Wednesday 14 September 2011

Rice's Arsenal can take the sting out of games

The 'new' Arsenal can take the sting out of games, it seems, judging by the away performance at Borussia Dortmund. Buzzing about in yellow shirts, the waspish German side lost their ability to sting for much of the game until Perisic's late equaliser, anyway.

Much of the credit for that has to go to the management team. There's been doubt and scorn thrown at Arsenal legend Pat Rice and he was Wenger-less for this game. Rice has been portrayed as a 'yes' man, so the question is how did he manage without Arsene?

As Kevin Whitcher pointed out on the Gooner Podcast, Rice did a good job as a caretaker boss in the past and, I have to add, based on this performance against Dortmund he's not lost whatever ability he had back then. Although, Arsenal looked decidedly shaky early on, they looked comfortable for most of the game. Flair was sacrificed for the sake of a result, what was required with this new side needing time to gel together.

The game was characterised by some poor deadballs from a number of Arsenal players, but on the plus side it was good to see Arsenal play 'boring' football. Why? Because it took the wind out of Dortmund's sails.

And just when I least expected it, Robin van Persie won the ball in the Dortmund third. The ball found Theo Walcott, who played a well-measured pass for the Dutchman to run onto. And the finish? Well, van Persie made up for his earlier profligacy in front of goal.

All round, I'm impressed with Arsenal's performance. It's true that I yawned a lot during this game, but I'm pleased my prediction came true. A draw against the German champions away. In salesman-talk, I'd like to ask Arsenal fans this rhetorical question: 'Surely, a draw can't be bad?' Especially, as most other Gooners I spoke to expected defeat.

Big up, Pat Rice!

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