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Article:Cannonballs: The Aerial Attack and Bring in the Vets

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Saturday saw a short trip for Arsenal to Craven Cottage where they faced a relegation threatened Fulham.  What ensued was complete domination by the Gunners.  Fulham were never really all that threatening as Arsenal came away with a comfortable 3-0 victory.  Given that the team was coming off a bit of a disappointment when they drew 1-1 with Birmingham City I was very satisfied with how the team played.

What was very interesting to me was how the first two Arsenal goals were scored.  Both goals were scored by Emmanuel Adebayor.  Both goals were strong attacking headers.  The first was made through a Gael Clichy cross.  Adebayor seemed to just hang in the air forever before delivering a powerful headed ball that completely rooted Antti Niemi to the turf.  Thrilling and entertaining stuff to be sure.  The big man from Togo was not done though.  His second this time was made from the right side off the glorious boot of Alexander Hleb.  Once more Adebayor lept and just hung there in the air and then when the moment was right once more headed home leaving Niemi once more bewildered and wrong footed.  As tribute the Arsenal fans sang and sang Adebayor's name, a tribute that was richly deserved.

After those two thunderous headers I thought to myself how much Arsenal had been criticized over the years for not having an aerial presence in the box.  Rightly or wrongly the one thing that people constantly commented on in the way Thierry Henry led the attack was that he was not all that much of presence when crosses would come in high into the area.  It now seems with Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner, I remember his winning header against sp*rs earlier in the year, that Arsenal now have the werewithal to provide a significant threat when the ball is crossed in high into the area.

Commenting on how he learned his aerial prowess Adebayor relayed this to the club's website:

"When I was young, I used to suspend a ball from the ceiling in my mum’s house in Togo and see if I could jump high enough to head it. Every time I managed to head it, I would shorten the string attached to the ball and try to leap even higher."

That youthful ingenuity is now paying dividends for the Arsenal and I for one am impressed.

Today sees the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against sp*rs.  Usually this competition is left up to the young guns but Arsene Wenger has been forced to bring the veterans to supplement the squad.  With players away at the African Cup of Nations and a plethora of injuries the 16 man squad named to face the old enemy includes a large number of veteran names.  The goalkeeping duty is in the hands of Lukasz Fabianski with Vito Mannone on the substitutes bench.  The defense sees the inclusion of William Gallas and Bacary SagnaPhilippe Senderos is out after suffering a broken nose from the elbow of Carlos Bocanegra in the Fulham match.  The midfield is strengthened with the presence of Alexander Hleb and Cesc Fabregas.  The attacking options appear to be handled by Adebayor and Bendtner.  So it's all to play for as the first leg saw sp*rs come away with a slight advantage as they drew 1-1 at the Emirates.  I for one am hoping that the inclusion of the veteran presence will see the Gunners through at White Hart Lane.

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