After our first fixture in the Champions League and arguably the toughest of the group phase we have come away with a point. Not bad at all and it certainly leaves us in good stead for the rest of the competition. It is certainly a result we would have taken before the fixture started so let’s not get too disheartened even though it seems as though victory was snatched from us at the last minute.
Although a fairly disappointing first half performance I felt the second half was committed, resilient and generally defensively sound. I know they had positional advantage but we did see enough of the ball and I may be alone in thinking this, but I never felt worried for one moment in the second half. We seemed to be handling what they threw at us quite well on the whole and aside from some foolish possessional play at times, we defended admirably. Despite that we conceded a late goal, and what a goal it was. When you concede a goal like that there is not much you can do to defend it.
On the other side of the pitch we were not at our free flowing best and in fact not even close by any unit of measurement. We could not hold the ball in the opposition half for long and found it difficult to really stamp our authority on the game. We did create some chances and despite a very quiet game, Theo Walcott found Robin Van Persie brilliantly after the Dutchman started off the move by winning the ball and making a great run. The finish was just as good as the build up but for different reasons. The build up outlined Van Persie’s work rate, vision and movement. The finish was as cool as the other side of the pillow. A great right footed effort which the keeper was nowhere near.
So we have covered Walcott who was pretty woeful and Van Persie who was brilliant, then we have Gervinho and it would be no exaggeration to say he was a combination of the two. At times brilliant, beating his marker and creating space but woeful in that he never really seemed to know what he was going to do. There did not seem to be any objective, any thought process. He played well only to lose the ball and get dispossessed time and time again. I really would like to see his pass completion rate since he has started at Arsenal as I cannot imagine it being very high at all. It is important to note that he has not had much game time with the first team and as such may take time to know when and where his colleagues will be making their runs. Let’s hope this improves as with a better end product I feel he could have a huge season for the Arsenal.
I am delighted that we have started our bounce back and hope it continues this Saturday against Blackburn. We will have 0 players suspended for the first time since the opening fixture and with some luck we should have Ramsey back. Another name that I have had lots of people asking me about recently is that of Abou Diaby. I have not heard anything since the initial prognosis of “End of August or early September”. This period has clearly ended and we are none the wiser. If there is anyone that has any more news, please get in touch either by leaving a comment or by tweeting.
We have got three days to relax and I am currently working on another article which I shall post on footballspeak.com in the coming days. If you haven’t checked it out please do as I am currently ranked the number 1 writer for September. So let’s hope I can maintain it.
In other news we have had many Arsenal players speak their mind in the past 24 hours. We had Koscienly telling Arsenal.com that Song has been sorely missed because;
“It's very important to have Alex near the centre-backs because he stops the opportunities coming to the other team. It's good for us.”
Arteta is relishing the challenge of playing for Arsenal and it is good to hear such positivity coming from the new boy.
"With a club like Arsenal, you are going to be under pressure and you need to handle it and try your best… But being under pressure is good as it means people expect something from you. I think we have got the players here to make us good and play good football… We weren't that good with the ball last night because Dortmund were very good putting pressure on us but we will be fine. We need to settle as quickly as possible and I try to help the team in the areas I am able to. We have five or six new players coming in and they are going to be an important part of the team. We all need to be together and I think the spirit is really good, the manager is really positive about it and we know that we will be fine… The difference between winning trophies and not can sometimes be very small details. The important thing is to get there because, when you do, you have a chance. We have to make sure we are close."
Very wise words from the Spaniard and I hope this attitude is shared throughout the team. They need to pull their socks up and continue the momentum with a win at the weekend. A win on Saturday and we are looking at a much prettier picture then two weeks ago. We can get a good run going and as long as we beat all the teams we should beat we will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
So, on that positive note I shall leave you to it. Speak tomorrow.