Lucky, Lucky Arsenal

Last updated : 25 April 2002 By Vinny Ryan
Repka: Man of the Match
Not really a surprise. I didn't expect anything out the match but I suppose it was disappointing not to hold on for the final 13 minutes. Class told in the end - and we didn't have it. A lot of huff and puff but nothing to show for it.

The day didn't start to well, when while at Kings Cross we were told that Arsenal station had been shut. As was Finsbury Park. So we got off at Holloway Road and walked it. Had a drink in the Draton Park pub which was full of West Ham singing and having a good time.

Got into the ground with about 10 mins to spare. The atmosphere was good; our fans were in full voice. But unfortunately the match had to start!

Roeder took a gamble on playing a different formation. Kanouté was back and he dropped Defoe to my amazement. Kanouté was up front on his own with Sinclair on the left and Archie on the right. Lomas, Cole and Carrick were in the middle. Winterburn kept his place at left back, Pearce at right back and Dailly/Repka at the back.

With less than 10 minutes gone Schemmel went down injured and had to be taken off. Vladimir Labant replaced him. This now meant that Sinclair went over to the right and Labant was on the left.

Arsenal had lots of possession but didn't do too much with it. Ljungberg had a shot which went wide and they had a few corners but nothing of serious note.

It was us who had the half's two best chances. Kanouté brought the ball down in the box and skipped past Adams and Keown but from a few yards out blazed his shot over the bar. I just couldn't believe that he had missed. He done everything correct but the finish was dreadful.

The best chance of the half and the major talking point in the match was the Freddie Kanouté 'goal' which was not given.

From where we were sitting it was impossible to see what had happened. We saw (I think it was) Lomas playing a ball into space for Freddie to run onto, he got past the challenge of Adams, rounded the keeper, shot into the empty net but somehow Ashley Cole got it off the line. I couldn't believe it. But to top it, we were then getting news that is had gone over the line by about a yard! I'm still yet to see it but I think that just proved that it wasn't going to be our night.

The trouble about those two chances was that we never had another one! We had a few corners but we are woeful at those. Maybe people will now realise that its not about the taker (i.e. di Canio) who should be getting the stick - its about who attacks them. And we are a team that lacks height. Carrick is tall - but there's no chance in hell that he is going to attempt to win a header.

So we got to half time 0-0.

It was pleasing that were weren't 1-0 down!

But I knew that things were going to change. And if we kept playing the way we were, then Arsenal were going to piss all over us. And they did try. But our defence was outstanding. Pearce, Dailly, Repka and Winterburn were very good. Cole, Carrick and Lomas - were totally out of their league. Which is understandable when they come up against Arsenal and Viera.

Labant was looking dodgy when attacked and there is still a question mark to whether he can fill Nige's boots.

We were frustrating Arsenal. They couldn't break us down up until the 77th minute it looked as though the Arse weren't going to make that breakthrough.

Roeder made another surprising decision when he took off the only man who was going to score - Kanouté and brought on Defoe. I must stress though that this was not the reason we lost. But there was no way we were going to get anything out the game with Kanouté not there. We had been playing the long ball game all throughout. Taking off Kanouté was saying we are going to try and get a 0-0.
A few minutes later Ljungberg scored. With no physical presence up front for us now, there was no hope in us getting anything. 3 minutes later and the arse got a second through Kanu who was unmarked in the box.

In a space of a few minutes we had crumbled. That was the most annoying thing. There was effort from the team no doubt - but Arsenal were too strong in the end.

Overall - disappointing to lose but you can't give teams like Arsenal time and space. We were not tight enough and we played the price.

It was our game in hand - so it wasn't that important. We worked hard. But didn't have the killer touches. Maybe worth a point although that is debateable.

Newcastle next - nice long journey - and I'm looking for three points.

James 7 - Not at fault for any of the goals. Kicking was good, made a few good catches and punches and commanded his area well.
Winterburn 7 - On his final appearance at Highbury he gave his all and done a good job. Defended soundly.
Repka 7 MOTM - Well in MY opinion he was our best player. He was solid and won mostly everything.
Dailly 7 - Like Repka he was solid and done his job well.
Pearce 7 - He looked good today. Got exposed a little when he was left to defend the right against two players at a time. This was due to Sinclair looking as though he couldn't be bothered.
Sinclair 6 - A bit lazy tonight. If it wasn't to his feet then he didn't want to know.
Lomas 6 - He's a trier. But he was way out of his league. Which is understandable.
Cole 6 - Not enough from Joey tonight. When he got the ball he looked as though he could do something. But he was rarely involved.
Carrick 6 - A let down after his last two performances. He gave the ball away countless number of times.
Schemmel - Came off in the early stages.
Kanouté 7 - Slag him all you want. In my eyes I thought he did fine tonight. On his own all through the game. No support yet he made himself two great opportunities. One he should of scored, the other he did.
Labant 6 (on for Schemmel) - Not great. Didn't do anything to help the team. A liability.
Defoe (on for Kanouté) - Was on for about 15 mins - did absolutely nothing at all.