Fear and Loathing in the Champions league

Fear and Loathing in the Champions league

 
It would be very short sighted to suggest that we haven’t had a game this big in a while; we were 5 points clear at the top just about 6 months ago – lest we forget – with all the crunch games that come with that. Still for a game this early in the year, with the overall result so secure, this took on an importance beyond itself. The big question was, with all the little questions in the air, could the boys muster enough character to produce a convincing performance?

It says something of the standards at the club, and the ludicrous expectations of the fans, that 4-0 could still leave doubt. But it did. For half an hour we looked short on confidence, the game limped along, and little of note happened. At this point my notes read “lack of controlled passing, possession, movement off the ball – no rotation of ball through CM”.

Then Theo broke down the wing, RVP made a good tackle to keep possession and Nasri jigged through to score; the young Frenchman was unlucky with the deflection that removed the aesthetic quality of a good goal. Moments earlier he made a superb tackle, defending deep from a corner, that is the sort of moment to suggest he will find this league easy when he has adjusted; this clearly is not the finished article and we obviously have a real player on our hands.

Goal: Samir Nasri

Arsenal 1 -0 Twente (27 minutes)

Etched across my pad now was “swagger back”. Denilson missed a good chance on 33 minutes, then RVP missed a true sitter a few moments later – he bent passed the post when inside the line, a truly awful miss. To be frank these two players were still looking short on fitness and confidence throughout, although both had moments of real quality, particularly Robin, which bode well. On 44 minutes a naughty little Big Nick back heel sent Walcott through, who perhaps should have shot not crossed. The 19 year old Dane was starting to assert himself on the game as the break approached, with good touches and driving runs.

My Revenge On Ben Foster

Half Time: Arsenal 1 – 0 Twente

The second half started with Big Nick showing some sublime touches, before Billy Gallas got a goal he sorely needed. In truth this rather killed the game.

Goal: William Gallas (51 minutes)

Arsenal 2 -0 Twente

In between goals 2 and 3 Ade came on for RVP and Twente had a free-kick, little else. Theo’s goal was Henry like and capped a fine performance, he deserved it for possibly his best night in an Arsenal shirt, at points the opposition were reduced to fouling on the rare occasions they got close enough.

Goal: Theo Walcott (65 minutes)

Arsenal 3 – 0 Twente

From here the game petered out in scrappy fashion, although Big Nick stole the show. On 83 minutes he blocked a goal from an Eboue shot whilst lying prone on the floor, but otherwise was superb. In the 89th minute he got his just reward, slotting home at close range from a Denilson back heel.

Goal: Nick ‘the great Dane’ Bendtner (89 minutes)

Arsenal 4 – 0 Twente

What if anything can be discerned from this? We got a great result, although the game was too easy to produce a great performance even though we needed one. Still, look at Liverpool’s stuttering performance, bailed out by never ending European luck, and acknowledge 4-0 in Europe is a fabulous result. Consider there was no need to mention Cesc Fabregas, the team didn’t ask him to carry them today. Overall I think this showed a lot of where this team is at: supremely talented but raw, they have moments of superlative genius, but struggle to dominate like previous models with their passing. They cruised to victory, this was too easy in truth, but they were never forced into showing what they have. Walcott and Bendtner clearly have what it takes, we always knew this about RVP – he just needs to find his form. They were the big performances in my opinion. Almunia had not a single save to make, so no need to mention the defence; Twente were poor throughout and well overmatched away from home.

This side has true talent (Song deserves a mention somewhere for his cameo, an absolute presence in centre midfield) but is not the finished article. We still look in need of a CM, Fabregas cannot be the only character in there this season; but all the other pieces are in place. Nasri, Walcott, Bendtner, Djourou all played well. What we lack is a consistent rhythm to our passing and play, keeping possession to wear sides down and probing for openings, but that will come. Doubts will linger until we play away again, but another game like this on Saturday will restore confidence; if nothing else this should silence the myopic and fickle who sent toys flying out of the pram after Fulham. If this young side is in touch at the New Year everyone should watch out, they will only get better and this was far from bad. Keep the faith.

MOTM: Big Nick Bendtner

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Clichy, Walcott, Denilson, Cesc (66) Nasri (45) Big Nick, RVP (64)

Subs: Fabianski, Toure, Eboue (45) Song (66) Ramsey, Vela, Adebeyor (64)

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