Held to A Draw
Arsenal travelled to St Andrews to face Birmingham City on an average English afternoon. For some it was just another match, for Eduardo Da Silva, It was revisiting the ground that put him out of action for a long spell, after a Martin Taylor challenge gave Eduardo a serious injury back in 2008, to which Taylor [now playing for Watford] was shown a straight red. Unfortunately for the Brazillian born Croation International, he would not get his chance to play.
It was clear that Arsene Wenger was to stick to his guns in that he would not rest key players, and fielded a strong line up as follows:
Almunia(1), Sagna(3), Campbell(31), Song(17), Clichy(22), Diaby(2), Fabregas(4), Denilson(15), Walcott(14), Bendtner(52), Rosicky(7)
The first half was a dim 45 minutes fromboth teams, having only two shots on target each. However, It was Arsenal that worked the opposing teams goalkeeper hardest, making him make 5 saves in total for the first half, whereas Almunia only had to make 2 fairly easy saves.
It was also Arsenal who marginally had more off the ball, with 52% possession. The home side were the team happiest at the interval, after Joe Hart’s performance earned them a first half clean sheet. Arsenal on the other hand will have not been best pleased with their efforts, as they were unable to find the back of the net. Arsenal duo, Alexandre Song and Gael Clichy were both booked for unsporting behaviour.
Birmingham’s Craig Gardener had a chance to open the scoring after just 9 minutes, however his attempt flew over the bar. Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna let fire from 20 yards out, only to have his shot blocked by Scott Dann.
Arsenal were given a chance to break the deadlock after just over a quarter of the game had been played, from a Cesc Fabregas corner kick, but Campbell’s header passed over the top off the bar. Clichy was next to test the goalkeeper for the visiting team, from 20 yards out, however, Joe Hart made a comfortable save, hoping they continue to come at him like that.
Shortly after this Birmingham had a chance of their own through James McFadden, from approximately 20 yards out, however Manuel Almunia was able to make the save and hold on to it. Shortly after Birmingham were on the attack again and it was perhaps the home team’s Jerome who had the best opportunity of the half, with a strong right footer from around 25 yards out, Unfortunately for the striker, he saw his shot tipped the other side of the post from the Arsenal number 1. As the 40 minute mark approached, Arsenal’s England International, Theo Walcott, tried his luck from 20 yards out, but it was a fairly comfortable save for the on loan Hart. This wasn’t to be the last attempt off the half after Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky, who tested the goalkeeper from 30 yards out in stoppage time but it was the keeper who came out on top.
Along came the second half and it was Birmingham City who were again maybe too enthusiatic after Roger Johnson earned them their 4th offside off the match before the 49 minute mark. Birmigham were soon on the attack again though, with Craig Gardener putting in the ball into the box, only to see Almunia come to comfortably claim it.
The 53 minute mark was approaching and this time, It was Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner who was caught in an offside position. Arsenal’s first chance in the second half came from midfielder ‘Diaby who struck a right footer near the edge off the box, only for Arsenal’s efforts to be denied once more. Roger Johnson almost gave the home fans bragging rights, only for his shot to rebound off the post.
With just over 20 minutes of the game remaining, Arsenal started to get desperate and Wenger used a much needed double substitution, bringing on Samir Nasri and Andrey Arshavin in place of Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky. It appeared to be a stroke of genius from the Frenchman as Arsenal were now beginning to get on the ball more again and making more chances for themselves, but could not produce the end product they sought.
10 minutes were left on the clock and the away supporters tension could have been cut with a knife, praying Birmingham wouldn’t end up being a hurdle Arsenal would fail to overcome when suddenly, substitute Samir Nasri unleashed a thunder bolt from 20 yards out, which saw Joe Hart beaten for the first time of the afternoon after the ball reached the left corner of the goal.
1-0 to the Arsenal, as the old chant reads. Arsenal were not to rest on their laurels’ and were immediately hunting for more goals.
The home side were not to give up fighting and rescued a point in injury time through veteran Kevin Phillips. A dagger through Arsenal hearts.
Full Time: 1-1
Arsenal who looked to be leaving St Andrews with all 3 points, Now leave with just a meer 1 point, meaning the rest of the run in is vital for them to bag the remaining 18 points on offer, if they are to take the Barclay’s Premier League Trophy from challengers Chelsea and current holders Manchester United.
Full Time Match Stats:
Birmingham City 1-1 Arsenal
Shots On Target 8
Yellow Cards 2
Red Cards 0
Shots On Target 3
Yellow Cards 3
Red Cards 0
The Daily Cannon