a few hours, but you would have to reasonably hope that we will at least make up some ground on goal differential this week.

Finally, the ratings:

Almunia - 7. A fairly easy outing, very alert on a couple of quick Michael Owen incursions behind our back line.
Sagna - 8. Very active offensively, a great performance.
Gallas - 8. The White Hart Lane demons are definitely behind him. Solid, captain-like performance.
Senderos - 7. Awkward as he may be at times (he certainly does not have the elegance of others) he is nowhere near the clumsy defender that pundits make him out to be. More confident with every game.
Clichy - 7. Tireless and linking very well with Diaby throughout the game.
Hleb - 7. Typically sound performance, he seemed to truly enjoy himself last night.
Fabregas - 8. Inspired by his central midfield partner, he was truly electric.
Flamini - 9. Why not 10? I really don't know.
Diaby - 7. One of these days, another one of his cannonballs (see goal 1 in the Sunderland game) will spectacularly hit the net.
Adebayor - 8. The only question remains - can he maintain this run of form for the remainder of the season? He is certainly peaking at the right time.
Eduardo - 6. His confidence still rising, he is much more mobile than he used to be (as opposed to just waiting for service from the midfield) He is certainly starting to "feel" the Gunners' game...

Till Saturday.

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