First of all apologies for the quick fire blog this morning. My night was somewhat prolonged last night after a friend offered me a lift to save me time leaving the stadium but then made both of us waiting outside an hour after the game for our golden chariot. Sometimes it’s just easier to stick to your original plan in life… lesson firmly learnt. Never the less I did meet Giles Grimandi and give that Spuds player Benoit Esso-ekotto (or whatever) a good stare out as he walked away from watching our game.
Anyway enough of my life, back to The Arsenal . After the amazing scenes of Saturday afternoon, it maybe wasn’t that surprising that we came down to earth with a small and sobering bump. With Marseille getting back to some sort of form in Ligue 1, with 3 wins in a row, their confidence was higher going into this game.
The team from last night was:
Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos, Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Gervinho. Park.
It was Marseille that started the brighter with a couple of shots whistling past the post and curling over the bar from the latest new Henry, Remy. They immediately showed more attacking threat than they did for the entire game in Marseille.
Arsenal did eventually create a clear opening when Theo was put through on the right but his shot was saved low by their keeper.
The entertainment of the first half was the ever uber confident Szcz deciding to do a Cruyff turn not once, but TWICE on a Marseille player on the right edge of his box after a back pass. The guy has confidence/cockiness like I’ve never seen before but I do love it. He will soon get caught out and drop a clanger but he’s almost earned the right to do this and learn from it. In other words I’m saying he’s earned one f*ck up!
The first half was an end to end battle with both defences being opened up through the pace of the attacks. Next to spurn an opening was Ramsey, who got underneath a cross 3 or 4 yard outside of the goal. Remy went close again and Ramsey has the best chance of the half but seemed to wait an eternity before shooting it into the defender when clean through.
The second half was nowhere near a classic and my notes on the 2nd half are nonexistent. Marseille seemed full of energy and determined not to give us any room in midfield. As soon as a red shirt picked up the ball, they were surrounded by 2 players cutting off the options. Frustrating to watch if you’re an Arsenal fan but encouraging if you’re a fat looking water carrier. The only event of note for me was from the substitute RVP who tried to lob a standing keeper (a la Bergkamp) but it was comfortably saved.
In the end Arsenal and Marseille shared the spoils with a point a piece with a 0-0 draw. Not the worst result in the world but not the best. In my opinion, 4 points home and away to Marseille is acceptable. Some will say we should always win this kind of game at home but having picked up all 3 points away, a point at home is just about tolerable.
The boss said:
We defended very well and tried very hard but lacked the quality in the final third to finish off our chances. We had a few in the first half. Aaron Ramsey had two and Robin van Persie in the second half as well.Overall it was a very difficult game. Marseille were physically very impressive and closed us down at every opportunity. We lacked match sharpness after our performance at Chelsea on Saturday.
Leaving Robin on the bench was a gamble that did not come off, but he was very tired after Saturday’s efforts. I took the gamble to rest him although he had the chance to score when he came on, which would have been the perfect play. Now we want to win the Dortmund game at home, but overall we are in a good position. It was also important that we kept a clean sheet tonight.
RVP being on the bench was no surprise to anyone in the pub beforehand. After Park’s goal last Tuesday and RVP’s miracle work on Saturday, it was sensible change. If Ramsey and Gervinho had converted their chances in the first half, the gamble would have paid off.
For me there were two standout players, Song and Vermaelen. Song had his work cut out against an extremely combative and determined Marseille midfield. He was a very effective screen for the defence and won more 50 50’s than lost. He is often given a hard time for taking the ball forward and losing it but he wants to help the team create when they need it, I’m sure there were no complaints when he set up Santos’ goal against Chelsea.
Vermaelen looks like he’s ready to make up for lost time. He clicked very well with Mertesacker and was willing to close down Marseille attackers while Pers held the line. TV won countless 50 50’s and a couple of key last ditch tackles. With Koscielny on the bench too, our centre back options don’t look too bad.
I really don’t think we need to over analyse this point today, yes it could have been more but after the buzz of Chelsea , a slightly lacklustre display shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. We are still in complete control of our group and have Dortmund at home next. A win against Dortmund and we’re through as probable winners. Next up is WBA in the league; let’s concentrate on getting 3 points at home.
Have a good Wednesday and mind you don’t fall over like John Terry.
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