That’s better, now where were we before we were so rudely interrupted by that nightmare on Saturday? Ah, yes I remember we were talking about how people were yet to realise how good the squad is and from it a team to rival the Invincibles could emerge; well, we might have to rethink the latter but last night went some way to help prove the former.
Wenger made six changes to the team that were embarrassed on the weekend, fielding a combination that included Belt and Braces, that’s both Song and Denilson for those who do not read my reports that often. With Wilshere placed ahead of them which together created a midfield axis that the whole team revolved around.
Song and Denilson sit like guard dogs in front of the defence alternating vertically in their attacks, when Song goes forward Denilson stays back and visa versa, this enabled Wilshere to do what he does best: be creative without the hindrance of defensive duty – and it worked. Wilshere linked with Arshavin to create in car terms what I can only describe as two Ferraris in a sea of Ford Sierras, their partnership was head and shoulders above anything else on the field. This paid dividends in the form of the first goal: sublime interplay between the two, with a back heel from a different footballing planet, setting up the Russian to lash home.
One nil up and we were in control but only after the defence had blown off the cob webs. Djourou looked like Bambi on ice and Fabianski appeared as scared as a person who would be looking for a new job next Monday if he messed this chance up.
More opportunities fell to Arshavin, Chamakh and Rosicky but the Partizan goal keeper was obviously using this game as a show case for better paid employment else where and decided to put on a show of stopping pretty much everything that came his way.
What is it with these teams in blue and white stripes? Why don’t they just roll over and give in as they are supposed to do? Again, not tonight, irritatingly they were awarded a penalty and worse, they scored from it. I am not sure what Denilson was doing but what ever it was he shouldn’t have been waving his arms around in the air when the ball is travelling towards him.
One each at half time, but we were clearly the better team a fact that I am sure Wenger emphasised to them during the break – it worked. Arsenal came out and dominated play but although we huffed, puffed and were even awarded a penalty we still couldn’t score. Chamakh was put through with only the goal keeper to beat but before being able to pull the trigger his legs were clipped and down he went, the ref pointed to the spot, up stepped Arshavin and lazily hit it down the middle allowing the keeper to save.
Still one one but it helped that the ref saw fit to give us a hand by reducing their team to ten men. With an extra man it wasn’t long before we were able to take advantage: Rosicky sent in a beautifully flighted ball for Chamakh to climb and head goalward, unfortunately it hit the bar but that was the last of the goal keeper’s nine lives and it rolled kindly back to the Moroccan who poked it home.
Two – one and the gods were smiling: all the things we had written on our wish list before the game began to be ticked off one at a time. Squillaci scored his first goal from a wonderfully taken corner which actually cleared the first man, why can’t we do that more often? Fabianski saved a penalty sending his confidence sky high, Djourou settled down to play a decent second half and Wenger was able to take off and rest key players ahead of our big game on Sunday. All in all, a good day at the Belgrade office. The smiles are back, have a good day.
Written by London.