A very good performance by Arsenal saw us beat “The Hoops” 2-0 at Celtic Park.
Celtic 0-2 Arsenal
UEFA Champions League, Celtic Park
Tuesday, August 18, 2009, 19:45
- Gallas 43,
- Caldwell 71 (og)
Indeed, a very good performance. But a different kind of performance, an efficient performance that saw us “grind out a result”. I’d say Saturday’s performance was more expansive – but at the same time, I’d say that Everton were quite woeful defensively compared to a more defensive minded Celtic who were very organised. It’s clear to see that we’ve adopted a “close down the opposition” tactic this season, which the whole team seems to be working towards.
The two goals were lucky by some measure – the first coming froma big deflection from the back of William Gallas (that’s 2 goals in 2 for the former captain) from a Cesc Fabregas (that’s the 5th goal he’s been involved in this season) which wrong footed the keeper and went in the bottom left of the goal (if you’re the keeper) despite looking like it was going wide.
The second goal coming via the introduction of a stronger, leaner and fitter Diaby – who did look stronger, leaner and fitter – and had hair and had facial hair – but still had that horrible over playing and bad touch…! But a good run from midfield saw him play in Clichy whose cross was deflected in the back of the net by Gary Caldwell.
The game did open up as Celtic tried to get a goal back, but our team grew more tired – and two away games in four days takes it’s toll. With no game today, tomorrow or Friday – a good three day rest before the league home game against Portsmouth is exactly what we need.
The news coming out of Arsenal associated people is that Eduardo has a hamstring injury which may keep him out for a while – I’ll confirm the news as soon as I hear more.
After the game, I’ve heard more press coverage and quotes than any other game I can remember – Arsene, Sagna, Vermaelen, Van Persie and Tony Mowbray all in the press… let’s hear what the gaffer had to say first:
“I think it was a fierce battle. I felt collectively we dominated the game but Celtic were always willing, fighting and counter-attacking. In the end, despite being in control, we scored two lucky goals. It was a big fight tonight and we needed a strong Arsenal side to win the game. The crowd and players were absolutely up for it and I believe with an average performance we would not have won the game today.”
And that’s right – the collective work done by the team was very much a key to the success and the result. Although from some quarters, people say there wasn’t much going on in terms of attack, it was clear to see that the performance was high and that if we had dropped a level, then it would have been a different game.
“We have a good advantage but it’s 180 minutes, we’re ahead after 90. When you want to go through you want to play well for 180 – that’s our purpose. We want to win the home game and of course qualify for the Group Stage. We are in a strong position and we now want to take advantage of that. I believe we have to make sure we win the game at home. It would not be serious to take that game in a non-serious way. It is a massive game, what is at stake is massive to us because we want to play with the best. Even with an advantage of two goals we want to finish the job at home.”
And that game is next Wednesday, 26th August at the Emirates and maybe, just maybe, we will be able to rest one or two if we get an early goal – but whether or not I should be thinking about resting players so early on in the season is quite silly really isn’t it? Isn’t it?
One thing that is always special on a European night is the atmosphere of the grounds around the world and around Europe – and both Rangers and Celtic have always been renowned for the noise in their respective stadiums, and Sagna had something to say about the atmosphere.
It was hard to stay focused on the pitch. It’s difficult to play against this kind of atmosphere. It is one of the most amazing I have ever witnessed. But we did quite well with it. The danger was to come here after such a good win and take it easy but we stayed focused and defended as a team and played as a team. We were confident, we want to play good football and achieve some things this season. It was a strange first goal but that’s football and I think we deserved the luck. They have a good team with good players and we have to be careful [in the return leg].”
Okay, I’ve rambled on about the game for long enough now, so will wrap it up now. A special word to Cesc and Vermalen – both who put in 10/10 performances, dominating both midfield and defence. Awesome stuff…