R's Gunned Down
The R's traveled to the Emirates today to take on an out of sorts Arsenal side that have put in a few awful performances over the last week and seemingly were there for the taking.
The Lofty Heights gang traveled in optimism.
With me nursing an infected ankle, it was Luke who took control of the wheel and drove Jess, Sam, my cousin Matt (attending his second game in a row during his holiday over from Australia) and myself to Cockfosters tube station. As we exited our usual car park, due to it being full, we saw Jenson and Lofty in the all new Stadium Wireless car and found a new place to park, behind Cockfosters Cricket Club. As we took the short walk to the station we saw a few of the Arsenal Ladies Football Team parking in the same place, little did we know that they were going to be on the pitch at half time!
During our tube journey we were entertained by a person (I won't mention ethnicity) but he was tap dancing at the end of our carriage and then asked anyone to put any chance in what looked like a bag that he got from his shopping at the Pound Shop. One he finished he started begging for a cleaning job, luckily for us our stop at Arsenal arrived so we could escape without hearing another word.
We made our way to the ground and Sam waited Perry as we entered the ground to deal with our Pie Rating duties. More on that later.
Mark Hughes was forced into one change from last weeks draw against Everton.
Ji-Sung Park failed a late fitness test(thankfully!) and he was replaced by SWP.
Ryan Nelsen took over the duties as captain, finally a proper leader of men to organize us out on the pitch!
Lorna took her seat a few minutes into the game.
The first half started with Arsenal playing their usual patient style of play and just keeping the ball away from the R's midfield and it wasn't until the 4th minute that Rangers' actually managed to get hold of the ball and start to find their own rhythm in the game.
Arsenal rarely threatened and when they managed to break past Bosingwa, as all their play was coming down he Arsenal left, their cross was always into the arms of Cesar or floated high over Giroud.
Arsenal did begin to lightly pepper the R's goal but often found Cesar to tough to beat as the Brazilian set out to frustrate the silent home crowd.
Arsenal had their chance halfway through the half as yet another cross from the left found Giroud and his deft touch was parried out by Cesar before he threw a leg at the ball ad made a second clearance to keep his clean sheet in tact.
Rangers' had very few chances in the first half and were often left wanting a better final ball from Bosingwa or Wright-Phillips to the lonely Zamora awaiting in the box.
At half time we stayed in our seats rather than battling our way around the concourse. by this time our feet were like ice blocks and were doing anything we could t try and keep some warmth within us.
The second half started with the R's coming out all guns blazing and really started to get at and trouble the Arsenal defence.
There were a few close offside calls given against Hoilett and Zamora before Hoilett was seemingly harshly adjudged to of been offside when he looked level, before he controlled and coolly lifted the ball over Mannone's head and into the back of the net.
Shortly after the R's broke away with Hoilett, Taarabt and Zamora and carved open the Arsenal defence before Hoilett played Zamora clean through but for some reason Bobby has forgotten what offside is and ruined what would've been Rangers' best chance of going 1-0 up.
Arsenal slowly managed to get a foothold on the game in the midfield but were finding Ryan Nelson, Stepane M'Bia and Julio Cesar in unbeatable form.
With 10 minutes to go the R's had the self destruct button pressed.
M'Bia was shoved the floor by Vermaelen in the corner and the Cameroonian kicked out at the Belgian in an act that sums him up by his nickname, Le Penis!
This meant that we had to survive the final 15 minutes with 10 men, not something you want to do against an Arsenal side that are desperate for a win.
Low and behold with 6 minutes to go Arsenal took the lead, somewhat controversially!
Cesar made two fantastic saves, firstly from Olivier Giroud and then the following shot was parried before Arteta came from behind Cesar to head against the bar and then poked home the rebound from two yards out. Arteta is clearly offside when the ball is played on the rebounded shot but for some reason the linesman and referee have failed to do their jobs and have ended up putting the R's hopes of grabbing a point well and truly up the spout!
Take a look for yourselves.................
Rangers' had a late flurry at the end and in the final moments Mackie somehow powered his way through the Arsenal defence and prodded his shot straight at Mannone, a real chance to get the point the R's throughly deserved. From where I was sitting it seemed easier to square the ball to Cisse, but I will wait and see if it was possible on Match of the Day tonight.
Once again the R's were left cursing their luck as an offside goal has cost them dearly. However there is no excuse for M'Bia's stupid sending off. He had already won the foul and potentially gained a yellow card for Vermaelen, however we've ended up at a disadvantage despite having the free kick in our favour.
We need to take a few more risks going forward as we are very light going forwards and rarely hit any team with any counter attacks. Having Zamora up front on his own is leaving him very isolated and the support from Hoilett, Taarabt and SWP today was not quick enough. We need to have our attacking players breaking away at pace and threatening opposing defenders. I would love to see us play with Hoilett on the right, Taarabt on the left with Zamora playing just behind Cisse, this would create more of an attacking threat and when Diakite and Granero break forwards also it would give us more options to really do some damage.
The way things are going we need to make our own luck and not wait for it to come our way.
Man of the Match was an easy decision for us all today. Julio Cesar had an absolutely outstanding game and prevented Arsenal from scoring on many occasions, making three or four last ditch saves that were world class. A mention must go to Ryan Nelsen, who as stand in captain, was a rock at the heart of the R's defence and led the team forwards and kept us together as a unit. Park, if you are reading this, that is how you captain a team!!
- 33 Julio Cesar
- 03 Traore (Onuoha - 73' )
- 17 Nelsen
- 19 Bosingwa
- 02 Diakite
- 10 Taarabt Booked
- 11 Wright-Phillips (Mackie - 79' )
- 14 Granero Booked
- 40 M'bia Dismissed
- 23 Hoilett
- 25 Zamora (Cisse - 72' )
- 01 Green
- 05 Ferdinand
- 15 Onuoha
- 22 Ephraim
- 32 Faurlin
- 09 Cisse
- 12 Mackie
I mentioned earlier that we took to the kiosk and went for our usual pie treat and this is how the ratings look -
Lofty went for the Chicken Balti option and gave it a 6.8. Very crusty and a tad too salty.
Jenson went for the Peppered Steak pie and gave it a 7. Again very crusty and very salty.
I went for the Peppered Steak also and have given it a 5. Very crusty and more like a salty steak pie than a peppered steak. One of the worst for me this season.
This gives Arsenal a Pie Rating Average of 6.26.
I will return next week with the report from the game against the team I absolutely hate, Reading!