Let me just start off by saying that I’m so glad I put Nicklas Bendtner in my fantasy premier league team this week. So often dismissed as an arrogant egotist, he’s showed real ability in this past week, netting a hat trick against Porto and scoring the late winner in this morning’s game. I believe my cynicism has been well documented, and well justified. However, it is starting to look more and more likely that I’ll eat my words.
The last ten minutes of the game against Hull reminded me of Manchester United. Their movement, sense of urgency, it resembled a United movement I like to call it. There was real intent to claim the 3 points, and while I disagreed with the substitutions Wenger had made, I was relieved that Denilson took that shot. He is possibly the only one, besides Arshavin, who would try from such a distance and actually test Myhill. And by resembling United, I mean they resemble champions.
Of course, taking into account that Hull was playing the entire second half with ten men, Arsenal probably should have finished them off sooner. Then again, Hull never should have had that penalty. And that brings me to my main problem. The pitch.
Firstly, the pitch looked utterly abysmal. Arsenal simply couldn’t play their passing game. The ball couldn’t travel fast or straight enough on the pitch. Secondly, I have a niggling suspicion that the addition lines on the pitch contributed to the amount of offsides missed by the linesman. The lines, and also the bad pitch, are remnants of the recent rugby league, and my theory is that it made the linesmen lazy. It served, at times, as a marker, and at times as a distraction. I’m not a big fan of last night’s referee either. Arsenal had 2 penalty appeals turned down in the first half. The first, I contend, wasn’t all that obvious. Nicklas Bendtner was sandwiched by two Hull players, and there could’ve been a hand to his face as he went down. But the second makes me scratch my head. Clichy is tripped in the area by a Hull defender. Anywhere on the pitch, that would’ve been a freekick. Credit duly given to Clichy for getting up right away.
Overall, it was a great game. It had everything: Goals, misses, injuries, bookings, a sending off, refereeing mistakes. Arsenal have clearly demonstrated their desire to win and their ability to do so. Before the game, Football Channel pundit Carlton Palmer said that he had no doubt that Arsenal would win the league. While I don’t share his confidence, it is looking increasingly plausible.