The score line might as well have read Arsenal 1-1 Hennessey. The game was one that we have seen all too often in recent seasons. Arsenal dominated the game, kept most of the possession, but couldn't get the winning goal against the Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The game started off as well as we could have hoped for. Arsenal maintained possession and presented a constant threat in the final third. Gervinho ran onto an excellent ball from Benayoun, and finished after a nice cut away from Hennessey. The score was 1-0 to the Arsenal and the game appeared to be in the bag for the Gunners.
Throughout the first half, the Wolves presented sporadic threats to the Arsenal defense, but there was never a sense that they would capitalize. Against the run of play, however, Wolves did score on a set piece. The defense lost their focus for a second and Stephen Hunt's blocked shot met the head of Steven Fletcher, then dribbled in the net past Szczesny.
The second half began and Arsenal maintained their dominance in the game. There were chances, but none were met with the ball hitting the back of the net. Time after time, a final ball was missing, or Hennessey performed some of his miraculous saves. In the second half, he had some fantastic saves—most notably shots by van Persie and Mertesacker.
Seventy-five minutes into the game and Nenad Milijaš received a red card that in most instances would have only been a yellow. Poor refereeing by Stuart Atwell had changed the game in Arsenal's favor. Throughout the next quarter of an hour, they could not break the Wolves defense.
In the end, the game finished at 1-1 and it was very much a case of two points dropped at home.
While Arsenal should have won the game, there were some definite positives in the match. In the first half—and for parts of the second—Gervinho looked like a new man. His performance was sensational and he looked much more of a threat than in his last couple of games. His goal was well taken. Considering he has a knack for missing those kind of chances, it was a welcome relief to all the fans watching.
Alex Song is growing his confidence in each game he plays. Many people assume his role is only that of an anchor in the midfield to protect the defense, but it has evolved into much more for the team. With the presence of Arteta and Ramsey/Rosicky, Song has certainly taken on a more defensive role. He has also created of many Arsenal chances.
Song's passing game has come to rival that of his defensive prowess recently. We need only remember that it was his brilliant delivery that secured us a win against Everton and an assist to van Persie's beautiful volley.
Stuart Atwell remains useless. This isn't one of the positives—it's a negative in fact—but it worth noting. A cardboard cutout of Graham Poll would have performed better than Atwell. Once again, a referee has placed his stamp on a game when he shouldn't have.
The team dropped points today, but now the focus must be on the game against QPR. Arseblog made a good point after the game, tweeting, "Can't fault our effort, we had shots, dominated, but Hennessy made some amazing saves. Must beat QPR and Fulham now."
It was an unlucky result, but there is still room for Arsenal to improve in the standings once all is said and done in this winter period.
Those calling for Wenger's head seem to have quieted for the moment, and there is a new swagger about the Arsenal team. Losing to Manchester City 1-0 was indicative of the fact that the team was on a level playing field with the richest team in the world—only the opponents got a bit of luck and grabbed the winning goal.
Arsenal have dropped some points against lower teams, but things have turned around and they have the second half of the season to look forward to.
The league might look to be out of the question, but there is still a top-four finish up for grabs. One would love nothing more than to ensure Tottenham remains in the Europa League for another season (where they rightly belong, I might add).
Our draw against AC Milan was quite exciting, and they will not have forgotten what happened the last time we met in the San Siro. A third-round FA cup tie against Leeds also looks to be a game that we should win. With all of the matches coming up, things are shaping up for an exciting couple of months—if the results go our way.
For now, we can wait a few days, and then bring about the end of 2011 with a win against QPR.
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