since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 0 - 2 (1) Arsenal

FA Barclaycard Premiership 2001-02

Saturday, December 1, 2001

Referee: D Elleray

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 24,666

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2924

























Match Report

Xmas comes early for Gunners

Ipswich have lost again, this time to Arsenal. The Tractor Boys never really looked capable of causing an upset, although once again we shot ourselves in the foot by handing the opposition an easy victory.

I'm actually not that disappointed we lost this one, as it was expected. I'm more disappointed in the way Arsenal didn't have to earn it. They were hardly impressive themselves, and we gifted them three points; they must have thought Christmas had come early. But the main difference between the teams was Fredrik Ljungberg, who can claim to have won the match single-handedly for his team. For player who was sporting a hair cut that must mean he has the maturity of a naughty school kid, was instrumental in three match-deciding incidents. Not only did the sad looking Swede convert an easy chance after a fatal Titus Bramble error, he also found himself obliviously in the way of Herman Hreidarsson header, that looked suspiously like handball. He then conned David Elleray into giving Arsenal a spot kick midway through the second half that wrapped up the points. Ipswich kicked off with Bramble, Sixto and Veno back in the starting line up as expected. Surprise, surprise, Alun Armstrong wasn't fit after picking up a hamstring injury in the Newcastle game. His void was filled by Richard Naylor. As the game got underway, Arsenal started the brightest, and knocked the ball about well. But their opener after five minutes was a direct result from another Bramble gaff. The big youngster, while bringing the ball out of defence, failed to find an Ipswich player with his pass, and the ball was quickly cut out by an advancing Henry. The Frenchman bore down on the Town defence, before setting up Ljundberg. It was an easy chance that the Swede slipped past Sereni. Same old, same old. Another weak goal needlessly conceded, and Town were now chasing the game. This knocked the confidence, and it took the players a while to get their game together. In the eighth minute Sereni was called upon to make a great save from Henry, and then Chris Makin nearly headed the ball into his own net when clearing the ball for a corner. But Town did rally, and started to take the game to Arsenal. Clapham had a shot saved by Taylor, and Marcus Bent fired a shot that deflected high and wide. A couple of corners followed, but predictably the goal didn't. Arsenal, with so much pace in their team, were happy to soak up the pressure and hit us on the break. Bent, who was working hard on his debut, whipped in a cross that just evaded Clapham and Peralta, and Holland headed over from a Veno free kick. With only one goal in it at half time, Town fans clung to hope that we could still get something out of the game. And team did carry on where they left off, by pressing for the equaliser. Holland wasted possibly our best chance up that point, when he headed over from a great cross from Clapham. But the game was opening up, as Arsenal threatened to attack on the break. The game was about to turned on it's head by that irritating talentless excuse of a winger Ljungberg. He initially endeared himself to the Ipswich public, with the first example of his repertoire of gamesmanship. After being turned and beaten in the middle of the park by Peralta, he hauled the Argentinean with his arm. It broke down a very promising attack, and although he earned a booking, he was probably well chuffed with result. Minutes later, more Ipswich pressure earned a corner that so nearly brought the equaliser. Herman powered the ball goal bound with his head, but unbelievably it bounced of Ljungdberg's chest/arm away for a corner. It was a good shout for a penalty, and only Ljungberg will know if he intentionally handled it, but I expect he did. If only that had gone in. Instead, we were shortly about to find ourselves two down. The play raced to the other end, where Mark Venus out-powered Ljungberg to break down an attack. The Swede went sprawling in an attempt to feign foul play, and succeeded. Elleray pointed to the spot, and Henry didn't need a second invitation to sweep home the penalty. Realistically we were never going to recover from 2-0 down, but we did at continue to play football. Burley introduced Finidi George and Pablo Counago into the action, and some chances were created. Bent had another couple of efforts, although Town's good build up play usually ended without any shot. Towards the end, the crowd ironically cheered a Finidi shot, as it had been the first pop at goal for far too long. The match ended, and once again we had endured another bitterly disappointing afternoon. It's hard know what we can actually do put it right. It's not as if we had been outplayed, but I'd be lying if I said it was anything other than a comfortable victory for Arsenal. You cannot give teams like Arsenal two goal leads, and expect to get anything from the game however well you play. Ljungberg of course had a big impact on the game, and not for the footballing reasons. I always like to take some positives from games, but there seems little point when we continue to lose. Clapham was my man of the match, and was a constant threat down our ‘problem area' of left midfield. Marcus Bent worked hard, and showed potential, but didn't see enough of the ball. Comfort can also be drawn from Finidi's performance. He wasn't on the pitch for long, but he did manage to fit in some good touches, pace and skill. His return is very welcome. It would be easy to vent our frustration on Bramble for his silly error, but I don't think that would be productive or fair. He has saved us so often with last-ditch tackles, but he must work on his irresponsible passing. With relegation looking more a certainty with every passing game, at least we can go to Milan with absolutely nothing to lose.

From The Terrace

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