Shaktar 2 – 1 Arsenal, we made it a hard game…

Morning All…

It wasn’t our greatest game by far yesterday and decisions before the game put us in a little bit of a downer even prior to the players walking onto the pitch, with news that Sagna, Denilson, Song, Arshavin and Chamakh would be rested and Cesc hadn’t recovered in time either. As news broke of each of the absentees, you wondered how seriously Arsene took this game in the first place. The line up was announced, and saw young Eastmond score:

Fabianski

Eboue – Squillaci – Djourou – Clichy

Wilshere – Eastmond

Walcott – Nasri – Rosicky

Bendtner

Our bench consisted of Szcznesy, Sagna, Koscielny, Vela, Lansbury, Chamakh and Emmanuel Thomas… Don’t get me wrong, there was quality in the team selected, but against a Shaktar team ready for revenge, against a team feeling bruised since the defeat at the Emirates. It resembled a little like a Carling Cup team to be honest…

It’s hard to write a match report for the game, there weren’t many Arsenal talking points, except the great goal from Theo Walcott, which really put us in the driving seat. With Shaktar pressing forward, we broke away and an excellent ball from Wilshere into the path of Theo Walcott and the young Englishman wasn’t going to be caught by anyone. He took the ball early, which in the end was the right decision as it was too quick for the keeper and it put us 1-0 ahead…

Shaktar were a little shocked and at that point we could have taken the game to them, but instead we sat back and allowed them to move forward. They are a good team and always posed a threat but the amount of balls we gave away and the lack of urgency we showed was ultimately going to shape the game. Many a time, when a ball was on, we’d misplace the pass – Bendtner being rendered effectively useless by the Shaktar rearguard.

And it wasn’t long before the home team got back into the game, via an own goal by Eastmond. With Denilson, Song, Diaby, Cesc and long term absentee Ramsey all out injured, Eastmond seemed to be the viable option and it was a hard night for him in the Ukraine. A cross came in, flicked on by Chygrynskiy, but headed past the otherwise excellent Fabianski by Eastmond. And it was 2-1 before we knew it, this time through a mistake from Clichy who in any game in which he deemed important would have kick the ball out to touch, but he dilly dallied and Srna nicked the ball and squared to Eduardo for an easy tap in…

The second half brought much more possession, and to be honest, it looked like an “average 4th game in the champions league” after winning the first three. We could have been more attacking, but we were in second gear and maybe it was a bit more of a formality – knowing we have another home game to go, it would always be hard to motivate…

Arsene spoke about the lost urgency and said:

“Congratulations to Donetsk, they played well and won the game. We had a good start but after we lost our urgency and let Donetsk come into the game too much. We lost concentration in the duels and you could see what was coming towards half time. I felt we moved out of the game altogether and moved into the game altogether so it was more of a team problem, a kind of complacency problem more than an individual problem. In the second half we came back into the game and gave a lot so you can’t fault the team. We were a bit unlucky. We have learnt the lesson that at this level you can’t lose focus at any moment and that is why we were punished.”

And that’s basically a good summation on a game that we knew we didn’t have to win.

I’d expect to see Arshavin, Cesc, Song and Sagna back in the starting line up on Sunday, when we take on Newcastle. But for now, I will just remember this game for the Thierryesque goal from Theo and the overall superb play from Jack Wilshere….

Til tomorrow…

  • Berth

    That Arsenal team of yesterday lacked so much maturity. Not that we dont have the players; I mean u have Song, Verminator, Cesc, Arshavin out and you do what? Stuck with Eastmond and Eboue; no organisation in the back, squillaci was made to look like a mad man and djourou a wanderer – This match was more of a confidence killer than a builder. We all know Nov. is a boogy month for us.

  • vj

    My lineup for sunday

    Fabianski

    Sagna Koscielny Squillaci Clichy

    Song Fabregas Denilson (he has played well recently, and we need to DMs to handle Barton and Nolan not mention cave man)

    Walcott Chamakh Nasri

    Arshavin has lost his form and walcott is playing really well 3 goals in 3 games he has to play

  • trevor

    I love Gael Clichy. I think he can be an amazing left-back.

    A couple of years ago I even thought he was going to surpass Ashley Cole and become the best left-back in the world.

    In fact, I even believed Clichy could have become the best left-back I’ve ever seen in my whole entire stinking existence.

    So what has happened?

    For some reason in the last couple of years he has appeared to go backwards and not pushed on with that potential he has shown in the past.

    He seems to have a major error in him at least once a game. Sometimes we are punished when he cocks up, last night being an example, and at other times we get away with it.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with his ability. But I think there is a slight problem mentally perhaps. I’m not saying he is mental like William Gallas or Britney Spears but he must suffer from some kind of mental block at times.

    Clichy seems to get a rush of blood to the head and he loses concentration at crucial times. Either that or he is worried to kick the ball out of play in case he busts a spectators nose or something.

    I’m not trying to kick a man when he is down but his mistake was just basic. And that is embarrasing for someone who plays football for a living.

    If this was just a one-off I’d keep my mouth shut but he has done it so many times in the recent past.

    Cutting out these mistakes can put Gael back up there with the best of them. Ability-wise there isn’t a left-back in the world miles ahead of him. He isn’t far off the likes of Ashley Cole in that respect but his errors will always hold him back.

    Arsene Wenger needs to do something. It isn’t just down to Gael Clichy. Get someone in to help and advise him. And the rest of the defence too. Because if not these mistakes will continue to haunt us.

    Step forward Martin Keown on a full-time basis and not just part-time.

  • Sam

    If we were to lose a game, this would have been the one I would have chosen. This loss won’t make any difference to the outcome of our season.

  • bojinov

    Gutted about the result & performance yesterday, i didn’t think we were gonna get a positive result with the team we had out. Why was Eastmond thrown into a game as important as that? Eboue had me looking for a Cat to kick in the Shepherds Bush area last night, he’s had a good run at Arsenal but surely this has got to be his last season with us. Clichy has history of making mistakes like that, but he’s under no pressure because Gibbs is injured again. The centre of our defence was exposed again & again because we didn’t have an experienced DM playing, in my opinion Frimpong has a better future at Arsenal than Eastmond, even though he needs to work on his passing at least he can tackle & put the opposition under pressure. Words fail me with Bendtner, what does he offer? The 1st goal they scored was tragic, Wilshere get fouled the Ref gives us the advantage to play on & Bendtner gifts the ball to the opposition with his poor touch & control. The hapless Eboue gets turned inside out & then cynically fouls as usual, the freekick is headed into his own goal by our novice DM Eastmond. I watched Bendtner time after time fail to hold the ball up, you could hear the frustration in Alan Smudger Smith’s voice as he gifted the opposition the ball. As a striker he’s not very good in the air, has poor control, no pace & his workrate is pathetic, but apart from that i agree with that him, that he’s the best striker in the world. Does Theo have any awareness, can you buy it or get coached to adapt it into your game? He must be the most frustrating player to play alongside, a real head down merchant who will rely on his pace for the rest of his career. Rant over!! Oh, the positives, Jack Wilshere, thats it.

  • dp

    I really don’t think that last night was a big deal at all – lots of positives to take out like match time and european experience for some, and rest time for others. The latter is much needed with the injuries we have and two matches a week for the whole month.

    Sure it would have been better to have won or drawn but better not to have lost Cesc for another 4 weeks with his hurty hammy in a ‘dead’ game.

    6 fresh out field players for Saturday and then a few of the injuries should be back.

    The real worry was Clichy, he was one of the players you wanted to step up but he showed, again, that he is in poor form. If Gibbs was less of a chocolate teapot he would be first choice by now.

  • goonerman

    perfect summing up of the game dev! I really dont think wenger took the game that seriously, why bother risking our top players thousands of miles away in a game that wont really affect us to much, if anything the next to games ar at home and in portugal so the buisness can be done then, but even in the loss fabianski is carrying on his confident form which can only be a good thing, theo is carrying on the goalscoring form after his injury and the biggest thing is when you compare eastmond to wilshere last night considering eastmond is the older one wilshere’s composure and class on the ball makes him look like a 25 year old compared to eastmond!

  • walter

    I think many people could write a book about us losing yesterday. They could point at the mistake player X made, or at the bad pass player Z made. Or we could blame the ref, which I partly do in fact for the first goal. As he made the mistake of playing advantage when there was no advantage on. And even when Bendtner was dispossessed he still kept giving the advantage signal which looked a bit stupid at the time.

    But as most things in life are simple I just will tell you in a few moments why we lost. And no it was not down to a bad performance by any of our players. Even if we would have had all our players available it wouldn’t have mattered. Even with Cesc on fire we still would have lost. It would have been just one of those days.

    And no it was not down to Shakhtar playing utterly brilliant football. No even with them playing utterly bad we still would have lost the game. It would just have been one of those days for us.

    Even if Theo would have gone on a dozen runs like the magnificent run from which he scored we still wouldn’t have won it on the day. It was just going to be one of those days.

    Even if Fabianski would have produced some stunning saves, you can hardly give him any blame for the goals I would think, still somewhere down the line a ball would have been deflected somewhere and would have crept in. I knew it would be one of those days.

    Even if the ref would have been the best we ever had seen and had a perfect game still something would have happened. The ball would have gone flat at the moment Theo took his shot at goal or something else very strange would happen. A dog running on to the pitch and Theo falling over him when he was going to shoot. We could have known it before kick off.

    In fact I could have known it before and I could have told it to Arsenal so they wouldn’t have to put up the effort of going all the way to Ukraine on a long flight just to lose a game. We could have stayed in London and given them the 3 points. It would have been the same at the end of the day and much cheaper also.

    By now I can imagine some of you thinking: just spit it out Walter. Just tell us what you are talking about.

    The reason we lost is religion. And no I will not start some religious war over here and tell you it’s God, Allah, Bhagwaan, Yahweh or whatever name you can give a god, who is to blame.

    No it is the subdivision of gods that is involved. It is the gods that are known as football gods. It’s a bunch of er…. gods, that sit there somewhere and who arrange things in football how they like it. A ball against the post. This isn’t the players fault, no the football gods didn’t want it to go in. A missed penalty? The football gods made the player slip at the moment he was going to shoot.

    They are just some evil minded gods who just do things as they like them and who enjoy fans feeling miserable. And at the start of each season they see for some things which they will use against all the teams. Because they are not anti-Arsenal. No they enjoy to mess up with all the teams. But they decide the outcome of the games by making their own rules. Rules that are not printed in the newspapers or told about in MOTD. No, one has to look for them and find them yourself to understand them.

    And so I went looking and I found the answer. The answer is “3”. Just 3. Nothing more, nothing less. To understand this you have to go back one month. Go to 3 October and try to remember what you did on 3 October? I give you a clue: you were feeling rather miserable in the evening because on 3 October we lost to Chelsea.

    And now exact one month later on 3 November we lose again, and again we will feel a bit miserable. So for me it is clear to see. It is those evil football gods who have declared at the start of the season: Arsenal will lose their games played on the 3th of each month. So it shall be and so it will be. And they all laughed and found it rather amusing and fun and then went on to the next team and decided it would lose their games when it would rain. Things like that.

    And we could beat Chelsea on any day. We could beat Shakhtar on any day. But not on the 3rd of each month. On that day we have to suffer. Because the football gods have decided it that way. So is this all bad and are we doomed? And are we going to sit down and feel miserable for ourselves and cry a bit?

    Well in fact, no. We are not. Because even if we know we cannot beat the football gods what we can do is check the fixture list and on that list we can see that we don’t play again on the 3th of a month. No games in the EPL on the 3rd for us. The only thing we must avoid is that the home game against Blackburn on April 2nd will be changed to Sunday 3rd.

    No games in the Carling cup on the 3rd for us. No games in the FA cup on the 3rd for us for the moment. In fact there is only one chance that we would play this season on the 3rd of a month. And this would be in May. As the semi final of the CL is played on the 3rd or the 4th of May. So the only way we can be stopped to win the CL is to have some bad luck with the draw and if we would have to play the return leg of the CL semi final on 3 May. But then again if we win the first leg with a big difference even the football gods will have to let us go to the final.

  • Berth

    so the soccer gods made us loose huh! What about the saying dat hevean helps those who help themselves. In my opinion the soccer gods exist but u have to work hard for their sometimes bias decision to fall in our favour.

  • Berth

    * your

  • edison

    ease off the pot walter.

    it was a game we should have won, but we lacked just enough experience down the middle to really create enough chances. nevermind though, the track record of not being able to win in shaktar goes on…

    newc will be an interesting game this weekend, they are going to be stout after a big win against sunderlund. I think wenger will look to the carling cup game, and try and repeat a similar performance.

  • Flamez

    @WALTER

    lol, so whats your explanation for the WBA loss, which was the 25th of the month btw?

    @Edison

    it aint the pot mate :-)

  • walter

    This season Arsenal are running four squads of players, rather than the five that have been used in the past…

    The first team squad (quaintly known as “the 25″)
    The loan squad
    The reserve squad
    The youth squad
    What is quite obviously missing when compared with previous years is the League Cup squad. This season the league cup team is being picked from the 25, as is the Champs League team (at least away in the Ukraine). There is of course still the option to pick youth players who are registered but not in the “25″, but so it is looking as if this would be a one-off, if it ever occurred.

    The benefit of this new approach is twofold. First it means that squad members of the 25 do stand a chance of more games, and second it means that the loans can get moving early, rather than waiting for the league cup run to come to an end.

    And of course this change in approach has come about as a result of the “25″ rule, which prohibits the easy movement of older players around. While we are not particularly challenged by this rule this year, we will be next year when several of our younger players reach 21.

    However I believe the development into four rather than five teams is also the result of something else: the completion of the production line and the maturity of the squad. We were able away to Shakhtar to put out a team that was missing four of the first choice back five, two of the first choice midfield, and two from the forward line. OK we didn’t win, but we still put up a good show.

    That shows just how far this side has come, and just how close we are to getting a “25″ that is going to be truly interchangeable. The time could well come when there is no first choice starting XI – just an ever rotating 25.

    But moving away from the 25, Arsenal currently have 14 players out on loan.

    Benik Afobe – Huddersfield Town
    Nacer Barazite – Vitesse Arnhem
    Kyle Bartley – Sheffield United
    Pedro Botelho – Cartagena
    Francis Coquelin – Lorient
    Thomas Cruise – Carlisle United
    Cedric Evina – Oldham Athletic
    Luke Freeman – Yeovil Town
    Samuel Galindo – Salamanca
    Gavin Hoyte – Lincoln City
    Vito Mannone – Hull City
    Mark Randall – Rotherham United
    Armand Traore – Juventus
    Sanchez Watt – Leeds United
    Not all are making progress, and not all will come through to play for Arsenal. There’s a run down on Arsenal.com and Young Guns does an excellent job in keeping us up to date of course, but here’s a few snippets, and maybe you can help me out with some other news beyond the bare facts and figures of the Arsenal site…

    Kyle Bartley’s got a broken jaw.

    Pedro Bothelo is playing and scoring, but has had passport problems. However I would imagine he’ll get a Spanish passport this year, and that will allow him to join us.

    Francis Coquelin has hardly been playing for Lorient, which surprises me, but then I don’t see the French League, so I don’t really know what’s going on (no change there). But he did play in the last game and apparently did well.

    Gavin Hoyte was on loan at Brighton last year I believe and seems to be slipping down the pecking order.

    Vito Mannone has not yet played for Hull, but is learning how to spit.

    Mark Randall got injured almost as soon as he arrived at Rotherham, and is out for six weeks.

    Similar thing happened to Armand Traore, and he hasn’t played for Juve.

    Sanchez Watts is playing regularly in a very ordinary Leeds team who are struggling to do anything in the Championship.

    Of course as players go out on loan, or (as in the case of JET, Lansbury and Eastmond, move up to the higher levels) the reserves have to pull in new, inexperienced players, and that has affected the team – who in their last match suffered their first defeat, against Villa.

    The team was
    James Shea
    Havard Nordtveit
    Thomas Cruise
    Nico Yennaris
    Sead Hajrovic
    Iganasi Miquel
    Gilles Sunu
    Oguzhan Ozyakup
    Rhys Murphy
    Chuks Aneke
    Conor Henderson
    The result leaves us second, four points behind the leaders Villa, with two games in hand.

    If it is getting tougher in the reserves, it is doubly so in the youth team, who sit in fourth in their league, and have lost their last two matches.

    Overall I guess the trick now would be to try and identify the players who might step up in each case.

    From the loan players I might go for over time would be…

    Benik Afobe – Huddersfield Town
    Kyle Bartley – Sheffield United
    Pedro Botelho – Cartagena
    Francis Coquelin – Lorient
    Thomas Cruise – Carlisle United
    Luke Freeman – Yeovil Town
    Samuel Galindo – Salamanca
    although that’s a fairly wide choice I admit.

    From the reserves, how about

    James Shea
    Thomas Cruise
    Iganasi Miquel
    Gilles Sunu
    Oguzhan Ozyakup
    Rhys Murphy
    Chuks Aneke
    Conor Henderson
    which is hardly any reduction at all. (You can tell I’m an old softy at heart – I want them all to do well).

    And there is Wellington Silva from January of course.

  • trevor

    I cannot believe that Holland have called-up Robin van Persie for their friendly with Turkey on November 17.

    What surprises me even more is that van Persie will actually join up with the Dutch.

    Surely Arsenal should be Robin’s priority?

    It seems he has spent more time off the pitch than on it in recent years so doesn’t he owe it to Arsenal to get fit, actually play for us, earn his wages, and not swan off to play in a meaningless friendly?

    Of course I can understand that being called-up for your country is a major honour and privilege but look at Michael Essien. The Ghanaian has stopped playing for his nation in the short-term to focus on playing for Chelsea.

    Maybe Robin van Persie should do the same thing and focus his career on Arsenal, the club who nurse him though the injuries, the club who pay his wages, and the club who stay loyal to him despite him never being available.

    I’m not having a pop at van Persie here, I just think his priorities are wrong. He owes it to Arsenal, Arsene Wenger and us, the fans, to begin playing regular football.

    Robin, for me, loves Arsenal and clearly loves playing for his country but he needs weigh things up. I’m sure a break from international football would help him in the long-run despite it being painful turning down Holland in the short-term.

    Essien has done it, so can van Persie.