Sagna Sol Vermaelen Clichy
Diaby Song Nasri
Rosicky Bendtner Arshavin
The pre-match commentary was spent mainly slagging Arsenal off. Almunia was too nice to be a captain, nice enough to date the daughter of Graham Souness.
Wenger was mainly concerned about counter attacking, hence the inclusion of Song. Adams interestingly said the players had asked Wenger to do a little more research on the opposition, something I have called for him to do for years. The hope was Wenger had got it right tonight. Ruud said the media criticise because they want us to win. He hopes his suggestions are taken on board.
Bendtner mis-timed his first chance of the match, failing to get on the end of a superb Clichy cross.
Not to be outdone, Sagna crossed excellently to Arshavin at the back post, the quick reflexes of Helton denying him.
The atmosphere was electric.
Arshavin won a header from a long ball against a defender twice his height, he cushioned it back to Nasri who set him loose, the keeper saved his shot but Bends was there to tap in the open goal!
Up the other end, Arsenal allowed a corner to bounce dangerously in the box. An early warning.
Arsenal continued to knock it around nicely.
Just as I spied Nasri collapsing in a heap, Arshavin intercepted a poor Porto pass, he beat three men on the edge of the box, broke free, cut back to Nik who held his line in a way Ade could never and buried the cross. Amazing turnaround from the big Dane.
Song made a vital interception on the edge of the box. Nasri continued to pull the strings in a very Cesc like manner.
Clichy had his customary howler when he handled a high ball keeping it in play allowing the Hulk to waltz into the box and nearly threaten us.
Bendtner forced a good helton save late in the half with a fizzing low shot. The keeper made a super save from the header Diaby powered off from the corner.
A great first half, but a lot of sloppy play mixed in. We would have to settle down in the second half if we wanted to make sure this night fizzled out without any drama. Arshavin, Clichy and Campbell particularly needed to straighten out their howler Tourette’s.
Almost the first thing that happened in the second half was an edge of the box cock up… Rosicky played a weak pass, Song missed it, the Hulk fluffed his chance (A common theme from a man whose name gets people more excited than Denilson’s stats).
Rodriguez beat Sagna to head a corner to the far post where Nasri was on hand the clear.
Arsenal were looking very dodgy, the nervousness was spreading through the ground as well.
The game needed some magic.
Nasri had the ball outwide, outside the box. He took on three defenders, cut in, turned out, broke free of his players and banged it across the far post and scored one of the best goals the Emirates has seen. That’s the Nasri we signed, that’s the Nasri we’ve been hoping to see for the last two years.
Clichy cleared a corner, Arshavin picked it up, rans 40 yards… Eboue sprinted past him, the through ball was sublime, Eboue took it round the keeper and slotted into the empty net! 19 seconds end to end… magic.
Song continued to play sloppy passes, but Arsenal calmed down and started imposing their game again. Diaby was controlling the midfield with Nasri and it was a joy to watch.
A Chorus of ‘Tottenham are watching eastenders’ rang round the ground, superb!
Just as the game was ebbing away, Eboue went down in the box, Penalty! Nik stepped up, the worlds eyes on him, he banged it low and hard into the bottom corner. The clown prince turned in a Great Dane performance!
A message was sent out to Europe, Hull and the Premiership. We’re in this to win it and with a little luck, you never know!
Whilst a 5-0 victory is something to cherish and savour, it would be irresponsible of me to ignore some extremely sloppy play and some poor defending. On another day, we could have been punished. If we want to win the Champions League, we have to concentrate for the full 90 minutes. Chelsea, Bayern, Madrid and Barca wont be so kind with our mistakes. Song, Clichy, Campbell and Arshavin were guilty tonight.
Now onto the good…
Arsenal turned over their first Euro deficit since the seventies, they proved they could handle the pressure and everyone delivered. We were clinical tonight, we worked hard for our win and we weren’t afraid to play. The belief the team showed was special to watch, the crowd finally sound like they are truly connecting with this team, you feel like heroes are developing in front of our eyes… I can’t wait for the next game! Being a Gooner feels pretty amazing right now!
Almunia: Some dodgy kicking and a few spilled shots, but overall, he did his job. 7
Sagna: Say what you like about his crossing, as a defender, he’s top notch. Tonight, he was very good. 7
Vermaelen: Superb. A rock. A legend in the making. He had a blinder tonight, shame about the yellow card.8
Campbell: A very sloppy first half from a very experienced player. He’ll sort that out though and he’ll be more critical of his game than anyone else. What can’t be denied is how he inspires the team. His encouragement of the youngsters and his team huddles are going down a dream! 6.5
Clichy: He played pretty well bar a crazy moment out wide where he let the Hulk in. 6.5
Song: I thought he had a good first half but he let himself down in the second half with some poor passing and bad decision making. He still did a top job closing down angles and breaking up play. He needed to be there tonight and the 5-0 score line proves that. Interestingly, Souness and co said Song was close to being the complete player, the only thing he lacked was the discipline to stay back (Like Gilberto did). 6.5
Nasri: His chance to shine, his chance to showcase his talent… and what a performance. I’ve been questioning him recently because he clearly has an abundance of talent that’s been going to waste… tonight he announced himself on the European scene with the performance we’ve all been waiting for. He was at the heart of everything; showed guts to play through an injury and showed incredible skill to get his goal. A world class performance. 9
Diaby: Honestly, that has to be the most professional performance I’ve seen from the young Frenchman. He passed fantastically, he was disciplined and he allowed Nasri to play the game he did. Don’t underestimate how important he was for us tonight. 7.5
Rosicky: Top game for our favourite Czech player. He plays so much better when he has a target man to play off. His tricky runs and unpredictable play cause alsorts of bother. I hope he’s not injured. 7
Arshavin: We saw the best and the worst of Arsh. His worst was the terribly shoddy passing and his extremely casual play. He needs to stop being so wasteful when he’s not attacking. His best was an inspirational performance up top. He set up the first two goals, bagged an additional assist and played a blinder for us. 8
Bendtner: I backed him 100% at the weekend and I was paid back treble! Nik scored 3 extremely important goals in a game that was worth £18million to the club. He had a terrible time in front of goal last weekend and tonight, he made amends. It wasn’t just the goals for me, it was having a striker who can nod on the long balls, hold up the ball and play with his back to goal. Not to mention how well he held the line for his second goal. He could be the proper centre forward we were looking for in January. He’s an intelligent footballer and he’ll be a top player for us. I hope the world noted how humble he was in the interview afterwards… he didn’t even know he was meant to keep the ball!
Thanks to Gambon for this comment:
Since returning from Birmingham, he has started 56 games for us. He has come on as a sub 57 times, so lets assume he averages 15 minutes when subbed on, this is 855 minutes.
Lets round that upp to 900 minutes, which is 10 games.
So that means 33 goals in 66 games, many of which he has played wide left & right.
1 in 2 Baby!
Eboue: You know I’ve always loved Eboue so I was pleased as punch to see him come on and score a goal. On a serious note, he’s had a great season so far and it was fantastic to see him come on, roll about when we needed him to, stay on his feet when he had to and score when we demanded it! He got the penalty as well! 7
Denilson: Pretty solid cameo appearance. I want to see him do well and get the fans back on side! 6
Theo: Was trying very hard to replicate his goal from the weekend to no avail! His pace was a menace though. 6
Lets keep em’ crossed Diaby, Nasri and Rosicky are all ok for Hull this weekend!