Six of the Best ….. the Cesc and Jack Show

When a team wins by a margin like 6-0, it’s very easy to dismiss the match as a sporting contest. And so it is in this case, Sporting Braga were ripped apart by an Arsenal team that was in the mood to show the best of their game. At no point, from the first minute to the last, did Braga look like they had a chance of taking any of the points. We were left with our second 6-0 home win of the season, to go alongside our 4-1 win over Bolton.

There can be virtually no criticism of the Arsenal players’ performances. Individually and collectively, they were fantastic. Arshavin, Nasri, Fabregas, Wilshere and Chamakh provided an energetic and almost relentless attack. Time and time again, incisive passes from the imperious Fabregas carved open a limited and bamboozled Braga defence, with a zesty Arshavin, a mobile Chamakh, a confident Wilshere or a vibrant Nasri on the receiving end, and constantly creating new problems.

On the defensive side, Braga presented little threat, and failed to press the ball sufficiently to earn the opportunity to do much more. That said, we saw enough from Squillaci and Koscielny to fortify the feeling that Wenger has made two excellent signings. William Gallas might have had the name and the medals, but these two, alongside Vermaelen, promise to give us defensive strength and intelligence that we have sorely missed in recent years. On the odd occasion they needed to defend, the two centre backs read the game well and dealt with the pressure. And going forward, each of them acted as launch-pads for attacks, frequently pressing Braga players into errors and winning back possession quickly. This knack of getting the ball back is going to be important this season, and it wasn’t just the centre backs tonight, Sagna, Clichy, Song, Wilshere and even Arshavin often pressed and won back possession.

Although the goals were evenly divided between the two halves, Arsenal’s first half performance was especially impressive, yielding goals for Fabregas (converting a penalty following the keeper’s early foul on Chamakh), Arshavin (a neat near post shot following a pass from Cesc) and Chamakh (an efficiently despatched shot following a moment of genius from LJ, who back-healed the ball through the legs of a defender to release the impressive Moroccan). Constant movement was the order of the day, with Arsenal players in possession always having multiple options available to them. As the players went off at half-time, the man who has almost become the team’s spiritual reference point, Emmanuel Eboué (a sub on the night), greeted each of the Arsenal players at the mouth of the tunnel, acknowledging the level of Arsenal’s first half dominance and the stylishness of the creative football on display.

They couldn’t quite keep the pace and intensity going in the second half, but by then Braga were a broken team. The only surprise was that Arsenal only managed to score three more goals. Braga’s defence collapsed for Cesc’s second goal, giving both him and Arshavin more time than they could wish for. Inevitably, Carlos Vela scored the fifth and sixth goals, finishing off two beautiful passing movements, with Arshavin getting another assist and Cesc laying on the last goal. I wonder what proportion of Vela’s goals have been scored against demoralised teams that have already effectively been defeated. It seems to be Vela’s curse. But his ability to finish a move really is excellent.

There were plenty of other chances along the way, but Braga’s first Champions’ League game was a harsh demonstration of how far off the pace they are. After all, we may be consistent in CL football but we aren’t exactly a dominant force. While not knowing much about this side, many of us were mindful of the danger that a team that had denied Sevilla a place in the CL would represent. We needn’t have worried. The one-sidedness of the contest affected the atmosphere, which was pretty muted for much of the time. The suggestion that there were 59,000 fans present (a statistic Kim Jong-Il might have been embarrassed to announce) was ludicrous but there will be far more intense evenings ahead of us in the competition.

All in all, plenty of fun and some beautiful football, and without expending too much energy, but Sunderland away on Saturday will be a far tougher proposition.


Player ratings:

Almunia: Did what little he was asked to do well, always looked comfortable. 7.

Squillaci: Superb, intelligent, strong, good positional play. 8.

Koscielny: Excellent as well, strong in the challenge, good concentration and jockeyed his attackers well. 8.

Sagna: Efficient, did well at the back and going forward, including a couple of excellent crosses. 7.

Clichy: A good performance, but was probably the only player one would criticise at all, since he got caught out once or twice. But used his pace going forward to good effect. 6.5.

Song: Quietly went about his business and did it well. 7.

Wilshere: Confident, creative performance. Was unlucky not to score and his back-heel to put Chamakh in was wonderful. 8.

Arshavin: As energetic a performance as I’ve seen from the little Russian – his tracking back is genuine and appreciated. But his performance in the top third suggests a player who’s rediscovering his mojo. 8.

Fabregas: Another fantastic performance from the man Barca think is only worth €40m. How wrong they are. 9.

Nasri: Excellent first half, drifted away slightly in the second half, but Nasri constantly created problems for Braga’s defenders. 7.5.

Chamakh: Really good performance from a player who has pace, awareness, a great touch, ability in the air and who can finish well. A quintessential Arsenal player. 8.

Vela: Another lovely sub’s performance, I just hope he gets the chance to do more this season and that he takes that chance this time. 7.

Denilson and Eboué: Tidy subs’ performances. 7.

45 Responses to Six of the Best ….. the Cesc and Jack Show

  1. London says:

    Morning all

    Great match report, great game, great morning, happy, happy, happy.

  2. Rasp says:


    Superb article 26m, well worth the midnight oil 😉

    We’re running out of eulogies to heap on the performance. There is a really special understanding developing between Cesc and Jack. I have wondered how many playmakers a side can have, but last night Nasri was exceptional too.

  3. Fubu says:

    Have to agree with the ratings there.
    Only i would have given Wilshire – 9, considering he played with such maturity and calmness at an age of 18 in a UCL match.

    The second half was a breeze with Braga having lost confidence in themselves after watching the free flowing football at its very best.
    The reaction of the coach during 2nd half said it all.

  4. SharkeySure says:

    Great write up 26M.

    Unbelievable stuff last night. No other team on the planet plays football like that, and for that alone Arsene deserves so much credit.

  5. London says:

    It’s quiet on here today; it was quite quiet last night considering what was going on. I was trying to find a way to explain it and then an image came to mind: When cats are happy they don’t make a lot of noise but if you listen carefully you can hear the collective purring of Arsenal fans 😉

  6. Rasp says:

    Morning London,

    Despite the quality of the performance, the pundits still couldn’t resist questioning our ability to beat the other top teams. I’d like to have seen the chavs perform to our standard over the last five years with the same budget and decimated by injuries.

  7. kelsey says:

    Excellent report, excellent game and regardless of the opposition, this is what we can expect to being as near to total football as we can witness.
    Two things stood out for me.
    Eboue’s warm up wa something else,and though it didn’t matter his contribution was minimal. I would nominate him as the team mascot and then with a fit Walcott,allow him the occasional game at right back.I honestly believes he loves all the players and enjoys a performance like we saw last night,if he is playing or not.

    The other thing that pleased me and actually surprised me was one of the few second half raids by Braga produced a cross which Almunia dived full length and caught with an authority not seen before .

    With Vermaelen,Walcott,RVP,Gibbs, Rosicky Diaby and Ramsey and Bedntner still to re inforce the team (though Djorou may have to wait) and add that to my notion that rotation will play a big factor this season, the future looks bright.
    of course sterner tests await but I kept thinking that last night would have been made for Theo.

    A great night to be a gooner and i am sure entertain friend and foe alike.

  8. London says:

    True, true, true Rasp.

  9. Tim says:

    Wilshere showed exactly why Wenger rates him so highly. He looked every inch Cesc’s heir apparent last night. And to think he’s still only 18 …

    I continue to be hugely impressed at how quickly Chamakh has settled in to the side too.

  10. London says:

    Morning Kelsey

    “Braga produced a cross which Almunia dived full length and caught with an authority not seen before.”

    That save deserved recogition.

  11. Rasp says:

    Hi Tim,

    It appears there are several ‘heir apparents’ to Cesc’s crown. I’m sure Nasri and Ramsey would like to be considered worthy. But I agree, Jack seems to have that something extra that you can’t teach a player.

  12. London says:

    Is there any news on Ramsey?

  13. Rasp says:

    From London.

    ……Aaron suffered a broken leg against Stoke City in February and is on course for his November return according to Arsene Wenger. “Aaron is running,” he told on September 9. “He is in the normal process but he is a little bit more long-term.”

    I have no worries that Ramsey will return and play an important part in the team. I can’t see bentner holding down a starting place as long as the other strikers are fit and wonder whether he will be happy to play a bit part in the mould of EE?

  14. London says:

    Arshavin jumped in the air a little bit after scoring his first goal.

  15. Big Raddy says:

    Super read 26, following a fab performance.

    As you say, Barca can whistle for €40m. Since his return Fabregas is playing the best football seen at the Emirates. Two stunning performances.

    Whilst heralding Wilshere’s performance, it is vey early to hail him as the new Fab. But a midfield of Nasri, Song, Ramsey and JW is a mouth watering prospect for 2014.

    The energy levels were excellent during the game, and Braga were totally overwhelmed. For once we bossed a team in the physical side of the game, aided by a lenient but fair referee.

    On which point, the Ref had a fine game and was an object lesson to Attwell

  16. earthgooner says:

    Koscienly, vamaelen and scuillaci look alike. their mean expression….

  17. Big Raddy says:

    Right Rasp.

    Chamakh looks a fine signing and I agree Nik will have trouble getting on the bench. With the return of an in-form Theo, and Vela showing he can be a clinical finisher and supersub, NB will struggle, Even though he loves the Arsenal his ambition will force him elsewhere – either that or he will have to progress and take RvP’s place.

    Luxury problems!

  18. Rasp says:

    Morning Raddy,

    Those who were saying “sell Cesc” over the summer have gone very quiet! Arsène made the very good point that Jack is lucky to be able to learn from and play alongside Cesc. I doubt he learned many footballing skills from Bolton last season although it was very important experience for him.

  19. Rasp says:

    True Raddy,

    I think that paradoxically, the most competition this season will be amongst those who want to get in the Carling Cup side. Every young player must dream of getting a chance to play alongside the current squad at THoF

  20. tommystout says:

    excellent write up 26m
    and London i just love your theory about purring gooners, i think you’ve hit the nail on the head there.
    My points- if cesc carries on in this vein, barca will not be able to afford him in the summer (again). Would arsenal let him go on the cheap?

    Arshavin passing was woeful in the first half, he made up for it in the second. And he celebrated his goal yeeehaaaa!

    Kozzer and squillaci may be the most important signings in years.

    RVP will struggle to make the starting line up if Chamach continues like this. He is more suited to this system than RVP imho.


  21. tommystout says:

    i liked it when Jack was interviewed and told that cesc said Jack is better than Cesc was at 18. He looked so embarrassed and stumped for a reply. funny 🙂

  22. tommystout says:

    what was the atmospher like last night for anyone that was there?

  23. earthgooner says:

    people are already stating to write of rvp because of chamkh… dont get carried away people. rvp is one of the best strikers in the world on his good day.

  24. Eduardo says:

    Just to point out arsenal like most others announce tickets sold as the attendance and not amount of people who actually turn up.

  25. Tommy. says:

    Never underestimate RVP. He remains Wenger’s first choice striker. He doesn’t fear and his workrate in feeding other players is high. Chamakh, another flamboyant striker with strength in air & sneaky beautiful touches. They both can make a red hot patnership…

  26. Carlito11 says:

    Was a cracking night last night- pretty quiet from the crowd (except the RedAction lot as usual)! I would love to see Vela and Chamakh as number 9 and 10- Chamakh creates so much space and holds up the ball so well that a clinical finisher like Vela couldn’t help but take advantage! That said, I’m not sure I want us reverting to 442 anytime soon…
    Great write up and love the purring analogy!

  27. SharkeySure says:

    I think the RVP comments aren’t writing him off, it’s more like the relief and joy to know that we can cope without him.

    Chamakh has done so much in so little time its almost untrue.

  28. tommystout says:

    spot on sharky, he has become so important to us in very little time. illustrated by wengers substitutions last night – chamach & song both essential for the sunderland trip.
    RVP will come back im sure, but he will only get back in the side as first choice if this engine stops running so well.

  29. Big Raddy says:

    Rotation, Rotation….

    I agree Sharkey, it isnt writing off a genius, it is an appreciation that this season will not see us play a 5`3″ lone striker

  30. tommystout says:

    Arsene Wenger tries to influence referees ahead of Arsenal games, claims Sam Allardyce

  31. tommystout says:

    says the man who consistantly bemoans refereeing decisions against “the big boys”
    what a cretin

  32. tommystout says:

    does anybody know if TV misses saturday???

  33. rockylives says:

    Great report 26May – agreed with every word. My only quibble is with your rating of 8 for Arshavin (better than Song and Nasri and same as Wilshere). I love the little Russian but his radar was switched off in the first half.
    What’s great is that he got a goal and kept trying (I even saw him filling in for Bac at right back at one point). He’s been out of form but is slowly playing himself back into it and will get better. Towards the end of the Bolton game I thought the crowd was getting on his back a little bit, which is probably not helpful.

  34. Pat7 says:

    I agree with RockyLives. Great post but thought Arshavin was completely off the pace for much of the game but as said he worked his butt off & had some very positive moments 🙂

    Alex Song was another who was not himself last night missing most of his passes I thought but still very strong in defense, breaking up their attacks.

    Al looked confident & that diving catch at full stretch that came out of the blue gives me hope for his future – he loves the club – & I hope he progresses from this performance and the previous.

  35. Pat7 says:

    Can’t wait for Arsh to get his full fitness – as his waistlines trims he gets more active & successful!

  36. ArseChicago says:

    Great write-up; your use of descriptive adjectives was about as prodigious and resplendent as Arsenal’s passing yesterday. Yesterday was certainly one of those not infrequent reminders as to why we love this club, the manager, and the football Arsenal plays. Just pure bliss. The lads looked very relaxed and looked to be having a lot of fun. We’ll certainly be grinding it out this coming Saturday, though, so hopefully they can keep the momentum going.

  37. Big Raddy says:

    “HARPO” Song with his new hair is clearly copying his hero 🙂

    And if Cesc grew a moustache he would look like Groucho

    And if Clichy changed colour he is a ringer for Chico ….

  38. Big Raddy says:

    This is an extract from the Sunderland AFC Official website. Is it any wonder AW is concerned….?

    “The Gunners looked irresistible in their 6-0 Champions League win on Wednesday night, but we shouldn’t forget who they were playing. Braga looked beaten before they even took to the pitch at the Emirates, and it will be a completely different story on Wearside this Saturday. Arsene Wenger’s men have started the season well, but the Frenchman taking issue with the physical approach of some opponents towards his players means there is a definite chink in their armour. Basically, they don’t like it up ’em.”

  39. Big Raddy says:

    And here is a quote from Fat Sam

    “”I completely deny that my team deliberately injures players, certainly not. In the Premier League the commitment and speed unfortunately brings players together at such pace that it’s almost impossible to avoid injuries.”

    “We don’t do what everybody says we do and kick everybody, we don’t do it.”

    Strange that the evidence proves otherwise. But when did facts get in the way of an Allardyce dig at Arsene. As usual the rest of his speech was about AW influencing refs:

    Excuse my language but the man is a dicksplash (whatever that means).

  40. tommystout says:

    turn out for the books – ardian durham AND goughy are both bigging up arsenal and condemning allardyce !!!
    why? well its because LJW is english (typical) and needs protecting.

  41. SharkeySure says:

    Dicksplash and Harpo….Lol.

    Top quality Mr Radders…respectfully

  42. Neamman says:

    Is there a place for RVP??? We dont seem to miss him???

  43. Big Raddy says:

    We will when Chamakh gets tired, and we have yet to play a top 3 side. A player of RvP’s quality is worth keeping even if he only plays 20 games a season

  44. Rasp says:

    New post ….

  45. […] Six of the Best ….. the Cesc and Jack Show […]

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