Thursday, March 12, 2009

When you win on penalties, who cares what happened before?

A long European night in Rome ended with a penalty shoot-out triumph, and for once I'm not going to over-analyse the match.

A midfield of Eboue-Diaby-Denilson-Nasri-Bendtner was always going to struggle away from home, and it was painful at times last night. Bendtner worked hard, Diaby occasionally shone, Nasri had a few moments, but Denilson and Eboue were predictadly average and awful, respectively.

I read today that Eboue is already talking about a contract renewal as he only has one year left on his contract, or something, and that Inter are interested in him.

I would actually be prepared to organise charity events to raise money for Inter to fund his bloody transfer. He's a complete waste of space, and could have ended the tie in London if it wasn't for his predictably woeful finishing. As for Denilson, it seems his taken to being the new 'invisible wall' a little too literally, although he was visible when he gave the ball away at least.

With RvP isolated up-front and blasting the few chances he had over the bar, it turned into a two-drunkards-outside-the pub-slogfest: there was movement, a few dangerous blows, but no knock-out punch. For this, in part, we have to thank Julio 'the Beast' Baptista, who put in what some have called his finest performance for Arsenal last night. Thanks Baps.

That said, apart from a calamitous error which led to the goal, we didn't defend too badly. Sagna was predictably immense, quelle surprise, Kolo and Gallas did ok, with Kolo doing his best to look panicky at every occasion, Clichy was a bit ropey as usual this season, and Almunia was solid. I'm enjoying being proved wrong about Almunia at the moment, long may it continue.

By about the 65-70th minute I was sure the game would go to penalties, with only perhaps our bench likely to provide the spark we needed for a goal. Unfortunately, neither Theo or Eduardo were able to produce anything and the game meandered through a drab period of extra-time.

And so to penalties. We missed, I feared the worst; they missed, my hope returned; they missed again, utter relief. It has to be one of the longest shoot-outs I've seen, and credit to the players for keeping their nerve. A lot of the penalties weren't particularly convincing, but they went in, which is all that matters.

And the same can be said about the result itself. Yes, we were poor in Rome, but we completely outplayed them in the first leg, so, on balance, we deserved to win the tie. Crucially, by the time we play our quarter-final, we should have Fabregas and Rosicky (stop laughing) back, and theo and Eduardo will be much nearer full fitness.

So, with a win against Blackburn and against Hull in the 1/4 finals on Tuesday, our season may just produce silverware yet.

But for now let's just revel in the fact WE WON A PENALTY SHOOT OUT. This is satisfying enough in the short-term, for this goonerboy.

til later.


Anonymous said...

I'm over the moon we're through but I still care about the performance. It was awful. We cannot afford to perform like that if we come up against Man Utd or Barca or Liverpool or Chelsea or we will be punished. Hopefully this gives the lads a huge confidence boost. Respect to them all for giving it their all for the full 120 mins. Overall the main thing is we're through. The performances will come I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

I am delighted that we are through but that performance sapped away all the confidence I had built up after the last couple of results. It seems that, when teams rip into us and close us down, we lose all composure and just simply give the ball away. We just need to hold on to the ball in those situations and take the sting out of the game but we are incapable of doing that. Why do our players so often try to take the most difficult routes? Diaby simply refuses to pass the ball until he has beaten three opponents; Clichy always runs the ball out to the touch line and into a cul-de-sac. What is wrong with the simple route - the straightforward pass to a team-mate? You mentioned Clichy and his decline is quite alarming.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that the defence will let the gunners down similar to last year when within a minute of scoring the crucial away goal, a penalty was conceded.Although I watched the game in sunny Penang,i could see that clichy is culpable at full back. Diaby for all I know wants to be another mazy dribbler when the game is all about speed.
The gunners conjured few scoring chances and frankly speaking,mental strength or not ,sterner tests lie in wait.The problem is if the gunners were drawn against another English team,AW's playing style is obvious to them. Deny the gunners time and space and you will be surprised how effective it is.
The name of the game is winning and not weaving intricate beautiful patterns.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree with the fan who says that when teams rip into the gunners like a pitbull,the gunners are harried into making misplaced passes.The gunners or AW better know teams whether epl or cl teams aint going to give you time and space. The sooner the lesson is digested the better.
Arsenal play like a continental team. Rm were torn apart by a rampant Pool.I fear that Aw will persist in his beautiful game when it's obvious to all and even my 99 yr old gm that hey you can't play like that.
Incidentally the gunners were given a lesson last season in the carling cup tie when the rampaging spurs tore into them.If AW has not learned that lesson well, he never will and all gonner fans can forget about any trophy haul.

Anonymous said...

Yes if we had won the bloody thing but we qualified to the next knock out phase,we didnt win it and on that account many questions must be asked,we seriously need someone in midfield as good as Fabregas or at least someone with passing ability and aggression.It was a bloody shambolic performance and if this is how Wenger answers his critics then god,allah and budda help us.

Anonymous said...

This Sat game against Blackburn give the gunners the perfect opportunity to get level with Av. Spurn it meaning draw or even lose,the euphoria after the cl qf will bring all gunners back to earth with a thud.
The gunners aint clinical enuf and could be severely punished in both the epl and cl. My take is there are too many passes bf the final shot. This is obvious to all fans.
I am hoping that the gunners will have turned the corner and banging in goals for fun.