Arsenal News Blog

fact and opinion intertwined

Lightening didn’t strike 5 times

Posted by James Dall on 22, November 2006

Obviously it was a big game, a huge game really, in terms of the effect it would have on the rest of our European season. We started fairly brightly in typical Arsenal fashion, pass and move, however the ball ended up in our half then near the edge of our box and then out of nowhere an absolute screamer from Van der Vaart. In off the bar – i was silenced. I think we all thought the same, we have conceded, we are going to struggle. From the goal we soldiered on attempting to crave out an opening, Hleb hit the bar after our best move of the half however we were 1-0 down at half time. We had played pretty poorly. We lacked tempo and the passing was less penetrative and more side to side. Things needed to change at half time. They did, we reverted back to 4-4-2 with Robin along side Thierry. Almost an immediate impact as Hleb twisted on the ball and fed Fabregas, who turned supremely and slid in Robin who buried coolly. I celebrated but we are all to used to seeing 1-1 on the score board at home and I was still concerned. I was worried we might not have the guts and balls to dig in and carve out a win. You would have thought the goal would have got us going but it didn’t. Things went flat again.

From the bench came Theo, maybe the spark we needed? He was, he looked more direct and gave us some variation. Starting on the left you could see the right back was more concerned than he was 30 seconds ago. A move was then produced on the right hand side, Theo who had switched over to the right tapped it to Eboue who ran to the by-line and hit a cross come shot – the keeper messed it up – GOAL! ah the relief. The fans went mental, as did I. finally 2-1 up at home after being 1-0 down. We then played out the game looking comfortable until the icing on the cake came when Theo was slipped in on the wing, he could have shot, he could have passed to Thierry, he did’t, he knew what to do and that was to float a perfect ball onto the head of Baptista. 3-1! All the goals can be viewed here.

I thought I would do some player rating again –

Lehman – no chance with the goal, little to do otherwise – 6

Eboue – Got forward but his final ball was terrible, made up for it with the goal – 7

Toure – Solid again, covered so much ground for a CB – 7

Senderos – excellent to see him back, put some crunching challenges in – 7

Clichy – like Eboue his final ball was poor, and was a bit off defensively – 5

Hleb – excellent for me, worked his socks off and looked dangerous -9

Flamini – worked hard and did the ugly things, Gilberto might have been a bit tidier – 6

Fabregas – some great passing, kept things ticking over – 8

Ljungberg – worked hard, definitely needs games – 6

Van Persie – expertly taken goal, definitely looks more comfortable along side Thierry – 8

Henry – did not get much of the ball, out for the next game too with a soft booking – 6

Walcott – inspirational sub – 8

Baptista – well taken goal – 6

Just a few points – Thierry has spoken about how he still does not feel at home yet, not sure what to make of that really. I think we are all aware he has not been at his best but of course he did not have pre season training and now he is playing up front on his own which is disappointing. I know the system has proved effective but how often are we seeing Henry on the left hand side running at the full back and cutting inside? The formation in my opinion does not bring the best out of our star player – not a wise move. I am sure though that we will see 4-5-1 against Bolton which to be honest might be the correct decision but when we are home playing teams like Newcastle, why not show them who is boss and play the 4-4-2?

We need at least a point against Porto, no mean feat, especially without Thierry but I am confident we can do it, as is Wenger.

Finally a nice way to round off the blog is Fabregas’ comments on Theo

He is the best player of that age playing in the Premiership. Definitely. When he came to Arsenal you could see he has the quality. If I had to choose two players it would be him and Lionel Messi, because I saw what he could do at Barcelona. For me they are the two best players I have seen at 16 to17.

I enjoy how if you read that and did not know who Fabregas was you would think he was about 28. Two absolute wonderkids. Right until the next blog my friends…


One Response to “Lightening didn’t strike 5 times”

  1. Jim said

    Great Blog. I agree with the above and all there is to say really. Cheers for the read. Nice looking as well. Happy New Year

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