Category Archives: Match Reports
Arsenal beat Udinese 1-0 in the first leg of the Champions League play-off. Ramsey looked good in midfield, Gervinho ran his heart out, Vermaelen was solid and Szczesny showed why we do need another goalkeeper.
The game started well for Arsenal, with Theo given us the lead after four minutes, after that though it was backs to the wall as Udinese caused us many problems. The midfield was a bit ragged, Rosicky looked a bit lightweight and was taken off once again as the pace of the game was too much for him. Song was advancing too far forward and left us exposes on many occasions, we looked more secure once Frimpong came on and allowed the other players to move forward and we created two more chances which Walcott failed to take.
The defence looked adequate, Koscielny appeared comfortable playing alongside Vermaelen and Szczesny pulled off two great saves top keep us in the tie.
Arsenal have escaped with 1-0 victory to take away to Italy where we will need to perform better if we are to make it through to the Champions League group stages.
The squad was very threadbare last night, with Bendtner making the bench on the day that both Eboue and Vela left the club (£4M sale to Galatasaray and season long loan to Real Sociedad respectively). The only players to come in for the rest of the season from the 18 on display last night are van Persie, Squillaci, Traore and Diaby.
Injuries hit the team once more with Gibbs and Djourou both having hamstring injuries. The squad for Liverpool will also be without the suspended Gervinho and Song, so it could be a long Saturday for the Gooners.
Too often in European away ties we play with an inbuilt fear, a fear of making a mistake and not being able to recover. Last night saw a very indifferent performance from Arsenal, a performance that the Sky TV team of Parry and Smith.
Within five minutes all Arsenal fans were wondering what had gone wrong. Again defensive mistakes resulted in goals. Clichy failed to cut out a cross that resulted in a corner. The corner was cleared and something possessed Eduardo to flick it back rather than clear the ball and we were losing 1-0. Within minutes Eboue lost the on the half-way line, this led to a penalty and it was curtains for Arsenal, or so Parry had hoped.
Arsenal got to grips with the game and slowly clawed their way back into the game after Diaby ran past two players and played Bendtner through who made no mistake with the goal.
Arsenal scored two fortuitous goals in the second half, but when you have lost to an own goal at Old Trafford do you really care?
At the end there was a lot relief all round, but the commentators were there to stick the boot in.
We need to put the match into context. We had won away from home against a goods footballing side. We came back from 2-0 down to win, this shows that the team will nor give up at any stage. We were unfortunate on Saturday not to have come back from 4-1. We were missing four creative players in Nasri, Walcott, Arshavin and van Persie.
The game saw a great performance from Rosicky who did not look jaded or off the pace. His creativity will prove a major asset for Arsenal over the weeks ahead, especially if Wenger has either Nasri or Walcott to bring on after Rosicky has run himself into the ground.
Ramsey looked like a man today. He was very assertive and confidence of his own performances and always looked to go forward. The boy has progressed immensely in a year and can now be relied upon by Wenger to do a job.
Vermaelen, once again, looked like a very accomplished and confident defender. He won his tackles and headers and was very comfortable on the ball.
People will criticise Arsenal for the performance, but maybe you need to win games when you are not playing well to give the team and supporters the belief that you can snatch victories under many circumstances.
Sunday’s game was frustrating to say the least. It was a perfect summary of our season, our strengths, weaknesses and failings.
Wenger insists for some unknown reason in persisting with a 4-2-3-1 formation. He then proceeds and plays our players out of position. Diaby on the wing and Nasri as a central midfielder. Both look lost and ineffective in these alien roles. We then proceed to play with one striker and expect this person, be they van Persie, Adebayor or Bendtner to beat two top class defenders. In our recent games against Chelsea (twice), Manchester United (twice) and Liverpool we failed to play as an attacking force.
The sooner Wenger reverts to 4-4-2 the better.
Then Arsenal embark on another frustrating afternoon of failing to hit the target. Theo Walcott may have a signed a new contract, but he needs to compose himself and start to hit the target. He had four or five good chances yet missed the target every time. He is not the only one to blame. Fabregas and van Persie were through on goal, but instead of driving forward, they looked to create a “better” angle. What better angle than powering at the goalkeeper with defenders scared to challenge you in the area? The directness in our football is lacking. Rather than go for goal, we play the ball sideways, was this meant to be a salute to Ray Wilkins the master “crab”?
The only player who once against looked like he wanted to take the game to the opposition was Bendtner. Yet Wenger thinks that he is better suited to playing out wide, what a wasted opportunity this was.
Finally Arsene sent on our talisman, Adebayor. Adebayor had spent last week telling everyone that he wants to stay at Arsenal and win trophies; he wants to repay the club catapulting him onto the world stage. Based on yesterday’s display we have a long wait for Adebayor to get into the mood. The fans are sick and tired of his comments and lack of action or urgency on the pitch. He scored a great goal against Villarreal and has now decided he will eat out on that goal for the rest of the season.
Our midfield trio of Nasri, Song and Fabregas offered little protection to the defence. They were all attracted to the ball and failed to track back This lack of defensive support left Silvestre and Toure exposed. Our defence has gone backwards this season. Sagna was rock last season, this season his positioning is poor and he has lost his pace. Toure and Silvestre fail to win balls in the air and the slightest turn and Silvestre is left stranded.
Whilst the result, 4-1, was a biter pill to swallow, our general failings all over the pitch were symptomatic of our season. We face another baptism of fire on Saturday, when Manchester United will be looking to clinch their seventh trophy since we won our last trophy.
Last night’s game was a bitter pill to swallow, described by Wenger as his worse defeat, seen by the fans as an abject surrender. We were promised a different Arsenal from the one that turned up at Old Trafford last week, the fans were up for it, the club spent money on providing flags for everyone, and then the game kicked off.
For five minutes we felt something special was going to happen, and then United attacked and scored. Heads dropped and 1-0 soon became 2-0 and with eleven minutes our season had come crashing down. All our hopes were dashed, reality set in, we were never contenders, merely dreamers.
Manchester United put on a master class performance in how to keep the ball, how to create space, how to battle and how to win. We were chasing shadows for most of the game.
The United front three were constantly running into space, tracking back harassing our defenders, whilst van Persie, Adebayor and Walcott were statues by comparison. Park and Rooney were all over the place, whilst Adebayor and van Persie played like strangers. In central midfield Ferguson played three players who competed for everything; they completely overran our midfield, Song tried his best, but one player against three is no contest. Fabregas never got out of first gear. Nasri competed but you can never win a game when only one player out of five attacking players puts in any effort.
At the back Sagna did well, but his crossing was lamentable. It is pointless having players in the middle if you have players who cannot get the ball more than five feet off the ground. Djourou and Toure did well, but as they were only marking Ronaldo, he should never have been allowed the time and space he was given. I feel sorry for Gibbs; it was an unfortunate slip which drained all the confidence out of him. Going forward Gibbs is our best full-back.
On the evidence of our three semi-final appearances this season we are long way behind Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. It is no surprise though as we have been slowly edging towards this position for four seasons now. Success for Arsenal used to be runners-up in the league and a FA Cup win every other year. Now our standards have dropped whereby a fourth place and any semi-final appearance are deemed a successful season.
Arsenal fans want success on the pitch and at the moment we are not achieving this. It is time for the board to tell Wenger that he needs to deliver a trophy next season; in turn the board needs to make available £40 million for the manager to bring in the players to achieve success.
Fourth place in the Premiership is not success.