Arsenal 4 Charlton Athletic 0: Charlton pay the penalty for employing Pardew

Last updated : 03 January 2007 By Brian Dawes

Van The Man on target again - twice
Arsenal were missing an abundance of players and had more who were not really fully fit; Henry (hamstring and or neck), Ljungberg (hamstring), Gallas (thigh), Eboue (ankle), Diaby (ankle), Adebayor (thigh), Djourou (hamstring), Walcott (back) and Hleb (shin) all missed the Sheffield debacle and have since been joined by Baptista and Van Persie in the treatment room. So with eleven players out or not fully fit plus the long-term absentee Lauren tonight's team really picked itself in that those deemed fit enough played. But bearing in mind that Cesc and Kolo have both looked knackered of late this match was not anticipated to be the walkover that a fit first eleven might have expected. At kick off time approached I was in a ‘never mind the quality let's have the points' sort of mood. However the boost Arsenal required came when it was announced that Henry would play alongside Van Persie. So Henry took back the armband and Arsenal opened with a 4-4-2 against Charlton's 4-5-1. Rommedahl had an early shot after Clichy dived in and missed the tackle. Faye on Gilberto for a free kick and Charlton had clearly been told to get stuck in. Gilberto responded with a power drive from range that whistled just over the bar. Hoyte on a run but his cross was too high. Hughes late on Cesc, something that Cesc noted and responded to not too long after in a like for like manner, the kid takes crap from no-one least of all an ex-Tott. Henry to Van Persie for a marginal offside, which the fans in line with the ruling were not at all happy with.

As naff kits go Charlton's away outfit is up there with the worst; all black with rather disgusting yellow and black hooped sox. Anyone daring to wear such a kit clearly deserved a good thrashing. An early corner saw Van Persie find Senderos whose header was cleared off the goal line. Robin then found Cesc who saw his shot brilliantly saved by Carson who was, not for the first time this season, very much their man of the match. Robin fired another one in from wide right which won us a corner. Cesc to Henry who's header hit the post and bounced away. This was one way traffic until Charlton won a corner following a deep cross by Rommedahl. At the other end another cross from Hoyte won us a corner.

Clichy was also getting forward and hit a fine cross towards Van Persie. In the next move Van Persie was held back but it was not given by Mike Riley. Henry caught offside coming back. Cesc with a half blocked shot that hit the bar and bounced back into play with Carson beaten for once. Van Persie was quickest to react but had his shirt crudely grabbed by Sankofa who deserved nothing less than a red card and the penalty which was given. Henry stepped up for the pen and hit it low and hard. 1-0 to Arsenal and it looked very much like game over with half an hour gone.

A vicious foul on Van Persie by Diawara saw a yellow card flashed by Riley. Charlton readjusted by subbing Hughes and replacing him with Fortune and playing a 4-4-1. Arsenal now had the space to pass Charlton to death which is what they proceeded to do. Somewhat overdoing it at one point with about a million passes in or around the Charlton box. Marcus Bent had a shot to show that Charlton were at least theoretically still in the game but this was serious one way traffic. Diawara hacked at Henry's ankles for a free kick which Henry took and Carson tipped over. At the other end a feeble attempt at an overhead kick by Bent acted as a useful clearance for Arsenal. Rommendahl was late on Gilberto before both Henry and Hoyte were caught offside. Great ball from Cesc to Robin as the one minute added time board was held up. Hoyte on a run played a ball inside to Henry who coolly played the one-two back into Hoyte's path who placed a low shot past Carson inside the far post. Hoyte's goal celebration was totally uninhibited and at two-nil Charlton were dead and buried.

The second half was largely played in front of the North Bank where Judy Gooner Grant's banner was clear for all to see but the newly established cloth clock had gone missing, other flags were noticeable by their absence. This was now an exhibition match comprising one team in red and white up against Carson and 9 stooges. Exhibition rules applied with the usual Arsenal formula of we've got the ball and you are not worthy of the ball, so are not having it. The passing was delightful, if at times just a shade over elaborate. The pace was there in short bursts but energy conservation was the norm for the home team. Not that we lacked teamwork or movement, in fact quite the opposite. Van Persie was the first to break through but Carson was always favourite for this particular one on one. Ambrose had a shot that was easy for Jens and more of a token gesture than the real thing.

A Rosicky shot hit the post following a fine run by Henry. Gilberto won a free kick as Charlton failed to get so much as a sniff of the ball. Hleb set up Henry for a tap in when he could have scored himself and the lino gave it as offside, I'm not at all sure that it was because Henry certainly did not appear to be ahead of the ball when it was played. We continued in our attempt to walk the ball into the net. Having seen the spurious offside the same lino failed to spot Gilberto being taken out. Van Persie sneaked in a shot from a very narrow angle on the right that was saved. Ambrose was replaced by Thomas.

Henry to Cesc but Carson was right there to save. Hleb to Henry for a rather tame shot. A Hleb run and a pass to Henry saw Carson make another great save, this time diving to his left. Rommendahl and Faye both conceded free kicks before the injured Gilberto was replaced by Flamini in what appeared to be a cautionary substitution. Diawara pulled back Henry by his shirt in the box and Riley awarded a second penalty. It was clear cut as should have been the second yellow card for Diawara, but he didn't even get one when he kicked the ball away in a hissy fit. Henry let Van Persie take this penalty and all credit to our net manufacturers because Robin gave it some serious welly as he crashed it past Carson. 3-0 Arsenal and we now had a more realistic scoreline to go with our superior play. Rosicky was replaced by Aliadiere.

‘Pardew, Pardew what's the score' the man had been booed whenever he appeared on screen. ‘Down with the Hammers, you're going down with the Hammers' ‘Pardew for Tottenham' which I thought was chant of the night and ‘We forgot that you were sh*te'. Kolo sold a dummy before letting rip with a good shot. Denilson replaced Cesc and had time to get a cross in. Flamini found Van Persie who turned sweetly and chipped the keeper on ninety minutes to make it 4-0, or ten goals in the last two home games if you prefer.

Henry had looked like he needed a game, but he also looked enthusiastic and hungry again. Arsenal didn't exactly kill themselves getting this result but they were very convincing. The only consolation for Charlton was that they looked a bit better than the Hammers did at the weekend, but then again so do most pub teams.