Arsenal Back To Winning Ways – written by London

September 29, 2010

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.

Partizan. Fabianski to have a quiet but impressive game – written by BigRaddy

September 28, 2010

I have to be honest and say that prior to my research I knew little of Partizan Belgrade, not even knowing which country they represent (my geography tuition ending prior to the destruction of Yugoslavia). I read that they are top of their League and have won the Serbian League and Cup double for the past 2 years.

Their ground holds 32,000 fans who appear to have considerable influence over the club; a few years ago the fans were unhappy with their trainer and refused to attend home games until he resigned, which he duly did. This requires a level of organisation that we Gooners can only contemplate  – perhaps there is a way to persuade the club to buy a new GK !

They lost their opener 1-0 away to Shaktar and showed themselves to be a decent team. Their star player is the inevitable Brazilian, a striker named Cleo who has scored 14 goals in 15 European games.

But this game is about how Arsenal bounce back from the weekend, it is a test of character in what is a difficult week. Poor Fabianski will be under enormous pressure knowing that millions of viewers will be awaiting his first error; should he fail tonight the repercussions will surely end his Arsenal career and many would give away 2 points to see him do just that, an appalling desire from so called “fans”.  I would like Fabianski to have a very quiet evening but make two wonder saves, thereby giving him the confidence to play well at Stamford Bridge. A clean sheet would be great.

As usual I have no idea of the team but I would play these chaps:

The entire defence had a terrible game at the weekend, Almunia took the brunt of the blame but they were very poor as a unit. Tonight can only be better. Partizan play a packed midfield with a lone striker, a formation which tends to blanket our passing game, patience will be an issue. We need to be mindful of the ball over the top, particularly as our defenders normally play high up the pitch. I hope we attack from the off and quickly build a platform to win the points, if we score first we will go on to win, but with confidence having been shaken, an early Partizan goal could be ruinous.

Founded in the 6th Century BC, Belgrade is the 4th largest city in S.E.Europe with a population of 1.6m. It has one of the biggest rivalries in World football between Partizan and Red Star. Serbs are very good at tennis having reached the final of the Davis Cup.