Pretty much the first thing Denilson did was generously play Falcao in behind Sol Campbell, however, using his experience the giant defender managed to make a world class challenge.
Seconds later, the Hulk found himself in front of goal again and somehow managed not to miss. We were looking a shambles! Where were Denilson and co?
Diaby lost the ball in the middle of the park, retrieved it well… ran up the pitch and set Nasri up for a toe poke at the keeper.
Then the first key moment arrived. Varela crossed badly after skinning Clichy… Fabianski looked like he had it covered, but let slip into the back of the net. One of the worst goals we’ve conceded this season. And to be fair, we’ve seen a few!
If there is one position you can’t afford a learning curve with… it’s goalkeeper.
Rosicky did well to cut Bends in, his ricocheted shot was unlucky not to go in!
The following corner hits Vermaelen, then Rosicky played it back across goal and who else was there to finish? Big Sol Campbell!
Rosicky was playing really well, he was creating space and running at players the way you’d have hoped.
Watching Denilson potter about the pitch was grating to say the least. He doesn’t have the hunger to be an Arsenal player. I watched Ferguson spit blood at Evans during the game yesterday, would Wenger do the same to Denilson at half time? Time would tell.
Bendtner got on the end of a Cesc cross, his header forcing a great save.
The rest of the half played out with a number of dirty challenges, cynical you could say.
Rosicky had a great shout for a penalty turned down. Stone wall in fact.
The ball headed down the other end. Campbell marshalled the ball, got a touch on it, Fabianski picked it up! The ref blew for the freekick. Arsenal switch off, Porto take the kick quickly, Falcao slots home. A fair goal, another embarrassing piece of defending. Ok, I’ll say it… THE worst piece of defending this year.
Those two goals were so poor, they’ll be in the advert for Danny Bakers footballing gaffs.
Arsenal didn’t have an outlet, Nik was getting pulled outwide and we didn’t have the pace over the top. Walcott came on with the aim of rectifying that. He didn’t.
Cesc did well to smash his 90th minute corner 20 yards past the back post.
I usually welcome Eboue as much as I do another Pfizer special offer e-mail, but I have to give it to the lad, he did fantastically well when he game on. With 92 minutes on the clock he beat his man with a superb dummy, he cut it back to Cesc but Portos centre back got in the way, the ball fell for Diaby who didn’t have the confidence to hit it first time. Failure to shoot… the story of the last 5 years!
So, we lose the easiest tie of the last 16 in the champions league last 16. What does that tell us?
Well, firstly that Arsene Wenger likes to suffer in the name of his art. If someone tells you you’ll get problems with your car if you don’t get it looked at, but you insist it’ll be ok, then it breaks down on the QE2 bridge. Well, don’t come crying to me when your cam belt snaps and you’ve got 2000 people driving past you bibbing their horns calling you an idiot.
Here are some of the problems under the bonnet of project youth.
Denilson doesn’t have the athletic capabilities to be a top class footballer but worse than that, he doesn’t have the attitude to be a top class footballer. Watching him fluff challenge after challenge, miscue passes and saunter back to defend at his own pace made me feel a little bit ill.
If Wenger watches Fabianski in training everyday and he does things like that, why is he our back up keeper? If he is amazing in training and he does things like that in matches… that just goes to show, judging a player by what they do in training and banking on them replicating that in a champions league last 16 is suicidal and tantamount to negligence. Trouble is, could you have bet against Almunia doing any better?
Gael Clichy was absolutely woeful again, he was roasted time and time again by a second rate winger. However, like the keeping issue, who do you put in his place? We have a squad lacking in good back up. Where are our Wes Browns or Alex type reserves? Ours are either pulling their pension or sitting their GCSE’s.
How about overall team attitude?
Cesc hit the nail on the head. His voice trembling with anger when he pointed to the ‘school boy error goals’. He said maybe our team is a bit soft. When we lose goals, Cesc says we’re not good enough to pick ourselves up.
A defeatist attitude at this level? Are you kidding me? That is a diabolical thing to hear from the captain of Arsenal.
As much as I love him, HE should be lifting the team. Would Tony Adams let heads drop? Would Patrick Vieira let Denilson get away with jogging. Not in a million years. Who is leading this team? What have you got to lose when you know you can get overtaken by a ref in a game against Man United and still have a place in the team inside a month? That’s two weeks docked wages in my eyes… or a proper day working with underprivileged kids to realise how good you’ve got it.
Theo Walcott? Why bother bringing him on. His pace is his asset, he’ll run for 20 yards, have a brain freeze, then cut it back. My pals jack russel Barry has more instinct for the game… at least he’ll run with the ball at full pace until he hits a boot bag. Shame he doesn’t earn £60k a week…
Finally onto Wenger. We’ve got a great player in Ramsey sitting on the bench. A player we know can either do an amazing job, or the same type of standard job we get from Denilson week in week out. The Wenger of old would have taken the risk on Rambo… the new Wenger… well, he’s to interested proving to the world he was right with Denilson. A demise of gutting proportions.
Wenger can moan all he likes about the freekick, but it was within the rules and we’ve seen Thierry Henry do the same before. Instead of venting your anger at the officials, why not vent some at your inept squad of highly paid flops? It was funny to listen to his post match reaction, he didn’t know where to go with it, when the commentator asked him if Cesc’s appraisal was correct, he gave that ‘I’ve just spat my cornflakes out’ look. Sometimes, it’s ok to call a cock up a cock up.
The fact is, you can’t win games when 2-3 players aren’t up to the job. It’s unfair on the rest of squad. All these problems are rectifiable, but Wenger seems incapable of making the tough decisions. We knew we needed a keeper, we knew Gael was playing poorly/unfit and we knew Denilson was a liability. We know Theo isn’t a game changer. That’s enough to lose at this level.
Still, despite my rant, it’s important to not get too wrapped up in misery, we’re not out of this by a long shot and I’m sure we’ll qualify at home. However, we want to win this trophy, not brag that we’ve made it to the quarters 22 years in a row.
With with an attitude like the one on show tonight, I struggle to see that culminating.
Fabianski: Two of the most ridiculous pieces of keeping I’ve seen. The first was inexcusable, the second was inconceivable. He scares the defence as much as Big Al. 1
Clichy: Roasted time and time again. His crossing was poor and you always felt nervy with him in the box. Love him as a gooner, but he hasn’t been cutting it for a while now. Needs a rest or some proper competition. 3
Campbell: I thought he had a very good game. There was no accounting for Fabianski picking up that back pass. The goal was superb and some of his defending was world class. You have to do double the job when you have a midfield as disciplined as ours in front of you. 8
Vermaelen: Some real sloppy challenges out there today. He looked annoyed and a bit aloof. Not his best game, but adequate. 6.5
Sagna: I thought he played ok. Nothing too scary from him bar his crosses. He needs more cover like Clichy, he is too often exposed alone. 6
Diaby: Attacking wise I thought he had a very good game. The second half saw the sloppy indecisive Diaby come out to play and no one in midfield can say the did a good defensive job. 5
Cesc: Not good enough for me. You’re supposed to be motivating everyone around you, you’re supposed to stick corners in the dangerzone. I love you, but I’m not going to start justifying a Barcelona move to you like so many fans keep on doing. You’ve signed to us, you get paid handsomely, you need to deliver. You wont get away with performances like that in Catalonia. 5
Denilson: Look, if you let a monkey drive your car and he crashes it, would you get angry at the monkey? Of course not. That monkey doesn’t know how to drive. Same with Denilson, why get angry at a weak footballer? Everyone knows he is poor bar Wenger and it’s not his fault he gets picked every week. The worst performance I’ve seen from him all season… and that’s saying something! 2
Bendtner: We saw the best and worst from him. He won a lot of headers, his passing was good at times. However, he was pulled out wide too often and his reticence to pull the trigger is infuriating considering he is a striker. 6.5
Rosicky: In the main he played pretty well. He claimed a great assist for the goal and forced a couple of handy saves from the keeper. Went missing in the second half. 7
Nasri: First half was pretty average, the second half was pretty anonymous. Same old, same old. He doesn’t have the personality to do great things for me. There is no edge to him. 5
P.S. Any spares to the game this weekend will be welcomed!