This is a dirty player Hansen and Dixon, okay?I think that's what you call a hard-fought three points. I've managed to see Match of the Day and Football First for the highlights from last night, and it seems obvious that Lukasz Fabianski was a different man from Sunday. It's interesting how television (even viewed live) gives a completely different impression of the game from actually being there. I've seen a number of people online stating that they felt Chamakh did little aside from the goals - all of these people watched the game on the box. My brother and Dad, who were actually there (as I would have been had Sky not cocked about with the Newcastle game, causing this one to go back 24 hours) both told me the Moroccan was our best player. Since the start of the season I have been impressed by Chamakh (you might have noticed) and my family were effusive in praising his work-rate again last night. As Arsene Wenger insists on the formation we play Chamakh's non-stop running and harrying is vital to its success. The first goal showed, again, that if only Arsenal players could get the ball on his head, he will find the back of the net. It was a fabulous ball by Song, and a bullet header from Marouane. His second goal showed a finesse in front of goal that has been largely absent. As free transfers go, he is proving to be one of the signings of the season.
The work of Fabianski has gained particular praise in every quarter today, and to see him not lacking in confidence following his error on Sunday is encouraging. I would suggest that most of the saves he made last night were relatively straightforward - the sort that look a good save if it's kept out, or a howler if it's not. The final save he made though, which led directly to the second goal was outstanding. To get down so low to his weaker side and hold the ball the way he did showed that he does have some genuine quality, if only the cock-ups can be eradicated. I said after the game on Sunday that a top goalkeeper wins you points, whilst a mediocre one costs them. In the space of three days we've seen both sides of the coin from Fabianski - I really hope he can perform like he did last night week-in, week-out.
Having not seen the whole game I can't say a great deal more about any individuals. Suffice to say it was a crucial win following recent events, despite not playing especially convincingly. Another big game away from home on Sunday at Everton will be even more difficult, and a genuine test of any lingering Championship pretensions.
I watched Match of the Day last night in complete disbelief. According to Alan Hansen, Michael Essien's two-footed stamp shouldn't really be a red card, and his sending-off was merely a symptom of the namby-pamby football age we have entered. Unbelievable. I was glad Lee Dixon stuck to his guns and told Hansen what he thought. Oh, how things would change later in the show. When they showed Cesc Fabregas get booked I realised immediately that they were going to make something of it when analysing the match. I thought it was disgraceful when Hansen started claiming that Fabregas' tackle was a red card offence. I was utterly disgusted when Lee Dixon agreed with him. Let's get this straight, Lee Dixon is an Arsenal legend, and Alan Hansen is a Liverpool legend. The difference is that Hansen would never allow anyone to slag a Liverpool player. Lee Dixon disgraced himself last night, and I have lost a great deal of respect for him - he is clearly now a media man, and certainly not an Arsenal man (you'd never have got someone like Frank McLintock talking such crap on TV about an Arsenal player). The foul by Cesc was a late tackle, nothing more. His eyes were on the ball and he caught the defender as he cleared the ball, a split-second before Fabregas' challenge arrived. It wasn't high, and it wasn't malicious. I don't pay my licence fee to hear such crap being spouted, but it is a regular feature on Match of the Day, I'm afraid. As I've said, I didn't see the game live, so I was unaware until this morning of Karl Henry's latest attempt to disfigure an opponent. I've since seen the studs-up, over the top of the ball challenge on Arshavin. I've mentioned Karl Henry on here a lot since the start of the season (and I really shouldn't have to as he is a talentless clogger who should have no place on a football pitch). Somehow Arshavin got away without a serious injury. That Match of the Day should choose not to show this, and then lambast Fabregas is a disgrace. I was even more dumbfounded to find the same kind of reportage in the paper this morning. You begin to realise when you put it all together that there is a media conspiracy to report in this way. It strikes me that the assorted hacks got together in the press room to come up with this crap. I have asked the reporter from The Sun (a Spurs fan) for his comments on that, but I'm still waiting for a reply.
Wojciech Sczeszny has signed a long-term deal at Arsenal. I really thought he was going to be leaving next Summer, with no chance of him signing a new deal. This has come as a really pleasant surprise. Arsene Wenger has said that the youngster is the future Arsenal Number One and he has clearly managed to convince Wojciech that is the case. We can begin to assume, I think, that Arsenal will not be signing a goalkeeper in January to be the new number one. Lukasz Fabianski is playing well (Sunday's mistake aside) and he now knows that he will have to continue doing so if he's to keep his place. We have some genuine competition in the goalkeeping position now - whether either of them is really of the required standard remains to be seen. I hope Sczeszny goes on to be the player many expect him to be. He certainly has the imposing physique of a goalkeeper, and carries well the arrogance required to play there - and that is something that Almunia and Fabianski certainly lack. Good luck to him.
Interesting business at Chelsea this afternoon with Ray Wilkins being booted out. I always used to like Ray Wilkins when I saw him on telly. I always felt he was a really nice guy, and that's why he failed as a Manager, though was pretty successful as a coach - a bit of a Don Howe, maybe. He was usually a very good pundit who analysed the game well and hid his Chelsea allegiances fairly well. As Chelsea became a successful club he failed to hide that bias more and more, and I began to get annoyed by his presence on my television screen. Since he's been back at Chelsea I've found him more and more irksome. He always seemed to appear for post-match interviews when Chelsea had stuffed some team or other, but was conspicuous by his absence when Scolari came out to explain another defeat (Carlo Ancelotti put a stop to this carry on when he arrived). Over the past couple of years I have noticed something else about Ray Wilkins. There is an episode of Porridge called "The Harder They Fall" where we get introduced to a character called Jackdaw, a lackey for Genial Harry Grout. When the group attend the prison boxing championships Jackdaw sits next to Grouty with a horrible, self-satisfied grin on his face. If you look at pictures of the Chelsea bench from the past 15 months or so you will see Jackdaw (Wilkins) sat next to Ancelotti with that same horrible look on his face - and it really has wound me up. Good riddance Ray, you've spoiled all the good feeling most of us had towards you (though I hope your departure upsets the Chelsea bandwagon!)
There won't be a post tomorrow. Sadly the devil farts in my face once more with another night shift tomorrow (and a horrible weather forecast). I'll preview the Everton game on Saturday when I get out of bed. Until then, keep yourself out of the dangerous winds if you can, and try and watch that episode of Porridge (it might be on Youtube).