Today we took on Middlesborough in the League and we played a much stronger line up than I expected. I really thought we'd rest players like Cesc, Walcott and Nasri, but the boss went with a stronger line up and the idea must have been let's win the game then rest the big guns! The team news was boosted with the return of Almunia and the inclusion of Djourou in the squad.
We started with:
Eboue – Toure – Silvestre – Gibbs
Walcott – Cesc – Denilson – Nasri
Bendtner – Arshavin
Although, the line up was more like a 4-4-2, Arshavin had quite a free role, which saw him pop up all over the place. Mostly on the left, which helped overload that side and the team pushed on with esquisite play mostly inspired but the awesome foursome of Walcott, Cesc, Nasri and Arshavin.
The first goal came through Cesc Fabregas, when a great piece of intricate play saw the ball go from Arshavin to Bendter, who did a clever little back heel into the path of Cesc who played a great ball into the path of Arshavin, who ran the length of the half before cutting the ball back to Cesc who shot will amplomb to make it one nil to the Arsenal.
And the goal was very much deserved, we’d definitely been the team in control – some of the football played was amazing. Our link up play was brilliant. At 1-0, any mistake will be punished and it did take until the 67th minute until we got the second goal.
Eboue turned creator and slipping Cesc into a goal scoring situation, and the Spaniard rounded the keeper and slotted home to make the score line 2-0. Cesc and Walcott were then duly rested for Diaby and Adebayor, giving some pitch time to two players who will probably feature on the midweek game and resting two who will definitely play.
The manager was obviously very pleased with the result and had this to say:
“It was an entertaining game and after 2-0 you could see that Maybe the Champions League started to surface a little bit. Overall it was a very good game against a Middlesbrough team who played in a very positive way. We dominated it and we made some brilliant passing today, some brilliant combinations. The first goal was absolutely outstanding and you could see that the team enjoy the way we play and loved the game. Middlesbrough had one opportunity to come back through Jeremie Aliadiere which was maybe the turning point for them.”
“He gets sharper and sharper in every game. He was out for three months and you don’t come back at your best straight away. But now he gets better in every game. Every player who plays in midfield, who thinks they are creative and offensive, needs to score goals. That happened to him today and that’s important.”
“Usually Fabregas plays deeper with Nasri higher. I wanted to test how it would work the other way round. It could be reiterated that we will do it again because it was quite convincing. But that is open; we have 48 hours to study that then make a decision.”
“It’s better to win today than to lose and rest players. I believe the first part of today was to win the game – that’s the best preparation. We have a young team and they recover well. It is very important to put a nearly decisive distance between us and number five, Aston Villa. I believe it was very important not to miss that opportunity today. It’s not completely definite but 10 points with four games to go… We can focus now on maybe catching Chelsea because we play Chelsea at home.
“If you go to Old Trafford without belief you make it very difficult from the start. We’ll go there with belief, with desire and with enjoyment as well. We enjoy being where we are.”
“I thought he was coming to watch Middlesbrough? He knows we have good red wine in the Directors’ Box! I think he knows us and he’ll think it will be an exciting game between two teams who try to play. We know each other well but still the talent on the pitch always surprises you. But I believe that both teams will go for it and it will be an exciting game.
“[did you speak to him?] Yes, we are polite here, we greet people. I went up to the Directors’ Box before the game like I always do.”
“Yes, Tottenham played well. In fairness I didn’t see the second half I saw the first and during the period I saw, Tottenham played very well.”
“We will be faithful to the game we play and we go like we go everywhere in Europe, to try and score a goal or two to win the game. What is important on Wednesday night is to be at our best. When we are at our best we can beat anybody so let’s focus on us to be at our best and not to speculate on any weakness of Man United because they have the experience. But if we play at our best we have a good chance and we can do it.”
“Adebayor is just coming back from injury, Djourou as well. Djourou’s knee was not 100 per cent but he came through – I will decide that on Tuesday or Wednesday. Djourou came through the game well we will have to see how he responds tomorrow. I believe the only serious problem we have from today is Silvestre, he has a back spasm. He is a 50:50 [for Old Trafford].”
Back tomorrow with the first of a few preview posts regarding the BIG game…
Arsenal: Almunia, Eboue, Toure, Silvestre (Djourou 46), Gibbs, Walcott (Diaby 68), Denilson, Fabregas (Adebayor 68), Nasri, Arshavin, Bendtner.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Sagna, Vela, Song Billong.
Goals: Fabregas 26, 67.
Middlesbrough: Jones, McMahon (Digard 73), Wheater, Huth, Taylor, O’Neil, Bates, Sanli, Downing, Aliadiere (Emnes 86), King (Adam Johnson 61).
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Hoyte, Alves, Grounds.
Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).]]>