Whatever you thought of the performance yesterday, the end result was a 1-0 win and 3 points in the bag. It means we've qualified for the Champions League knockout stages. Cesc was named our new captain and there was a new found belief in the squad. The line up was exactly as suggested yesterday:
Djourou – Gallas – Silvestre – Clichy
Ramsey – Song – Cesc – Denilson
Vela – Van Persie
It was a line up that included a few players who deserved their chance, Djourou, Ramsey and Vela have played well every time they’ve been asked to and it was fitting that all three started today’s game. With so many injuries (we will discuss later), there was little or no choice but to play the team he played.
As I start writing this, it’s on the verge of Wednesday morning and it was bitterly cold yesterday. The players played like it was cold too. Being there at the stadium was very much different than watching the highlights. At the stadium, it did feel like a bit of defensive set up from Kyiv and it also looked like quite a few players had a big lack of movement. But watching the highlights told a different story.
Personally, I think Song and Denilson were very poor and Gallas was shaky, but watching the highlights, it was clear how hard it was to break down the Kyiv wall of 8. Almunia played well and kept us in it when he saved brilliantly with 10 minutes to go. The only obvious problems with the team were that we were playing players out of position, Denilson on the left and Ramsey on the right – both central midfielders – meant we lacked width. As Arsene said after the game, we lacked spark and creativity but we were efficient in our play.
There was some contention regarding the winning goal, where some people thought we should have kicked the ball back to Kyiv, but as we had possession when the ref blew his whistle, the ref and Kyiv players agreed that Arsenal would maintain possession and play on. The players who were arguing with the ref were actually arguing over a potential handball by Bendtner. Replays show it could have gone either way. For those of you who haven’t seen the goal, Cesc had the ball deep in our half, and with a 54-yard long ball found Bendtner who control, albeit wider than required, but finished well into the near post.
There was a moment of unsporting behaviour when Aliev was “injured” and rolling round on the floor, but when Kyiv gained posession, he jumped up like a spring chicken and ran into the box. It was fitting that the player ended up being sent off for pushing the ref near the end of the game.
The injuries that were mounted before this game were quite massive, with 9 first teamers missing the action. Jack Wilshere made his European debut and became our youngest player to play in Europe. I’d look further into our injuries and how we’re coping later tomorrow, but for today, a game is a game and a win is a win.
We’re through to the next round.
Arsenal:Almunia, Djourou, Gallas, Silvestre, Clichy, Denilson, Fabregas, Song Billong, Ramsey (Bendtner 68), Vela (Wilshere 77), Van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Gibbs, Hoyte, Merida, Simpson.
Booked:Van Persie, Bendtner.
Goals: Bendtner 87.
Dynamo Kiev:Bogush, Betao, Diakhate, Asatiani, El Kaddouri, Eremenko, Vukojevic, Ghioane, Aliev, Milevskiy, Bangoura.
Subs Not Used: Shovkovskiy, Dopilka, Sablic, Correa, Shatskikh, Cernat, Yarmolenko.
Sent Off:Aliev (89).
Booked:Milevskiy, Asatiani, Aliev.
Ref:Alain Hamer (Luxembourg).]]>