"That goal might just be a contender for goal of the season," according to Davie Provan, expert summariser on Setanta. Might? Goal of the season? It was the effing goal of the decade, let alone season. Go on, give me one that was better.
A good advertisement for the Premiership settled by a simply wonderful goal. Arsenal may not be the best team in the country right now, but they exemplify the purest form of the sport imaginable. No hopeful punts upfield or balls just lumped into the box, instead gloriously fluid passing and moving. Occasionally they over-indulge a little, but the law of averages tells them the defence will eventually open up.
Despite having 82% of the possession in the first half, Arsenal went behind thanks to Hasselbaink's presence of mind, curbing his natural instinct to shoot in order to present Darren Bent with the simplest of goals. Both Bent's goals this season from open play have been put on a platter by Hasselbaink, and it's a partnership that we will increasingly be relying upon.
Although we had barely been in the game and Van Persie soon equalised, the goal served to remind us that if Arsenal have a weak spot it's in their inexperienced defence, and to the extent that we were able to get possession of the ball, we looked reasonably dangerous as was proved several more times in the second half.
If the Dowie critics were expecting heads to drop after Van Persie's second, they would have been impressed surely by his team's response. Firstly Reid forced a fine low save from Lehmann, and Hasselbaink contrived to miss a free header from an excellent Hughes cross, either side of reasonable penalty appeals after Gallas handled Lisbie's overhead kick. Speaking of Lisbie, a late call-up in place of the injured Rommedahl was an enforced surprise, and his confidence slowly grew having been declared missing for most of the first half.
If I am brutally honest, I don't think we would have got anything out of this game even if we had converted a second half chance, because Arsenal always had that extra gear in storage. Although we had grown into the game after the break, Scott Carson still made two outstanding saves (one in particular from Henry after Fortune's suicidal defending), and at least two other more straightforward ones, whilst Henry more generally gave our defenders a torrid afternoon.
As I write, Sheffield United are playing 'Boro where a win for the Blades will see us left in a humbling last place. Back on June 22nd, I suggested only part-jokingly that Charlton might well find themselves bottom with a solitary point after today's game, so we shouldn't be too surprised, and moreover no-one foresaw the injury crisis that only seems to be getting worse not better. However I've seen enough to remain optimistic that we will pull through, and four points or more from the Fulham/Watford games would be a mighty leap in the right direction.