Easy Win Made Hard, Fabregas Doubters Can Stuff It

When I saw the starting line-up I was a bit worried. We knew Van Persie, Vermaelen and Walcott will be missing but we also had three second choice defenders and a fifth choice midfielder who is just a kid. Add to this the inexperience of the central defenders against the Rugby style and I thought we are in for a hard but winnable game.

As things turned out, it was a much easier game than I’d imagined. Bolton were rubbish. Don’t be fooled by what the pundits say, they didn’t make this game difficult for Arsenal. We had four or five easy chances in the first half-hour or so and we made our lives difficult by not taking them. Bolton played with two strikers and that made it really easy for our midfield to control the centre. I’ll discuss these issues in the article focussed on tactics and technicalities. For now, Arsenal should have buried the game, and with the chances we got we’d have, red card or no red card.

That brings me to the ref. He was shocking, pathetic. That means almost like any other official in the League so I can’t really single him out. I thought he should have sent Davies off for two yellow cards when he showed him his first. If you see the foul Gibbs was booked for, there is no reason to say Davies’ foul on Rosicky didn’t deserve a booking.

I’d also say his head butt on Koscielny was a booking at the very least. Many people don’t realize that a bad challenge with one’s head can be just as bad as a late tackle on the ground. And make no mistake Davies was late with that challenge, really late. And he was fully aware of what he was doing.

Justice was done when Stuart Attwell sent Cahill off for a two footed lunge. Many will defend him, which is really unfortunate, but if you look at the tackle carefully; Cahill had both feet in the air, both were high, and both were studs first. Just because he didn’t make enough contact with Chamakh to break his legs doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a red card offence. In fact, if for a year the refs in the Premiership give out red cards for such fouls we will surely see a rise in quality of football across all teams.

Diaby who came on the hour for Wilshere was hurt by another shocking tackle by Robinson. This time the ref didn’t take any action and that just compounded his mistakes. I hope the Frenchman hasn’t suffered any serious damage.

About the goals, the first one came from sustained pressure on a set-piece. Wilshere was on the ball 30 yards out when Fabregas made a brilliant diagonal run at the far post. The youngster picked him out with a peach of a ball and Cesc cushioned it into the danger area. Koscielny was first to pounce on the ball and after a bit of pin-ball he stabbed it home. It was great to see Koscielny on the score sheet. He’s had a good start and this will help his confidence. I was impressed by his poaching instincts and desire to be first to the loose ball.

The equalizer for the thugs came from a long ball. Davies, or was it Elmander, won the first ball while no one tracked the run of Lee. Koscielny tried to head it towards Eboue but ended up putting it between the Right Back and the Keeper. Almunia was exposed but did well to push Lee wide. Eboue didn’t sprint back to challenge Lee and there was no one marking Elmander. That meant Lee had a lot of time to pick his man and Elmander had a free header in the six yard box with the Keeper stranded. Once again the defence screwed the keeper and it was a collective failure to deal with a long ball.

We got the lead with some great work by Fabregas. He took the ball to the by-line and picked out Chamakh with his left foot. The Moroccan hung in the air before powering it past Bogdan. After that it was easy.

Song, who was too far forward on many occasions, scored with a deft flick. His first touch to get past Knight was delightful, and the vision to dink it past the keeper was brilliant. Vela got on the score sheet as Fabregas put an Arsenal player through for the umpteenth time in the game. Nice goal for his confidence and a finishing lesson for Arshavin and Rosicky!

Before I get into the thoughts on individual performance, I want to note that City, Tinies, and United have all drawn. The Mancs had a tough game but blew a two goal lead and that’s the second consecutive away game where they failed to hold on to a lead! Do they need an English spine, strength in depth, or what? I’ve not seen the City game but it’s not surprising that they’re struggling to open teams up even at home. How long does Mancini have? I hope he gets long enough to screw their season. The Tinies couldn’t even win at West Brom. No disrespect, but the Baggies are a team that plays a relatively open style and should not have been tough to beat with all those “international players” in the Spuds line-up. It’s a different matter that WBA probably deserved a win. Gallas was left for dead by Fortune in the build up to the equalizer and in general he was quite poor. This is fun.

Also, did anyone see how the ref blew his whistle just as Everton were building an attack? Sometimes it’s so blatant we don’t even have to say how the refs play for United.

Individual Performances

Almunia: Didn’t do much wrong. Certainly not at fault for the goal. Came out on a couple of occasions when he should have stayed back but that’s down to some hesitancy by defenders. Was talking to the centre backs and telling them what to do.

Eboue: He had a decent game overall but switched off for the goal. When Lee ran onto the loose ball the Ivorian should have been sprinting back to close him down but he was lingering on the edge of the box.

Koscielny: Scored a good goal, won many headers, and did well in a difficult battle with aerial balls and physical strikers. Made a wrong choice – should have headed it away from the goal.

Squillaci: Another one who won some headers, made a few clearances, made 40 passes all successful, looks like another brilliant signing.

Gibbs: He really surprised me. The thugs targeted his wing but he dealt with most of the pressure despite lack of support from Arshavin. He was impressive going forward and put in a couple of accurate crosses. Will surely get many more games this season and that will help Clichy remain fresh as well as competitive.

Song: Did well in the physical battles, and was reliable with his passing, tackling, interceptions and blocks. I was surprised he pushed forward so often. Was he given the license to go forward? I thought he should have stayed back, our defenders needed some support with the second ball.

Fabregas: As good as any three players on the pitch put together. Incredible physical strength, amazing work rate, superb vision and execution, and led by example. Would have had half a dozen assists if the finishing had been clinical. The through balls were inch perfect but the one that sent Chamakh through showed unbelievable technique. It hung in the air, fell at the right spot, and spun into the path of the striker while going away from the defender! The one that set up Vela was similar.

Wilshere: Probably the weakest link in the team. I don’t mean it as a criticism but he went missing on many occasions. Was disposed easily a couple of times and didn’t look comfortable under pressure. Fabregas was forced to drop deep time and again as Wilshere wasn’t able to take the ball from defence and move it forward. I think he was given this game so that he can learn how hard it is at this level and the experience will be invaluable.

Rosicky: Didn’t do justice to his talent. Missed a couple of clear chances, gave the ball away at times, also had some very good moments. We can get away with such an effort at home but he needs better concentration. We all know he has the skills to perform at a much higher level.

Chamakh: Excellent work rate, good physical presence, contributed in defence, and scored a first class header.

Arshavin: Should have had a hat-trick. I was disappointed with his finishing but not surprised. It was good to see that we got him through so often. All through last season I was wondering how we don’t get in behind teams like Bolton when they push up to the half way line. He got another assist and that’s a big positive. Has already equalled his assists tally from last year!

Subs: Diaby was unfortunate, Denilson looked comfortable, Vela finished well.

On the whole a big, big show of depth by Arsenal. In the preview I’d hoped for a Chamakh goal, Fabregas back to his best, and a clean sheet. I knew the last one was optimistic 😉

39 Responses to Easy Win Made Hard, Fabregas Doubters Can Stuff It

  1. Chris R says:

    Fine article. I was similarly impressed, and we have made a great start to the season. We should win our next 2 League games before the showdown with Chelsea at the Bridge. If we can get 7 points from our next three games it will be fantastic.

  2. Metalhead says:

    You’re right, for some reason the pundits thought Arsenal were lucky (especially with the sending off and all). I think if Arsenal were lucky Bolton would have lost the game 8-1 while only managing to retain 9 players on the field, come the end of the game!
    One more thing I’m sure you’ve thought about this, but you don’t like rating players, do you? 🙂

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah, only when Wenger talks about the ref he is a whinger. Everyone else can go on and on about it even when most of the decisions were against Arsenal!

      I don’t do ratings because I don’t understand how putting a number in front of a name means anything. Saying a player got 7 out of 10 means what exactly? Does it mean that he played at 70% of his potential? Or that he played at 70% of what we expect from him? Or 70% compared to the best in that position?

      Then there is the performance like Fabregas had in this game. Even if you give that 10/10, can you really justify giving anyone else a 5? Fabregas was so good that a number just cannot do him justice.

      I can appreciate that people like to instinctively put a number to what they thought the performance deserved. No problems with that but it’s not my thing. I prefer discussing specific details as a student of the game.

  3. Good performance,despite the absence of some key players,they still went ahead & won by 4 goals;it show the team is maturing.

  4. Brightwub says:

    Nice analysis. . . . I thought diaby should have been in the starting lineup coz fabregas could have had more freedom to go forward, have more assists and probably get into the scope sheet. Arshavin had many nice moves but should have had atleast one goal. Vela should be given more time.Squilaci seems decent.

    • desigunner says:

      I’ve a feeling Wenger respects Braga a lot more than Bolton which is understandable. Also, the French players played full 180 minutes under a lot of pressure so he might have thought it’s best to give them a break.

  5. ray turner says:

    read your article yesterday

    spot on !! can we win the league?? fuck i hope so god bless you dad in heaven

    • desigunner says:

      As long as we don’t end up losing 8-10 players (3-4 in the same area) to injury we have a very good chance of winning the League. We certainly have the depth to cope with 5-6 injuries without many problems.

  6. Eduardo1967 says:

    I thought the sending off was harsh to be fair, but Bolton should have finished with eight men! Robinsons challenge on Diaby was the worst tackle I have seen against Arsenal since Ramsey’s broken leg. He was so high and late I was surprised and thankful Diaby walked off the pitch. Kevin Davies headbutt deserved at least a yellow, again very late and dangerous

    • desigunner says:

      Normally, the kind of tackle that Cahill got sent off for gets a yellow. We’ve seen that often enough in the league. From that point of view I can agree that it was not a red.

      But if we actually debate from the point of view of the rules; Two-footed, high, studs up – then I feel it can be given. I think Arsene said something similar i.e. it can go either way.

      I think the debate would be whether a tackle that doesn’t cause much damage but is potentially dangerous, worthy of a red card?

      The other two were probably much worse. Wenger said Diaby can’t move his leg right now. So we don’t know how bad the damage will be. Fingers crossed.

  7. dw says:

    cesc was the best player on the fleid by a country mile. Arshavin should have been subbed long before the 60min. Song needed to stay back a lil more but his goal was terrific.

    I think wenger will play jack in as many games as he can, the sort of run that denilson got when everyone thought he didnt deserve it. I do however think he is not completly ready for it.

    Gibbs was outstanding,he will be giving clichy a run for his money. Would like him to play the champions league game on wednesday.

    • desigunner says:

      I think our team is good enough to carry one or two players who are still learning, especially at home. That’s how they develop. Wilshere needs to put his head down and work hard, hopefully he will develop at an astonishing pace.

  8. Dhruv says:

    I agree about Jack. However to see him complete that pass to Fabregas for the first goal was an absolute joy.

    • desigunner says:

      Yes it was a very well measured ball. Just beyond the keeper and the defenders and straight into the path of Cesc. I guess Fabregas would have been proud of it himself.

      • gunner_expat says:

        True if you see the aftermath of that goal..Kos, Squill, and Cesc were in the box. Kos ran of to the corner to celebrate followed closely by Sqill…but if you look at cesc, he instantly points his finger towards jack and starts running towards him!
        pretty cool.

      • desigunner says:

        Good point. I noticed that in the highlights later.

  9. Wilsheres dad says:

    For me, one of the worst refereeing performances I’ve seen in a while. So pedantic insisting on re taking throws & free kicks which broke up the flow of the game; a complete lack of consistancey when it came to poor challenges; missed what looked like 2 clear cut penalty shouts for Arsenal from where I was sitting & was looking the other way when Boltons keeper picked up a back pass.
    Over all a very solid team performance but despite looking dangerous Arshavins finishing was very poor, as was the timing of his runs..offside 5 or 6 times.
    With a clinical finnisher up front we’d win the EPL no problem!! Maybe Vela could be that player if he got to play more often??
    Song was so far forward at times later in the game that I was wondering if he had a bet on that he’d score,but as usual he’d worked his socks off in the holding mid-field role.
    Squillaci looked very good and I think we’re defending better as a team than last year.

    • pires is king says:

      Well said, Wilshere’s dad, I had a very similar sense of the game (though a replay did clarify for me that the tackle on Eboue didn’t look like a penalty in the end). How that level of ref’ing inconsistency is accepted I will never understand- it’s as if his attitude was- ‘hey, you’re winning, what are you complaining about?’ I agree with you and Desi too about Asharvin- he’s a strange type so I’d never feel comfortable writing him off, but I must admit it has been a long time since I’ve seen any consistent ‘magic’ from him. Thanks again Desi for a great write up/ site!

    • desigunner says:

      Agree with you it was really poor refereeing. But isn’t it typical that the only decisions everyone (pundits) seems to be crying about are the one’s that went in favour of Arsenal?

      I think Arshavin has a little bit of confidence issue right now. He will finish most of those chances if we put him through regularly. I think it’s been a while since we saw him one-on-one.

      There is no doubt we’ve put in some serious effort on our collective defending.

      Not sure about the penalty shouts. Do you mean the Eboue and Arshavin incidents? Eboue one was a clean tackle (benefit of replays 🙂 ) never got a second look at the Arshavin one.

  10. tony says:

    the greatest improvement in my opinion was the way the team defended..we seem to have a more comfortable back four(doesn’t matter which of our centre backs play) and this can only be helpfull in bringing back the much needed confidence in almunia..was a very solid performance and it seems we’re getting back that mentality that we’ll win despite conceeding a goal..COMMON U MIGHTY REDS..KIP GUNNING EM ALL DOWN!!!

    • desigunner says:

      Our defenders are certainly attacking the ball a lot more. Once again our Keeper wasn’t forced to come out for everything and he didn’t look bad at all, did he?

      I’m waiting for the day when that swagger returns. It’s nor far 🙂

  11. Long Island Gunner says:

    First let’s go against the grain a bit. Almunia was very good in this game. Stayed on his feet and made himself big when Petrov’s flat corner ball fell in the box and Bolton was shooting from the second ball. did well with his distribution and as said here – seemed to be vocally commanding in the back of the team.

    Second point against the grain – I thought Wilshere was terrific. I don’t think he wandered at all. i think he played off of Cesc. When Cesc wanted to come deep to get the ball earlier in the build-up Jack pushed on behind Chamakh. When Cesc and Song got into the attack, he was always poised to get back. I have to say he covers a lot of the field – box to box. He’s 18 and I would compare him favorably to where Cesc was at this stage. Not the same type of player, but definitely same level of impact on the game.

    Finally – in keeping with others. I mean, how good is Chamakh for our side? The guy is a target player, is a forward that can play in combination, puts pressure on the defenders early and high up the field and looks really up for it every time he steps on. If he stays fit I think he scores 20 this year without ever taking a PK for us. Finances aside, who picked up better players over the past 14 months than we have with Vermie, Kosc, Chamakh and Squillaci – all filling real needs, not just adding window dressing.

    Cesc was very good and I think many of us know he still has another gear. Arshavin was wasteful beyond belief. Rosicky got some great touches in and Song was his usual rock in the center of the park. Ebouie and Gibbs, very good and can both play better – switching off indeed.

    On form you would think we should be looking at 6 more points before we take on Chelski, get a little more healthy and look at our first 6 pointer of the season.

    • desigunner says:

      Actually I do agree that Almunia did well. I’m sorry if the write up gave a contrary impression. In fact, if you look back over the last year I’ve been one of those who has maintained our keepers are not as bad as they’re made out to be.

      With Wilshere, I thought Bolton mid-fielders knew they could get the ball off him, no chance against Song or Cesc. I also thought our players realized that and didn’t play that many balls to him when he was under pressure or closer to our defence. I’m not trying to say he was bad, given his age he did really well but he also has a long way to go.

      I expect Chamakh will be crucial in games when we are struggling to open teams up. He’s another one who has a lot more to offer.

      • AnonymousGun says:

        I think JW started due to the compound effect of
        1) He is fit
        2) Abou need some rest
        3) Denilson havent played any proper match yet
        4) Samir wasnt fully fit from his injury
        5) AW dont want to play 442 with MC and CV up front. Changing back 4 AND formation is a bit too much of a gamble.

  12. alwaysgunner says:

    long Island gunner I agree with you Young Jack had a good game; only once did he really lose the ball. Overall he played very well. Still has a lot to learn before he can take over from Ces but the signs are there.

  13. Pato says:

    With our performances and injuries , I am more and more convinced we will lose against chelsea and maybe man utd but we still have a chance to win the trophy. I am sure of it.We need to keep Song,Diaby,Cesc,Bendtner and Walcott fit of all players in midfield and attack to have a chance to beat chelsea.Bendtner probably wont even play against chelsea.Walcott will be injured for that match too.Lets see Diaby`s injury but if he is not playing against them as well then we have no chance.People say we are nowhere near as good as chelsea but we have missed our key players against them while they havent.

  14. Charlie says:

    Hey Desi Gunner Great analysis, I have enjoyed reading your posts more and more ever since I came across them! Keep up the great work and Come Arsenal!!!!

  15. Arun says:

    It was song’s goal that calmed things down. Before the sending off, even at 2-1, we were not comfortable and despite creating so many good chances we failed to kill the game off. So, once wishere was taken off, Song left the job of supporting the back 4 to Diaby first and then to Denilson and took the responsibility to finish the game upon himself. When i saw Song going forward, i knew a goal or assist is coming from him and it did come.

  16. Gooner says:

    Only thing tht keeps Arshavin on the starting XI ahead of the likes of Vela is the transfer money paid 4 him – 15M

    Lets hope he ll be back to his best or else Wenger shud makes a big decision soon.

  17. Tim says:

    Cahill’s red was a bit harsh, but it wasn’t a great tackle. Robinsin and Davies’s muggings were worse, though.

    I’m increasingly impressed by Chamakh, who is showing signs of being the old-fashioned number nine we have lacked since the days of Alan Smith.


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