ESPNSoccernet: Fortune favors Gunners
BBC Sport: Arsenal enjoyed the rub of the green as they established a commanding Champions League play-off lead against Celtic.
My regular reader knows that I usually like to link to ESPN and the Telegraph because those two usually carry the most detailed post-match statistics. However, this match doesn’t have any statistics that I could find, even the UEFA match report has a dead link where their statistics would normally be.
Strange, the Arsenalist usually has match videos for you, but not today. So I guess you’ll have to make due with 101 great goals’ coverage. If you’re an Arsenal TV Online subscriber, you can watch the whole match over again over at the dot com.
Man of the Match
Song, Vermaelen, Song, Vermaelen, Gallas? Hmmm… It’s tough to pick between Song and Vermaelen for this honor, even today, after I made up my mind yesterday to give it to Song.
It’s a tough decision because Vermaelen made some key interceptions and tackles that saved goals while Song was just devastating in the midfield, breaking up play and starting the attack. The other thing that didn’t get on the score sheet is just how assured the defense looks with Vermaelen at back. I’m not ripping Kolo, but there were quite a few times last year when the team just looked shaky and he looked desperate. So far this year, the team has looked absolutely solid and I have to think that’s down to the good relationship between Gallas and TV5. TV5 has come out today and hailed Gallas as a mentor, which should make Ole Cappy really, erm, happy.
But I have to give it to Song based on one thing and one thing alone; Celtic only managed one shot on goal all game. I feel like it was Song in midfield that kept the Cetic attack at bay. He didn’t do it alone, “Chesk” and Denilson got plenty stuck in, and Bendtner and Arshavin both dropped back to cover the wing play of Celtic, but Song was there in the midfield, doing everything, like a boss. Even the boss seems kind of surprised by this new Song, saying:
In the last two games Song has played extremely well too. He can win the fight, not only with physical strength but he has that sense to nick the ball from his opponent without giving away the foul. That’s a very interesting quality.
So, I’m giving it to Song, feel free to disagree, it won’t hurt my feelings.
The whole team actually could win “Man” of the match owing to the way that the whole team played such stalwart team defense for nearly the entire 90 minutes. I say nearly because there was a point, after they’d each run about 10k that they took their foot off the gas a bit, but we weren’t hurt by it, so it’s not something to get down about.
Tony Mowbray before the match talked about the pressure defense that Arsenal play and I don’t suppose you’ll see a much better display of what he was talking about than yesterday’s match. Celtic didn’t have much room to breath much less make a pass and you saw the effect of that when they passed the ball out of touch on several occasions, yards from any teammate. If Arsenal can do that to a good passing team like Celtic, I have to wonder what it would be like to be a Pompey player on the weekend. Their forwards are going to spend a long time without seeing much of the ball.
Arsene Wenger put it this way:
I give credit to my team, even at 1-0 we didn’t drop off and we kept playing very high up and put them under pressure. That was a very positive attitude.
A lot has been made about how Arsenal were “lucky” on both goals but I don’t see it that way. I saw a team that worked very, very hard and who got the breaks they deserved. Chesk’s goal, for example, had it not been deflected by Gallas, was headed for the net and Boric was going to have his hands full dealing with it. It was a good strike and it’s not fortune that caused that ball to go in, it’s Talent, Attitude, and Opportunity.
I could easily point to several occasions where I thought the referee bottled a clear free kick in a dangerous position that should have gone Arsenal’s way. Plus, Celtic were very aggressive in the tackle and with a different ref could easily have picked up several yellows or even had players sent off. So, I think it was Celtic who were the fortunate ones, not Arsenal.
So, Arsenal are the first English team to travel to Parkhead and get a win in some 25 years, and they kept a clean sheet! What a night, eh?
Remember the other day when Tony Cascarino shot his fool mouth off about how on “a beautiful day”, blah, blah, “I’m a huge cunt” blah blah “I hate Arsenal and they won’t amount to shit unless they but 12 new players?” He was basically saying that old chestnut that Arsenal don’t handle pphysical teams well.
I think last night pretty much proved that wrong.
Celtic were nearly, NEARLY, overly physical with Arsenal and I especially thought their little midfield enforcer, N’Guemo, could easily have gotten sent off for some of his tackles. Fortunately no one was injured but there were several times that that was down to the Arsenal player getting out of the way rather than because of a good tackle on the Celtic player’s part.
Much is being made of Wenger’s statement about this play but the whole quote is much softer and wouldn’t write as many headlines.
I think there were some bad fouls. The referee took some time to intervene but afterwards he did it. We got sometimes some harsh treatment today. I’m very happy with the commitment of my team despite the physical approach of some Celtic players. I can understand that from Celtic’s point of view but what is more interesting for me is how we respond to that. I believe we did that well.
What would the press write about if they didn’t have “Arsenal need to buy,” “Arsenal too inexperienced,” and “Wenger the whinger?”
Before the match, I had the misfortune of watching Fox’s pre-match warmup with two chumps and Warren Barton and I have come to the conclusion that Warren Barton should shut his mouth. First off, the former Wimbledon great never won a single medal in his entire career. None. So why he’s thought of as an expert in anything, except losing, I have no idea.
Second, his “analysis” of Arsenal seems to be culled from other people’s reports and contains not one shred of interesting or new information. In fact, you could just as easily read newspaper headlines about Arsenal and get the same level of “analysis” that Warren Barton mails in every week.
And third, he seems to actually have some sort of vendetta against Arsenal and Wenger despite being born in Islington. It makes me wonder if he isn’t a Spurs supporter. He’s always wrong about the team, and he’s always very negative, are you Tottenham in disguise?
I’m going to email him and find out.
It was a good team game against another good opponent. Celtic’s movement was good, their ball control was good, and their fight in the midfield was good (even though I didn’t like some of their tackles). And despite that, Arsenal were better, much better. Arsenal have now scored 8 goals and conceded just 1 in two matches and the whole team is flying high right now. Of course, as Wenger pointed out before the Celtic match, that could turn cloudy at a moment’s notice, like the English weather, but for now, the sun is out and the team is working like a, well, like a team.
Saturday is Pompey and after that we host Celtic and travel to Man U to show them what we’re up to this year. It’s a busy time for the lads, and with players like Carlos Vela out with injury (among others), it’s going to be a rough few weeks. But like I’ve said before this team looks the real deal and I think they can do it. Hell, they just scored 8 goals in two games and virtually all of them came from the midfield or defenders, imagine if the offense starts clicking!
That would be a sight to behold, wouldn’t it?