Wednesday, 30 September 2009

This wasn't a lucky 2-0 win. Match report

I came in from the match last night, coughing up phlegm and regretting my attendance, to my traditional 'just returned from the football' conversation with my mother, where she feigns interest in my evening out.

She tends to know the score and little else. Occasionally she reads a match report. But I was most surprised when she told me she'd just been on The Guardian website and it said Arsenal had been lucky to get past Olympiacos.

Because whilst we scored late and the second goal was offside, we were by far the dominant team. As a graphic in The Times showed today, we had fourteen shots on target in the first half. Indeed, Olympiacos are a mediocre team, who have been beaten every time they've come to England. Yet, as Goodplaya points out, there were no grumblings of discontent at half-time: instead, the team was clapped off as people appreciated a good performance.

And a good performance it was. Make no mistake. Fabregas, Rosicky, Arshavin, and Van Persie really are a fabulous quarter going forward. Considering Samir Nasri is still to come back, it is a truly mouth-watering prospect how those five will play together. The inter-play was scintillating and it was testament to the goalkeeping of the 38-year-old Nikopolidis and the (in my eyes anyway) excellent tackling of Zewlakov, the Olympiacos no.14, which kept the scores level.

The highlight for me of the first half was a move involving all four of the awesome foursome, with the ball eventually coming to Fabregas who thumped one against the bar, with the keeper beaten. Nikopolidis did brilliantly to get up to save Rosicky's attempt from the re-bound.

Whilst Fabregas wasn't as bad as some have suggested he was on Saturday, he was against Olympiacos - particularly during the first half - absolutely sublime. As well as his own shot against the woodwork, he also played in RVP and Arshavin for golden opportunities.

The suggestion he has lost interest because he has already decided to leave was put to bed. And frankly, it was a ridiculous suggestion. Why would somebody who had decided to stay during August have already decided he was leaving before the end of September? He may leave, but I am sure he will stay committed until the end.

I turned to my friend during the second half and pointed out that as the game went on, Wenger's substitutions are somewhat predictable - he simply throws on more and more striker. First, Eduardo for Rosicky, then Vela for Diaby.

But this is no bad thing. With that attacking power on the field, we become an almost irresistible force going forward.

And that proved to be the case. Mere moments after Vela had come on, RVP played a 1-2 with Eduardo and slammed the ball home. The stadium erupted - whilst Olympiacos hadn't parked the bus, no-one seriously thought they would equalise. Sure enough, late on Arshavin added a second, which even from the other end of the stadium looked offside. It was, it has to be said, a sublime finish.

Fabregas and Rosicky were particularly good, but the team purred last night. 2-0 it may have been, but cliched as it sounds, it could have been several more. It was also nice to see a return to form for Gael Clichy who seemed to add something going forward for the first time this season.

With six points from six, we are almost through to the last sixteen. It's testament to Wenger's brilliance, that despite running the club on a shoestring, we remain one of Europe's elite. Here's to another thirteen years...

Keep the faith,

Update: When even Myles Palmer says Arsenal played well, you can't complain.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Yeah, I was surprised by the papers claiming it was a lucky win - it's probably the best we've played all season.