Arsenal 3 – 1 Partizan… We made it…

Morning all…

They say there is no such thing as an easy game in football and when it comes to the Arsenal, that phrase couldn’t be more true. On a cold night at the Emirates, with a 60,000 big crowd, it was always going to be a tricky tie.

Ahead of the game, news filtered in that Gibbs was going to fill in for the flu-stricken Clichy and Denilson was going to fill in for Wilshere, whom I believe was not used tactically as the line up contained two strikers in Robin Van Persie and Maroune Chamakh.

The line up was:

Fabianski

Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Gibbs

Denilson – Song

Nasri – Van Persie – Arshavin

Chamakh

On the bench we had Szcznesy, Eboue, Wilshere, Rosicky, Walcott, Vela and Bendtner.

Partizan wanted to get a result here and I was impressed with the way they came out – defensive, but with two players at every opportunity. They started well, and we couldn’t find space and within the first 15 minutes, the crowd were already chanting the classic worry chant… “Come on Arsenal”…

There was pretty much nothing to write home about – Chamakh was having one of his worst games of the season so far, Denilson looked a little clueless and Arshavin was over elaborate.

We have the ref to thank for awarding what looked like a very soft penalty (I may need to watch the replay again) and Robin Van Persie fired us 1-0 up. In fact, outside of the penalty, we had no shots on target in the first half- very strange for a must win game – but also an accolade to the way they defended.

The first shot on target actually came from a Robin Van Persie freekick outside the box but by then Partizan had equalised with one of their few efforts – heck, it may have been their first shot too – the communication and connection between Squillaci and Koscielny still in need of some improvement!

At this point with 19 minutes to go, it was squeaky bum time – 1-1 here and 0-0 at Shaktar – if either Partizan or Braga scored then we’d be out of the Champions League… Walcott was on for Arshavin and Eboue had already replaced the injured Gibbs… and young Theo put us ahead with a good finish after some pressing from us… The ball ricocheted out to Theo about 6 yards out and the young England international dispatched the ball into the back of the net… Relief was an understatement.

At the same time, news broke around the stadium that Shaktar were 1-0 up and thank God… It started to look like we would qualify… And the sublime Samir Nasri took it upon himself to score a 3rd to put the nerves at rest when some good play from Song got Nasri in and he finished well with his left foot… His twelfth goal of the season!

There was still time for a controversial sending off, when Bacary Sagna was adjudged to have fouled a Partizanian player outside the box and was handed a straight red… I’m not if we can even appeal it. Alex Song slotted in at right back and we saw the game out with 10 men.

Not the best performance by any means, but we won – and we’re through to the next round of the Champions League. It’s going to be a tough one whoever we get as we can only get one of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Schalke. Ouch! That’s a 75% chance of getting one of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich – my money is on Barce, it’s fate!

Arsene commented on our performance…

It was a bit of a low-key game because we didn’t find our pace in the game. We couldn’t find openings in their defence. They defended very well, they were focused on closing us down everywhere. We were just below our normal pace. You have to give them credit, they defended very well and on every single ball they closed us down. I felt our speed of passing was not incisive enough and it was a bit nervous as well.

And singled out Barcelona as favourites… (one of the 4 teams we could meet!)

The potential opponents are there is a 50 per cent chance of travelling to Spain and a 50 per cent chance of travelling to Germany. If you ask me where would you like to go? I don’t know. You [the journalists] might prefer to go to Spain, for us not necessarily.  Let’s be realistic, Barcelona are the super-favourite at the moment but we take what we get and if it is Barcelona it is Barcelona. We have played them already last year and we’ll see.

Top of our league, through to the next round of the Champions League, in the Carling Cup semi finals… I don’t know how we’ve managed to stutter our way to this, but I’ll take it… hopefully we can improve on this and actually win something… I did say “hopefully”…

Til tomorrow mes amigos…

  • Steve Palmer

    Good account of the game, apart from the Richochet to Walcott it was more of a desperate headed clearance but perhaps i am being to critical.
    Arshaven was a waste of space his admission of not being fit is worying, i dont believe he has been fully fit since he joined,not a starter in my eyes.
    We have struggled to find any form since Fabregas’s never ending injury problems persist when he dosn’t play we dont play, we havn’t got a playmaker to equal him,Nasri tries but although he has scored some supurb goals lacks the leadership qualities that Cesc brings to the side, untill the Spainiard reurns to full fittness we will struggle till we buy a playmaker, Sagna’s sending off was very harsh, but understood we leave ourselves open and for that and we get punnished.
    Squillaci was punnished for not getting in to tackle for their goal never go backwards in those situations so close to goal, you must commit and close down as quick as possible, a very bad goal to give away.
    Van Persie took the penalty well after a lot of provocation from the goalkeeper, but on the whole his sharpness is still a long way off
    Song in my opinion is still streets ahead of the rest a few missed passes but his enthusiasm to recoupe is admirable.
    Eboue not my favorite player but on the night playing out of position did the job well, as for the rest not much to say.
    I would like to congratulate Arsne Wenger for still keeping our record books going 13 years and still qualifying a great achievement it must be said

    achievment

  • tesa

    It seems as if he’s already conceeding to Barca. Every dog and his donkey knows it if we get Barca they will rip us apart – God help us if we get them coz i can see the scoreline becoming embarrasing.

  • tesa

    To be honest I cant remember when I last enjoyed a arsenal game and thats weird seeing as where we find ourselves. I said after the spuds game that we could find ourselves top of the league, in the carling cup semis and through to the knock out stages of the champions league after the next four games and that is what has happened but did I enjoy any of them? Villa? No, not untill the 91st minute, wigan, no! Fulham, no! and last night? Not a chance. It was horrible. A wins a win but there was nothing last night, no confidence, no bite it was weird. Walcott was rubbish apart from his goal, denilson, well! how many times have we seen that expression on his face when he gets the ball nicked off him from behind? or when the ball leaves his foot and he is looking where he wants it but it goes straight to the opposition? OHH, and Fabianskis kicking!!! aHHHHH, he doesnt want it! stop passing it back to him!! he kept shifting it onto his left foot, taking too much time and panicing! scary stuff! I’m terrified of Utd on monday, we could end up giving them a massive confidence boost and they could use that to go through the season unbeaten, nobody wants that sh?t, thats our crown!!!!

  • yemi

    If we really are a top team, we should be able to play anyone, but we are not yet there. Lets start beating the top teams in england b4 we start thinking of rubbing shoulders with the likes of barca, madrid etc. Those are the teams that i consider above us in the world for now. Not shalke, or bayern. In england we have man u and chelsea. We need to beat man u on monday to lay to rest man u and wait for the chelsea opportunity.

  • Tres

    If we defend like that then we will get killed by UTD

  • devday

    @ Steve Palmer:
    In regards to the leadership issue – it’s evident to see that when Cesc is out of the team, we do have problems – Robin was back but he doesn’t seem to have the motivationalness of Cesc.

    In regards to Arshavin, I was happy with his display – he doesn’t seem to be effective for 90 anymore and it does seem like he has got less and less fit after joining us!

  • Berth

    Utterly rubbish guys! your opinion about the leadership qualities of Cesc is false he hasn’t got any leadership qualities and what do you folks make of Arshavin,Wilshere and Rosicky’s creative qualities – these guys have all been saving our a** since Cesc’s injury and you criticize like they don’t even exist.You guys ask for too much – “spoilt fans”.

  • funty

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that Arsenal’s season depends on the two centre backs either improving dramatically over the next month or Monsieur Wenger buying an established replacement in January: not a bargain-basement unknown from a small French club, but a world class player and world class team man, who can slot in immediately, whom his team mates like, a leader and captain in the absence of Fabregas. Vermaelen might be back in January, might be back in March; it’s obvious that Arsenal can’t allow this event to determine their season and can’t simply do nothing. The problem is that players such as the one I describe above aren’t available, even for the silly sums of money that the Man Cities pay: Lescott ? Is he any better than the defenders in Arsenal’s existing squad ? Cahill ? Jagielka ? Why would Bolton and Everton sell these players unless they are forced to for financial reasons ?

  • funty

    Berth – I agree – Cesc is not a leader – good player yes but leader NO way, As usual wenger gets scared so he throws the player the bait of captaincy

  • edison

    @funty – bargain basement defender ? wenger spend around £15m on the pair of kosielny and squillaci (i think !) and still the problem isnt fixed. Vermaelen is desperately missed. he was incredible last season, wait till he is back and fit and i think our defence will be on track.

    I dont know what everyone is moaning about, arsenal although nervy, are winning games – thats all that matters at the moment. We are in the carling cup semi final, through past the group stage of the champions league – oh and did i mention we are TOP OF THE LEAGUE ?

    everyone needs to sit back and just understand how well we are doing, 85% of games have been played with a new striker Chamakh and we are at the top of the league. Not many teams can bring a new forward in like that and instantly do so well.

    Okay our defence is shaky and not solid, but as long as chelsea keep drawing games and even losing a few, we arent going anywhere!

  • Jeffo

    so the question is funty are you also Raging ball on the bbc web site commenting on Phil Mcnulty’s blog or just another fan of the copy and paste?????

  • funty

    We will see after the UTD game eh!

  • grahamlondon

    I can see why he’s said it, the timing says it all really. He’s trying to unsettle us but really, Wenger should be using this sort of thing to motivate the squad and squeezing out that extra 1-2% that could be critical on Monday night.

    If there is one comment that Evra could regret it is the “10 years” one. Oh, how I would love to fast-forward to see how wrong he turns out to be!

  • Tom

    @ Grahamlondon
    he says something wanky everytime we play man u.. and as fun as it is seeing our players smash him up come game night, i just hope they concentrate more on the winning the game than him

  • grahamlondon

    It is just 3 points. 3 points lost would not end our season, 3 points gained would not gift us silver. I have tried to take this rational thought and run with it but deep down i can still feel the bile rising after reading evra’s comments. I hate united, they make me sick. Their squad is full of players that summarize the money grabbing, whoring, cheating, drug taking, honourless football world that is the very antithesis to what Arsenal have been about since Wenger took over. To often have we been the better team in technique, style, skill and posession but lost due to moments of weakness or stupidity (diaby’s own goal anyone? Gallas’ handball?). I cant remember the last time we played united where we’ve had all our key players and/or they did not have theirs and without fabregas or vermaelen we are weaker. I wish we had Viera to smash their courage to pieces in the tunnel prior to kick off. I wish we had theirry to single handedly silence old trafford with a sublime finish. I wish we had keown so that they may fear us and cower at our passion. Screw it, i’m so desperate to win i can almost taste it, i want united put down, their unbeaten run ended in their own home. I want Nasri and the russian to run rings around rafael and rio (the weak links), I want Song to decimate scholes if he even attempts to ‘tackle’ Nasri and show fletcher that two can play at the ‘antifootball’ challenges. I want RVP to show he is back with sublime backheels, delicate chips and left foot curlers. I want rosicky to weave the intricate patterns of old. I want theo to make evra pant when he comes on in the 70th, i want denilson to stay on the bench, i want wilshere to show fergie where the future lies. I want to win, no in fact i need to win. i bloody demand it!

  • tesa

    @glondon 10-0 to who? You dont seriously believe this would have any effect on the Arsenal players do you? For it to fire them up they would need some passion burning inside them in the first place. Did you see that passion on Wednesday? Or against Spurs? Or in any of the big games in the last few seasons? I actually agree with you that this should be pinned to the dressing room wall but Wenger doesnt use these kind of motivation techniques. I dont think he uses any kind. What will probably happen is our French contingent will be hugging Evra in the tunnel before the game and it will have no effect on the result whatsoever.

  • Tm17

    LOL @ grahamlondon “i want denilson to stay on the bench”!!!

  • Vazy

    screw fifa! they went against their word to us! Wellington wont be granted a special work permit… first ronaldinhio … Bastards!

    hxxp://www.givemefootball.com/premier-league/ronaldinho-ruling-costs-arsenal-another-samba-star

  • Vazy

    i hate them so much…