I don’t know… Arsenal players make it tough on themselves don’t they? Last week Gibbs threatened to break his foot for the under 21′s, this week he went through with the threat by smashing his foot into the underside of a Liege players boot. Kieron’s broken his metatarsal and he’ll be out for the next two months. What a gutter.
Will boot manufacturers ever wise up and build more protective footwear? I mean, we are talking about football here. The difference of 0.1 seconds worth of pace on a football pitch over a protected foot? Well, surely it’s a no brainer. So for Sundays game, we’ll either see Traore or Silvestre. Nice…
Onto the game.
Again, it’s a tough one to report on. I’ve got to give it to your straight and I’m worried that if I dish out too many superlatives, I’ll be doing you an injustice. Standard Liege are a poor team. A poor team on the level of Wolves. We beat them convincingly and played some pretty special football at times, but if you take off your blinkers for a second, you’d have to admit that we could have drawn or lost that game last night because of the silly mistakes.
Despite dominating possession for a majority of the ninety minutes, Standard still managed to hit the woodwork twice. More worryingly, a freekick flew into the box, bounced 8 yards out, luckily Almunia wasn’t beaten by the oncoming striker. I can sit here and talk about how we could have bagged 6, it’s true, but we’re playing Chelsea this weekend and those chances that an incredibly poor team carved out, will be goals if we continue to take a sloppy approach to defending this Sunday.
Arsenal started in a hungry fashion. If Wenger let rip with a 4 letter expletive in a press conference, you can imagine the mood in the dressing room. Fair play to the boss, molly coddling grown men is never going to get your results. Song went close early on after he miscontroled the ball and was fortunately let back in by some poor defending. Fabregas and Nasri also had chances in the first five minutes.
Song continued to impress going forward, neatly cutting the ball away from his challenger, releasing Nasri who inexplicably crossed it to the back post. Our next chance… or 4 chances, came from a Fabregas corner which Bolat saved the resulting Arsh header, Vela had a toe poke cleared off the line, Gallas had a double shot saved, before Arshavin nearly had his head taken off by a Verminator thunderbolt! Humorous stuff.
Then came the usual sucker punch. Mbokani, skillfully worked his way into some space at the expense of Vermaelen and let off a rasping shot that nearly snapped the upright! Outrageous how things like that only ever seem to happen to Arsenal.
Our time was upon us. Vermaelen sensing Mulemo was uneasy with long balls, fired a 45 yard looping ball to Nasri, the Liege defender inexplicably slipped over, the ball bounced on the 18 yard box, Sammy followed the ball in and clipped the ball on the bounce into the bottom corner. An amazing finish!
Moments later, Eboue played a poor pass outside our box, Goreux picked up the ball, Gallas shoved him over in pub brawl style fashion and unbelievably, the ref waved play on. Perhaps feeling guilty about not giving Eboue a penalty earlier in the night (Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that. He really has cleaned up his act, hasn’t he?).
The ball went up the other the other end moments later, Denilson looked up and smashed a 30 yard screamer at the goal. The ball moved 3 times enroute and deceived the keeper to give our young Brazilian his first of the season. Denilson and I have a strange relationship… I didn’t enjoy his contribution in preseason, but last season, I preferred him as the holding midfielder. If only he had the bulk…
The second half was a bit of a write off. Arsenal mostly controlled the play and nothing of note really happened bar of course some shoddy defending and another woodwork effort with seven minutes to go. Theo managed a run out and looked powerful and pacey and Cesc was being praised for keeping his cool when Carcela-Gonzalez went for the head butt. The press didn’t mention Cesc slapped his face moments before in the challenge, but fair play to the captain for keeping things under control.
So in conclusion. William Gallas wears a gum shield. Samir Nasri is a sly finisher. Cesc has his temper under wraps. Denilson has promised to deliver us more screamers. Eboue is still a diving cheat. Gibbs is out. Arshavin bleeds for the cause. Willy G looks like the elephant man. Gibbs is injured. Arsenal are going to have to out score the Chav’s on Sunday, because we’re not going to out defend.
Almunia: Hard to rate a keeper who had very little to do, yet still nearly managed to concede 3 times. The ball bouncing in the box was a particular worry. He’ll need to dominate his area on Sunday if we’re to have a chance. 6
Gibbs: I thought he was having a good game at left back, I’m just gutted his been cursed by the same injury Clichy suffered with for so many years. Someone needs to invent foot-pads for defenders… or metal boots. 7
Vermaelen: I love the guy, he is always keen to get forward and defends with his heart on his sleeve. However, we’re still looking susceptible at the back and he is part of that. 7
Gallas: After a nasty collision with Arshavin, it would have been easy for him to go off. He didn’t and he fought on despite looking like he’d just been involved in a nasty car crash. I’m giving him an extra 0.5 for that. 7.5
Eboue: Sloppy passing, loads of running into the opposition half with no end product and a customary dive. We’ll get the old cut and pasters telling us that he’s really improved this season, I’d beg to differ… he’s still the same player. The irony of being a cheat and having a God message on your shirt is not lost on many of us. 6
Denilson: I thought the Brazilian had a pretty solid return to action. His passes in the main went forward, he joined well with the attack and he played in an intelligent manner. Oh, and he even managed to bag his second of the season, first of the Champions league. 7
Song: One of the players steadily moving out of the marmite category, straight into blind love pile. He can do no wrong amongst some of you, which leads to cries of man of the match after every game, tales of spectacular control of the game and comparisons to some of the all time greats. He played well yesterday, but to hear some of you harp on about how amazing he is, is quite beyond me. He’s supposed to protect the back 4, we have the worst opening season defensive record in our history. 7.5
Cesc: Played superbly well, hustling and putting his weight about in defence, creating and crafting out chances going forward. He’s been unlucky on the goal scoring front, but he’s still the form man in our side at the moment. Give him movement up front and he’ll give you chances. 8
Nasri: Drifts in and out of games, but after 3 months out, that’s to be expected. A laboured performance from our Frenchman today and a very tidy finish. 7
Vela: Didn’t really have much of an impact on the game. We have to give him time though, he’s really quite green to the first team. He does have a lovely touch and he knows how to turn his marker inside out. I’ve got high hopes for the new Robbie Fowler. 6.5
Arshavin: Far too much criticism from the fan base over the contribution of Arsh. It’s normally the people telling you Song should take the Balon D’or right now. He is a dream of a player, every person I speak to about Arsenal talks about our Russian green with envy. He is a once in a lifetime player, enjoy what he does and stop moaning when he doesn’t give you 4 goals a game. He’s feeling his way into this season and he’s still managed some powerful, tangible stats (Tangible as in goals and assists, intangible as in Hleb assisting the assister). He even bled for the cause tonight. 7
See you in the comment Grovers!