Brilliant football from the first minute was the perfect way to forget the disappointment of the weekend. Every single Arsenal player was up for this game and that meant only one result was possible. Top spot in the group has been achieved and a platform for the Chelsea game established.
There are two types of Arsenal games; one where you hope something will click and we will get a goal and the other when you know it’s just a matter of time before the score starts ticking. We dominate every game when the front line and the midfield move around seemingly effortlessly. We also create plenty of chances (25 on goal – 11 on target) in such games.
Arshavin did a Bendtner to keep our record of not scoring in the first fifteen minutes intact. It was little surprise that the first goal came when Standard’s best defender was off the pitch! Nasri once again showed that his finishing skills are as good as any strikers. An interesting bit was the long ball from Vermaelen. I think our Belgian defender has enough ability to make some killer passes and he should use that more often.
The second goal was a crisp opportunistic strike by Denilson. He didn’t look like a guy who has been out for weeks, did he!? The Brazilian has a knack for putting in important workmanlike performances. And if he can chip in with such goals regularly, it will make him immensely valuable to the squad.
We could easily have scored a lot more. Arshavin, Vela and Cesc went close. In such games the final goal count doesn’t matter as the result is never in any doubt. Although we did switch off during patches and Standard, to their credit, hit the woodwork twice. I do wonder what can possibly make our players concentrate for the duration of each game.
Arsene got the balance right with the starting eleven. Vela was rewarded for his patience and hard work in training with a rare start. I thought the young Mexican showed intelligent movement and quick feet. He certainly has the craft and it’s down to him to put in the required graft and evolve as a great striker.
The substitutions, on the other hand, did seem a little strange to me. I thought it might have made sense to give El Capitan a rest. He looked really tired towards the end. The introduction of Rosicky in Denilson’s defensive position was equally surprising. Thankfully, the visitors didn’t have the talent to pressurize us in the final few minutes.
The worst part of this game was undoubtedly the injuries to Gibbs and Gallas. How unlucky can a player get? After having a good match, the young Englishman was caught by a horrible studs first challenge. Some might question the need for him to be in such an advanced position at a late stage in the game, especially given our injury concerns. But to my mind this injury is down to the incompetence of UEFA administrators and referees.
It seems to me that UEFA instructs refs to be conservative in their decision making. That is the only explanation for ignoring various penalty claims and showing a lenient attitude towards tough tackling. In such cases, there is always a chance that some crazy challenge will hurt a player seriously. How can anyone justify Gibbs missing three months of action while the guy who made the terrible tackle doesn’t even get a card!
Hopefully the collision between Gallas and Arshavin will not cause any lasting damage. The last thing we need is for our players to find new ways of getting injured. I was really surprised that WG10 wasn’t subbed immediately. One look at him was enough to know that he shouldn’t be playing. It’s times like this when Arsene betrays his own trust in the depth of the squad.
Anyway, I am happy with the booster dose of confidence and can’t wait for Sunday.