First, there’s the statistical “goodies;” 5 goals from 5 different players and 3 points against a team that has not been beaten at home in the Champions League in two years. Theo has a goal in each of his last two matches, Aaron Ramsey got his first Arsenal goal, Cesc got off the snide and picked up two assists (his first assists of the season? I find that hard to believe), AND NO ONE GOT INJURED!
Each of those three (Theo, Ramsey, and Cesc) along with Diaby and even Denilson should be singled out for praise here as well. In fact, the whole 5 person midfield made Arsenal really click and hum and sing right from the start. I haven’t seen that much enthusiasm from this Arsenal team all season. It reminded me of the way that the team went to the San Siro last year and really put themselves out with a display of passing and tackling unlike anything in world football right now.
It helps that Fener were playing a high line and were attacking Arsenal because it gave us lots of space to play into. It also helps (and Wenger got this right) that we played a 4-5-1 because I think it gave Cesc the kind of cover he needs in order to operate in that space behind the striker(s). Denilson cannot do it alone and neither can Diaby but together they do a fair job patrolling in front of the defense. We can’t play a 4-5-1 all the time but it’s been fairly successful when we have. Just so long as Adebayor can do the dirty work up front (holding the ball up, making runs, staying active, and providing a big target) and not get too jaded it’s a great lineup.
Just briefly, I want to drop some kudos on Adebayor, he opened the scoring which was so important in this kind of game and he scored in a very workman like way. In fact, I admire Adebayor’s very quiet manner in which he does his job — be the big target up front. Sure, he could get less offsides, and sometimes he can be frustrating but he’s a real workhorse for this team and I love watching him play.
Theo, on the other hand… What a goal! If you didn’t see the goal, or just want to re-live it over and over, go over to the Arsenalist and check it out. He dribbled the ball around the keeper and drilled it into the near post on about as acute an angle as humanly possible. Heady stuff there. Afterward, Theo reflected on how he terrifies small children and little people named Roberto Carlos:
All the teams in Europe will look and see the 5-2 win by Arsenal, away and with a young team, and I think they will be scared to play us. AND YOU WILL KNOW MY NAME IS THE LORD, WHEN I LAY MY VENGEANCE UPON THEE!
Or summat. Arsene, get out the checkbook, this kid is a keeper.
By the way, I’ve decided to get a Theo away shirt as my jersey this year and my one loyal reader knows what that means: Theo is as good as sold. It’s the curse of the shirt, any player shirt I buy they leave (Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp — to be fair I knew he was retiring, and Flamini). The only player to escape the curse so far is Fabregas. Fingers crossed that Theo joins him.
And finally, what more can be said about King Ramsey I? That kid came on and seemed as cool as the other side of the cucumber. Sure, he gave the ball away a couple of times, but he fought to get it back. And sure, his passes in the final third weren’t perfect, but he more than made up for that with the only goal Arsenal have scored outside the 6 yard box in three years (thanks to Russ for that joke!). But seriously, he reminds me quite a bit of Fabregas when he was younger — the way he’s fearless and the way that time seems to just slow down when the ball is at his feet. The main difference is that King Ramsey I is willing to shoot which Cesc didn’t develop until last year. Long live the King.
I know, it’s against the rules to talk ill of your team when they win 5-2 but there were two ills that need mentioning: Almunia and Song.
I’m not too sure if I actually watch the same games as the rest of the world. Did no one else see Almunia get beat severally? I counted at least two times where Guiza should have just dribbled around Almunia but instead elected to shoot. One of which was such a kerfuffle that Almunia opened his eyes somewhere like 20 seconds after the ball had caromed off of him only to watch haplessly as Eboue and Clichy came to the rescue and cleared a poor shot off the line and then followed up with a very brave challenge.
Add in that Guiza chipped him twice and on the second (which counted) Almunia didn’t even raise his hands and I have to say that Almunia had a horrible game. It wasn’t skill or talent or hard work that kept Fener to two goals it was just blind luck. Almunia won’t get away with that kind of play against a team like the one that demolished poor Celtic 3-0.
Of course, had Almunia been presented with a defense that actually kept its shape, or understood man marking, or could clear their lines from a set play he would have looked a lot better. But instead Alex Song was at the back doing his best impersonation of a Toreador. What the hell was he doing back there? Fener basically ran the same play at them time and again and time and again Song was either out of position to defend or springing the offside trap 20 seconds too late. I don’t want to take away from him the fact that he obviously played his heart out. I just don’t think he should be put into that kind of position ever again. Or at least not until he’s had a chance to work on some of the basic moves.
Wait, Joey Barton is ready to make his return… in the Tyne-Wear derby… where just last year he tried to permanently injury Dickson Etuhu… this should end well.
Next match is on Sunday and it’s against Wet Ham. Thank the Gods that Alan Pardew isn’t in charge of that club or we might have to watch the Pardew Shuffle (WARNING: this video is known to the state of California as a strong emetic) over and over and over…
Cheers — hey and stop fighting in the forums we all love each other.