AZ Alkmaar Analysis and Wolves Preview

Sometimes a team plays well and wins, sometimes a teams plays badly and loses, and of course, as we know, sometimes a team plays extremely well and loses… so the idea is to get the balance right… Arsene’s philosphy is to play well and win, and sometimes such as the games against Man United and Man City, it doesn’t always work.

Well, against the rest of the teams we’ve played this season, it’s virtually worked a treat and we’ve been playing some of the most attractive football in the league. Beating Sp*rs 3-0 at home was awesome, our second half display really showed them up – the win against Liverpool also showed a good mix of youth, experience, efficiency and dazzling football… but the game against AZ Alkmaar was simply inspired.

Arsenal 4 – 1 AZ Alkmaar

The line up saw the absence of Clichy (who’s out for at least 4 weeks) and also saw Sagna rested. Almunia kept his place in goal and Samir Nasri started his first game of the season.

The starting XI was:


Eboue – Gallas – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Song – Diaby

Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

The game started well, and Gibbs was immediately effectful bombing forward on the left, linking up well with Andrei Arshavin. We’re lucky down at the Grove that we have a factory of left backs, and each one looks better than the last. Clichy is definitely a better all round player than Ashley Cole was… and Traore looks like a carbon copy of Clichy and now Kieran Gibbs looks like he has the attributes of all three mixed together.

The first chance fell to Van Persie, but the build up play was simply sensational. Cesc holding it in the middle went on a run after losing his marker, pinging the ball into the path of Arshavin – one touch to Diaby, who one touched it to Nasri, who backheeled it to Arshavin first time, who pinged it out to Van Persie with his first touch. Van Persie then (with his first touch) passed the ball passed the defender and with his second touch, shot on goal, only for the keeper to save it!

And it wasn’t long until the first goal came. Some excellent passing around the box, with Gallas joining the attack, overloading the area around the box, passed it out to Cesc, who took it one step in and then two steps in and then hit the ball low and hard into the bottom left hand corner.

And one became two before the break, when some direct running from Arshavin played Nasri through whose excellent shimmy lost the defender and the player steered the ball around the keeper.

And the goals continued in the second half when Diaby cut out a loose ball, played it to Arshavin first time, who timed his through ball to Cesc so well, it put the captain through and what a finish from the 22 year old. He opened up his body as if to go far post and then finished well into the near post, sensational stuff.

I’m only really covering the goals, but there were chances galore through out the game, with Nasri, Cesc and Arshavin simply sensational. Gibbs was also immense, and nearly got a goal himself when Andrei Arshavin played him, striking the ball narrowly wide.

Three became four in real style, when under attack, we got the ball, and passed it quickly and efficient around our own box, and within about 3 seconds, via Nasri to Eduardo (whos 20 yard back heel through ball was just simply sublime), put through Arshavin, who squared to Diaby for the Frenchman’s fourth of the season.

Az did get a controversial consolation goal, when one of their players hand balled in the area, the penalty wasn’t given, and before we knew it, then went down the other end and managed to beat Almunia at his near post…

The game was simply sensational. I watched the game through Arsenal TV Online on my flight to Toronto and still haven’t seen half the game, as the highlights were only 12 minutes, but what a great 12 minutes of football they were!

Before I look at Arsene’s comments, here’s what RVP, Nasri and Eboue had to say post match:

Van Persie talked about the enjoyment the team are having playing together but also realises that nothing is won yet, saying:

“It is still early. We’ve played 10 games in the league. We’ve had a quarter of the season basically. We’re having a good run. We’re enjoying ourselves and we hope that we can keep it going.”

Nasri, starting his first league game of the season, and scoring, spoke about our chances in the Champions League:

“We’re more mature than last year. I think we can do something great in the Champions League. We need just one point from two games. I think after the game we’ll have qualified.”

And finally Eboue gave his comments on whether we were capable of winning the Champions Leagye this season:

“Why not? Why not? We can win, but we just have to continue like this and try to give 100 per cent on the pitch. Why not? We can. We can do it. If you play well and work very, very hard you can do it.”

It’s obviously too early to predict anything, and Van Persie is right, it’s only a quarter of the season. November is normally our bad month, so fingers crossed we can get through the next 3 weeks winning all our games. If we do do that, it will put us firmly on the top of the table, where our quality of football surely should put us.

Just before I take a look ahead to tomorrow’s game, here’s Arsene’s overview of the game:

“It was a brilliant performance because we dominated our subject technically, tactically and overall we felt never under threat. We played with the needed confidence, technically astute, overall very happy. We are consistent and this season it looks like we go for game to game and get stronger and stronger. It’s important to keep that attitude to progress, to improve and to play for each other even more. Then we can believe in our future.”

Wolves vs Arsenal
Molineux, 5.15pm Saturday

So, next up is Wolves away – and this will be a much tougher game that it looks. Wolves have had a decent start to the season and got a few wins under their belt already this season. Their squad looks decent and they could well stay in the Premiership at the expense of West Ham or Portsmouth. And it’s essential that we learn from that game against West Ham. This is our next away day in the league after that game and we need to be fully focused to take the points. The good news regarding the game is that we’ve not picked up any new injuries since the AZ game. The bad news being that we’ve still got a whole host of players out.

It’s a tough decision to see who will start – all 5 of our available attackers (Van Persie, Eduardo, Nasri, Rosicky and Arshavin) have been playing very well. I’d expect maybe Nasri to be on the bench as he’s just played a full game and maybe Rosicky to come in for him. Eduardo surely deserves a start too, so it’s a hard one.

Personally, I think Arsene will try to keep the team the same as possible, so I think we’ll see the following starting XI:


Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Song – Diaby

Rosicky – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

With Sagna coming back in for Eboue and Rosicky back in for Nasri. If Arsene does indeed name that line up, I’d expect a bench of:

Mannone, Eboue, Silvestre, Senderos, Ramsey, Nasri and Eduardo.

Okay, that’s it for now, but as I’m staying in a hotel at the moment, I hope to get the Wolves game on ESPN…

  • wills

    Apparently, Craig Eastmond has won a place in the Arsenal squad for the game today? Wondering who’s place he would take on the bench? Senderos perhaps?

  • sam

    Congratulations to RVP for his “player of the month” for October.
    We’re about to see more from him, starting today @ wolves.

  • sam

    Wham, Bam, thank you Wolves!
    3-0 to the Gunners, 2 own goals & another one from Captain Fantastic.