After what happened in the last 2 Premier League games, the final result is the only thing that really matters. Playing well but ended up going home empty-handed is not what the fans want. Playing bad but ended up with a win in the bag may not also be what the fans like to see but there is only 1 winner if both choices are given. As it is, last night’s match at Liege was the worst performance by Arsenal this season. Though most importantly, Arsenal kick-off their Champions League campaign with a victory away to possibly the toughest opponent in the group.
The opening 5 minutes of the tie was an absolute disaster. From Eduardo callous play at the edge of Arsenal’s penalty box to Eboue giving the ball away at the halfway line, Mannone had nothing else to do but pick up the ball twice from the net. You’ve got to pity the young Italian. He must be pumped up for his first European encounter but was let down by his team who were supposed to give him extra protection to ease his jaggling nerves. Two nil down in an away tie would not have been what Arsene Wenger have wanted after the Manchester defeats.
Scrappy play continued from almost all Arsenal players. Most notably the captain was the main culprit as Fabregas constantly gave the ball away to Liege. Consecutive poor display from him is something that is rare and worrying. Diaby continued his indifferent form by keeping the ball when he should be releasing it earlier and vice versa. Diaby is capable of being so much better and this was apparent in the final minutes of the first half. Wriggling away from 2 Liege players, he drived forward and put in a good slide rule ball for Bendtner to slip between the legs of the keeper to give Arsenal some measure of hope going into the second half.
What Wenger said at half time to inspire his players, it worked to some degree. Penetration was still lacking but there was a marked improvement as the side came out in the second half. The way the 2 goals went in was more luck than skill. An offside and a hand later, Song assisted Vermaelen for his second Arsenal goal. I’ll admit that we don’t deserve that goal but I’ll take it anyway it comes.
For winning this match, Arsene Wenger must really thank his club’s legal team. Those people should be credited with the assist in the winning goal. The good work in scaring UEFA to lifting Eduardo’s ban was Standard Liege’s scourge. As Eduardo knee-in the 3rd goal, Liege players and coach are probably wondering what happened. In the space of 5 minutes, Arsenal had not only equalized but grabbed the lead in the fixture. How they must be rueing UEFA’s decision and conviction, or rather the lack of it.
It may not be the best performance by an Arsenal side in Europe but a win is still a win. Those 3 points will no doubt bring back some confidence into the team. With Rosicky earning another 70 plus minutes run-out and Walcott to return at the weekend, things will undoubtedly start to get better.