Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Gunners Hit Four Past Addicks

Thierry Henry marked his Arsenal return to captain the Gunners against the Addicks, as Charlton Athletic’s new boss, Alan Pardew faced up to Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger again, following up from his Boleyn Ground bust up, when Pardew was manager of West Ham. Brazilian, Gilberto Silva, fired up the red and white attack early on, with an effort which flew narrowly over the upright. On eleven minutes, Arsenal stepped up the pressure, as Philippe Senderos’s flying header was nodded off the line by Souleymane Diawara, and the Gunners responded again as Cesc Fabregas’s shot from inside the penalty box, produced an acrobatic save by Scott Carson. Just before the quarter hour mark, Fabregas crossed the ball for Henry, and the French star’s glancing header hit the foot of the right hand post, as Charlton had to withstand a barrage of early Arsenal chances. On the half hour mark, Arsenal got the breakthrough, as Fabregas’s shot was tipped from under the crossbar by Carson, and as Robin Van Persie tried to follow up the rebound, he was hurled to the ground by Osei Sankofa, who was instantly red carded by referee, Mike Riley. Henry, marked his return, by burying his spot kick into the centre of the net, past a helpless Carson, and ran over to the bench for a celebration dance with Emmanuel Adebayor, and a high five with Arsene Wenger. Henry was back to his magical best, as making use of a foul from Diawara, he fired a long range free kick which was acrobatically tipped over the crossbar by Carson, with thirty nine minutes played. On the stroke of half time, Arsenal struck again, as Henry’s curling pass opened up the Charlton defence, and with the outside of his foot Justin Hoyte scored his first goal for Arsenal, as he bent the ball around Carson, into the bottom right hand corner. Charlton again had their backs to the wall, straight from the start of the second half, as Henry’s through ball put Van Persie in the clear, and it took brave goal keeping by Carson, to stop the Dutchman in his tracks. Henry’s build up play set up Tomas Rosicky, in the fifty eighth minute, who from outside the penalty box, fired a low shot against the bottom of the left hand post. Henry continued to cause havoc, and after scoring from close range, had his effort ruled offside. Carson’s outstretched leg blocked Rosicky’s shot from inside the penalty box in the sixty third minute, as Arsenal continued to press forward. A neat lay off by Alexander Hleb to Henry, produced a heroic stop by Carson, who dived at full stretch to his right, turning Henry’s shot around the right hand post, five minutes later. On seventy five minutes, Van Persie broke open the Charlton defence and Henry had his shirt tugged by Diawara, giving Arsenal another penalty. This time, Van Persie stepped up, and fired his spot kick, into the top right hand corner. Arsenal made it four on the stroke of full time, as Mathieu Flamini, clipped a pass over the top of the Charlton defence, and Van Persie chipped the ball over Carson, to round off a comprehensive Gunners victory and leave Charlton languishing near the bottom of the table

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cottagers and Blues draw West London Derby

Chelsea dropped valuable points at home in their Championship quest, as they were held by West London neighbours, Fulham. The Blues started brightly on two minutes, as Salamon Kalou’s approach play opened up the Cottagers, and Michael Essien’s sliding shot went narrowly wide of Antti Niemi’s right hand post. A minute later, Essien went close again, as his long range shot was palmed away by Niemi, after Didier Drogba had calved open the Fulham defence. Against the run of play, a mistake by Geremi was pounced upon by Moritz Volz, who shot the ball through Paulo Ferreira’s legs, and past Henrique Hilario, into the centre of the net, to give Fulham the lead in the West London Derby, on seventeen minutes. Wayne Routledge wasted a golden opportunity to increase the Fulham advantage, as he side footed over the crossbar, with a clear sight of goal, five minutes later. But the Blues pressure finally paid off, as club captain, Frank Lampard fired a low fierce shot from outside the penalty box, and with a kindly deflection off Liam Rosenior, the ball nestled into the bottom left hand corner, ten minutes before half time. Two minutes after the break, a point blank one handed save by Hilario, kept out Brian McBride’s deflected header off Geremi, as Chelsea had a lucky escape. With sixty one minutes on the clock, Didier Drogba, headed home from close range, as the inform Chelsea striker, latched onto Lampard’s pin point accurate cross, to put the Blues in front. Hilario fumbled Franck Queudrue’s cross, and Routledge miss cued at an open goal, as Carvalho came to Chelsea’s rescue, as a rear guard defender on the right hand post, on seventy six minutes. A reflex save by Hilario on the left side of the penalty box, denied Routledge from scoring, two minutes later. But the Cottagers drew level on eighty three minutes, as Queudrue’s cross deceived the Chelsea defence, and as Hilario spilled the ball, Carlos Bocanegra, pounced at close range, to punish the Blues lack in concentration.