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View From The North Bank: Arsenal 1 Wolves 1

A 1-1 draw at home to Wolves would have been disappointing in any circumstances but, in light of the Boxing Day results, this was even harder to take. Arsenal’s failure to find a winner meant a golden opportunity to move into the top four was missed.
The statistics tell a tale of near total dominance. 73% possession, 13 corners and 27 goal attempts – 11 of which were on target. After Benayoun had threaded a fine ball for Gervinho to calmly put Arsenal in the lead we continued to attack and create chances. Van Persie drew the first of many fine saves from Hennessey after wriggling beyond Johnson and snatched at another chance, pulling his shot across goal when he had time to pick his spot.
Our control of the game was such that it almost became too easy.  For a period after the half hour the game became scrappy but when we needed someone to get their foot on the ball and restore bit of calm no one was able to.
The last few minutes before half time are essential if you only have a single goal cushion yet we drifted and gave the visitors some hope. Wolves won a corner which we failed to clear and after a bit of pinball Fletcher directed the ball past the helpless Szczesny. How many times has that scenario played out at The Emirates in the last few seasons?

Wolves were level through their only shot on target. We all know that we need an injection up front – more of which later – but if we continue to allow teams to be rewarded having exerted the minimum of pressure, we will continue to get results like this. This is not a criticism of the defence who did little wrong yesterday; it’s a comment about the overall focus in these situations.

The second half was about as one sided as a Football match can be. I distinctly remember looking at the clock with 25 minutes left and thinking that it was just a matter of time. We won corner after corner, free kick after free kick and yet still no break through. Van Persie had efforts repelled, as did Vermaelen and Mertesacker. Wayne Hennessey added his name to the list of goalkeepers who have come to The Emirates and had the game of their life.

Immediately after the game I was frustrated yet philosophical. It was just one of those days. You can’t fault any individual for effort yesterday. Our best chance fell to our best striker yet the winning goal evaded us. Sometimes you have to take it on the chin.

After a bit more reflection though it’s difficult to avoid thoughts of what might have been if we had a bit more trusted quality up top. Of course, adding another first class hit-man might have changed nothing but it would be nice to know there is a player to add to games that the opponents will worry about. At the moment Chamakh just doesn’t do that.

Some people were disappointed that after having been talked up prior to the game Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t get on.  Personally, I’m not sure it was the game to throw an inexperienced youngster into. There was very little space for his speed to exploit and the close intricate passing that happened around the box is a fine art that needs to be learnt over time.

I suppose that sort sums it up. We are looking for an unproven talent or a player out of form to come in and change a game. There is little doubt that the Ox will be a future star but some proven talent would be welcome.

It has to be said that the addition of Henry, as a short term replacement for Gervinho and Chamakh, seems likely. I‘d like to see Henry back and I still think he could do a job but we will need more beyond February when he would be scheduled to return to New York.

There has been no shortage of paper talk regarding other high profile forwards but expecting a club to part with a star player in the middle of a season seems over ambitious to me. This is the problem we face. Maybe a loan deal would suit. Who knows which strikers are available? One thing I do know is that you can never second guess Wenger; he is likely to have something up his sleeve.

So, the race for the top four continues and this is just a set back on a long road. This season has been so topsy-turvy so far that nothing will be decided in December. A win on Saturday will redress the balance somewhat. We should still take heart from the effort that went in yesterday. On another day we might have had four or five. Lets hope we have that other day on Saturday.