No time for coffee for Mr. Wenger as the fixtures pile up.

Disappointing draw, or the perfect plug, that is the question. For yesterday’s drudgery in Leytonstone not only resulted in yet another fixture added to Mr. Wenger’s calendar, but a complete justification of my work in the latest issue of The Gooner Fanzine. For a more in depth analysis of the overall failings of this Arsenal second string, see my article entitled ‘The B Team’ on pages 23 & 24 of the fanzine. For a general tirade and gesture of exasperation, continue reading.

It wasn’t so much the result which was the disappointing thing yesterday, but as ever, the way in which it occurred. In the immediate aftermath of Tehoue’s late strike, the plaudits gushed Orient’s way. This is apt, as the tag of underdogs has, does and will forever result in their triumph being lauded unabashedly. Though in reality, this was not the valiant performance one would have expected from a perceived ‘inferior’ opposition, playing at home in a London derby. Rather than hassle and harry, Orient stood off our yellow-clad group of idle underachievers, and seemed content with merely sharing the same pitch. Instead of play for set-pieces and bombard a suspect Squllaci, inexperienced Miquel and flappable Almunia, the O’s patiently tried to outwit Arsenal, before agreeing to reassume their role in this pantomime of attack vs defence.

As expected, Arsenal dominated possession, and were able to create a number of useful opportunities, largely down to the wily attacking verve of Andrei Arshavin. Fresh from consigning himself to the Arsenal history books with THAT goal on wednesday eve, Arshavin looked the player who could once have been seen tearing up teams around Europe for Russia, Zenit, and sporadically, Arsenal. Though what has now become a pressing concern for most Gooners, the arrogant disinterest shown by Nicklas Bendtner and complete ineffectiveness of Denilson, helped to nullify any threat created by the more lively members of the team. Not much more can be said about this ailing pair to be honest. Far from pedantically picking the bones in an otherwise impressive squad, the way in which these two, Eboue and anyone of a number of french Centre-halves have been so glaringly suspect for many years is now becoming tiresome rather than concerning. Bendtner, mate, feel free to go skiing. We really couldn’t care less, because for every slow-motion step-over you attempt or pinball touch, you could instead be whizzing down those slopes, the wind in your hair and with my blood-pressure back to normal. Consider it.

Chamakh, back from a lengthy spell in the shadows after allegedly suffering from fatigue, had the best of the first-half chances. First looping a relatively harmless header into the arms of the Orient keeper, then having a low effort comfortably saved, and finally missing a presentable opportunity after good work by an otherwise disappointing Gibbs. Again Arshavin was the catalyst here, releasing the overlapping full-back, before he himself had a couple of decent efforts, two snap shots fired unsuccessfully at the Orient goal. When ESPN wasn’t showing snippets of the ‘lengths’ fans were willing to go to to watch their team, namely standing on their own balcony with a can of Stella, Orient also had a couple of decent half-chances themselves. Although no more than half-chances, as Charlie Daniels claimed the best of the bunch with a fierce drive that narrowly evaded Almunia’s top corner.

As Orient tired, and John Champion’s desire for an upset intensified, Arsenal continued to monopolize possession and the opening goal was inevitable if not a certainty. After a neat period of 20 or so passes from the visitors, Bendtner found Rosicky in his typically languid fashion, and the Czech flashed a header inside the far post. It was his first goal since that stunning come back against Bolton over a year ago. That day he grabbed the 1st of the 4 which overhauled a 2 goal deficit, and his goal yesterday was greeted with smiles all-round, and seemingly a cheeky comment from Arshavin, who received a gloved palm to the face for his troubles.

Despite going a goal down Orient didn’t discard their shackles until much later in the half, and Arsenal continued to dominate, with Rosicky having an excellent chance to grab an unlikely second after good work by Arshavin on the byline. Rosicky had two bites of the cherry, though both were fruitless. Arshavin went close too, rasping a fierce drive off the foot of the post from 20 or so yards. The introduction of french striker Jonathon Tehoue undoubtedly lifted his teammates, so much as to beg the question of why he wasn’t included from the start. The answer possibly lying in the fact that each one of the frenchman’s 8 goals this season have all come in the 85th minute or later. A remarkable stat that was added to with his late equaliser yesterday. His strike came minutes after Arsenal had apparently weathered any potential storm after Revell missed with two late efforts, the first bobbling wide, and the second cannoning off Squillaci’s face from close range. Tehoue made no mistake with his 89th minute shot however, yet it should have been saved by Almunia, and instead squirmed under his body. It reaffirmed the weakness of our once quasi-dependable goalkeeper, and ushered in the scoreline which underlined the overall deficiency’s of a far from capable back up XI. For the prequel to this match report, buy The Gooner on Wednesday evening.

(The Gooner fanzine costs £2 and can be bought at most entrances to the stadium’s concourse)


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