Standard Liege 2 – 3 Arsenal
UEFA Champions League, Maurice Dufrasne Stadium
Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 19:45
Okay, did anyone else shout at the television yesterday? Apologies for the delay in the match report… it was certainly a crazy night of football yesterday. As you’re all very probably aware by now, we went down 2-0 int he first 5 minutes, eventually to come back to win the game 3-2. Had we not had the atrocious start, it would have been a different game altogether… it looked like Liege were intent on attacking, and if we hadn’t conceded so early on, we may have been able to play a more naturally attacking / counter attacking game.
The early two goals put the home team 2-0 up and from that point, they obviously had a good lead to try and defend, knowing we’d go for them and also try and counter attack. Credit to the home team, they really pushed us. The two goals conceded coming from two mistakes – firstly Eduardo back heeling in a dangerous area, falling to a Liege player and then Mannone failing to save a goal at his near post, whilst being stationed at his near post.
Moments later Gallas tripped a Liege player in the area, and before we knew it, it was 2-0 to Liege.
“We were caught cold by a team who were really ready and started out of the blocks at full power. When you go 2-0 down after five minutes, you know you have a big task in front of you. To win away from home in the Champions League and score three goals, you know it will be tough. You are in a position where you have to attack with full power, without restriction, and know that the next goal will kill you. We were in a position where we could not afford to conceded a third goal, but had to try to come back to 2-1 at least before half time, which is what we did.”
From then it was project recovery… and recover is what we did. Of course, at 2-0 down, the football becomes less free flowing and more efficient, whilst looking for gaps in the defence and areas to expose. In the first half, on the stroke of half time, a good run by Diaby and precision pass played in Bendtner who finished well to make it 2-1 to the home team. Our first half performance did leave much to be desired and most players were misplacing their passing and making the wrong decisions.
The second half is where we changed the game. Personally, I’m convinced I saw a different Cesc in the second half to the first half. We had more intent, closed down better and showed more “want to win”… The equaliser came through Vermaelen – who has continued his impressive performances for us as he bundled home an attempted shot by Alex Song after Cesc floated in a free kick. Maybe an element of handball, but you take the luck with the… unluck…. I think…
The winner came through Eduardo’s knee cap and he bundled the ball from a corner… all in all a scrappy game, but a good three points considering the start we had and the fact we were away in the Champions League.
“In the second half, the game dropped a bit in physical intensity. When they got tired, we got some set pieces and took advantage of it. It can happen to anybody to be caught like that, and to win at the end of the game, you need to be very strong, especially on a night like that where Standard gave absolutely everything. They played like a Cup Final tonight with full commitment, and they deserve a lot of credit as well.”
And that’s a wrap… time to put this game (and the last three) behind us and get on with the Premiership!
In other news, Emmanuel Adebayor has been handed a three match ban for his stamp on Robin Van Persie – he’s also potentially facing another 2 games for the celebration… the statement on the FA website read:
“A Regulatory Commission today considered the charge of violent conduct issued against Manchester City’s Emmanuel Adebayor under the fast-track disciplinary procedure, following an incident with Robin van Persie during their fixture against Arsenal on the 12 September. Taking into consideration Mr Adebayor’s acceptance of the charge of violent conduct the Regulatory Commission have ordered that he serve a three-match suspension from all football, commencing Thursday 17 September. A separate charge of improper conduct will be considered at a later date. “
I am still in a little shock how badly Adebayor behaved throughout the game – I really don’t consider us the bad guys in this whole episode – in fact, I am more than sure that Arsene knew Ade was a bad apple that needed to leave before he created more disharmony… Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what he did when he was here, but thanks and good bye… I don’t think he’s a bad player either, but we’ll see come the end of the season what type of player he really is.
News ahead of Saturday’s game is that Denilson is out for the next three to four weeks with a back injury and Arhavin and Almunia also both look likely to miss the game this weekend, so it’s all touch and go still, with a lot of people out injured at the moment. It looks like Mannone will start on Saturday and Szczesny may make his Carling Cup debut on Tuesday…
Okie dokie boys and girls, back tomorrow with a Arsenal vs Wigan preview…