Tag Archives: Abou Diaby

Brainy Chelsea out-think lacklustre Arsenal

You know it’s bad when you try and think of the ‘good’ moments of a match and the most prominent element is the fact that Man United lost a totally seperate game.

Arsenal lost its way and its first match of the season, coming undone against a thoroughly professional Chelsea side at the Emirates. Fernando Torres’s neat finish compounded some poor defending by Laurent Koscielny, before Gervinho’s tidy work in the box saw us level just before the break. But despite looking an improved side after the break, Arsenal conceded for a second time, again from a free kick, when Juan Mata’s free kick went unchallenged in the box as Koscielny helped it in on its way.

The first goal came after one of many fouls in dangerous areas from Thomas Vermaelen, allowing Mata the chance to size up our defence, which came up seriously short. Koscielny had a nightmare all game, and it started with the total mismanagement of Torres. The defender looked to be in a wrestling match with the forward, but made the crucial mistake of turning his back on the goal, allowing the Spaniard to get a leg around him and toe poke home. Clever stuff from the striker and amateurish from Koscielny.

It was nearly 2-0 to Chelsea when Koscielny again lost out to Torres, who raced into the box, only to trip over his own feet allowing the defence to clear.

Arsenal never found a rhythm, yet somehow found itself level just before the break as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got forward, had time to look up, and belt a good cross at Gervinho in the box. The Ivorian, his back to goal, did well to control the ball, spin and shoot in one movement to lash the ball past Cech and equalise on half-time.

Our most fluid moments seemed to follow the half-time whistle for a period of eight minutes, but again we found ourselves behind after a Mata free kick. The ball evaded everyone, bounced in front of the keeper, and Koscielny could do little but try and flick it away, and instead helped it home.

It was a deflating moment. Though they were playing well before the second goal, taking the lead just confirmed the level of control both Mata and bazillionaire Eden Hazard had over the game. The two forwards were running the show, making our much hyped Santi Cazorla anonymous in comparison.

The game had started badly enough when Abou Diaby limped off after just 10 minutes with what looked like another innocuous injury. Having to immediately reshuffle the line-up so soon did us no favours, but the passing throughout the side was bad yesterday. First touches were heavy and the pass to no-one was frequently deployed at the most inopportune times.

Failing that, the amount of space we afforded Chelsea was really irritating. Surely this team knows how much impetus it gets from closing down and hassling opponents, allowing us to break high up the pitch. On Saturday, no such thing could be seen, neutering the influence Lukas Podolski and Cazorla have been having lately. Mikel Arteta had a rare bad game, with the aforementioned Mata and Hazard constantly speeding past him when he wasn’t able to foul them. Furthermore, his passing was also pretty questionable throughout. Continue reading

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Zonal Mertesacker, Koscielny earn Arsenal stellar point

Arsenal came from behind to secure a deserved point at the home of the champions on Sunday evening, thanks to a fantastic finish from defender Laurent Koscielny.

It could have been three points were it not for Gervinho’s wayward finishing and a poor first touch, as we spurned early and late chances to grab a deserved, if not widely expected win.

A case of the flu saw captain Thomas Vermaelen sit out this match, meaning a first start of the season for Koscielny, thrown into the lion’s den alongside Per Mertesacker. Aaron Ramsey also made his first start, surprisingly picked on the right wing with Gervinho continuing down the middle.

Arsenal started the game with intent, zipping the ball around with command and bossing the game with possession play. Ramsey linked up with Arteta to provide a great through-ball for Gervinho on 15 minutes, but the Ivorian’s touch was awful as he ran towards the box, stumping the ball straight at keeper Joe Hart.

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Mancini fears Djourou and overhypes Arsenal

Holy fudgebuckets, I’m psyched for this one, ladies and gents. A chance for this team, developing on a very encouraging trajectory, to take on the Premier League champions on their own patch.

I’m up for it. You’re all up for it, and I’m sure the team is up for the chance to well and truly announce themselves in the title-chase proper.

We’re coming up against a Man City side that is no doubt dangerous, very capable and very intelligent (more so with the loss of Samir Nasri to injury, nyuck nyuck) that could potentially pummel us into the ground with their megabucks signings.

Or, they could be swept off their feet by the Arsenal possession game. When this team gets it right, not many can withstand them, and we’re all hoping that is indeed the case at Middle Eastlands.

Man City have been defensively suspect in the early stages of the season so far, and I’m hoping that with our added discipline, we could steal a very memorable result. We’re not favourites by any means, but this is football. You just never know.

City manager Roberto Mancini isn’t writing us off either, going the whole hog to big us up as the greatest team to ever play the game. It’s an obvious tactic to 1) soften us up with compliments and 2) snap any complacency out of his own side. So you can guarantee both the Sky Blues and their home fans will be raring to go tonight. Continue reading

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Arsenal get lucky with three points in the bag

Arsenal’s Champions League campaign got off and running with maximum points, but only after a difficult examination from French champions Montpellier at the Stade de la Mosson.

Despite establishing the upper hand in the first 10 minutes, Thomas Vermaelen contrived to concede a penalty after going in for the challenge on Younes Belhanda in the box, only to make contact with the forward’s foot rather than the ball. The gifted Moroccan put away the cheekiest of penalties that seemed to stay in the air for an age before nestling in the back of the net.

But as quickly as it took for us to find ourselves behind, we were even quicker to work our way in front. Lukas Podolski capped off a stunning counter with the equaliser after Santi Cazorla pinged a pass to Olivier Giroud, who’s delicate touch found the German forward all on his own in the box. Podolski, cool as liquid nitrogen, feinted a shot to wrong foot the keeper and lash home for 1-1.

Two minutes later, Arsenal was in the lead after Gervinho angled a great run from the right-hand side towards the middle as the ball found its way to Carl Jenkinson on the flank. The young right back hit an excellent low cross as Gervinho continued his run, leaving him with a simple finish from two yards out to make it 2-1.

Arsenal were pretty much on top for the majority of the first half, but chances were rare. Gibbs made a run up the flank before unloading a cross in Giroud’s direction, but the centre wasn’t quite right as the forward tried a difficult volley that went high over the bar.

The Belhanda penalty: jump for it, Mannone!

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Montpellier scratching our complacency itch

Once again, Arsenal embarks on yet another (ill-fated?) Champions League campaign. That’s 15 consecutive qualifications under Arsene Wenger. The naysayers will point to the fact all it has yielded is one runner-up gong, but all you have to do is look at how robbed Spurs felt with Chelsea stealing their entry from them, or how hard they celebrated on the one occasion they did qualify.

As an opening fixture, we have French champions Montpellier (pronunciation guide!) to contend with. It comes before we take on English champions Man City this weekend, followed by European champions Chelsea soon after. Rotation will play a factor in selection, but given there is a five-day gap until the following fixture, I anticipate only minor tweaks. The first team will be pushed to the limit in the league, before getting a small break in our first League Cup match against Coventry.

The team will have arrived in France ahead of our first Champions League clash with Olivier Giroud’s former club, and you can expect our new striker to start on his old hunting ground. The pressure on him to score has been enormous, possibly more than other new arrivals over the years given the player he was replacing. Nevertheless, almost no-one in the Arsenal camp is buying the ‘flop’ label opponents have dished out, given he has only started twice and come off the bench on two other occasions. Tonight, against his former club with whom he won Ligue 1, will be the perfect opportunity to banish a few gremlins. Continue reading

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