Something unbelievable happened yesterday. Did Arsenal win the encounter at DSB Stadion? No, they didn’t. Did AZ Alkmaar managed to overcome the financial disparity and obvious difference in squad strength to upset the odds and defeat Arsenal? No, they didn’t either. It ended 1-1 and turns out to be a real shocker as it was Arsenal’s first ever drawn game this season.
Out of the earlier 13th games, Arsenal have either won or lost the game, majority were wins of course. Will any Gooner be upset at the performance/result? Rightly so, I’d imagined. Will any Gooner be worried of the effect of our first draw? None should be to bothered, I’d guess. Although, this can largely be classified as 2 points dropped rather than 1 point gained, there is still no way I can see Arsenal not qualify from the group. Arsenal are still a point above Olympiakos, so I would say there’s no real disaster from the result.
Due to poor streaming quality (or was it just my bad broadband connection?), I will be unable to give a complete analysis of how Arsenal played. We opened the scoring nearing the 40 minute mark as Andrey Arshavin capitalised on poor ball control from one of Alkmaar’s defenders gave the Russian the chance to nick the ball away from him. Arshavin slipped in Robin Van Persie who in turn provided Cesc Fabregas with the easiest of tap-in to take the lead in Holland. The move itself was pure simplicity, it was the movement of these 3 men that actually opened up Alkmaar. Van Persie’s run off the back of Arshavin created the space for Fabregas to burst into the box unmarked. Again the Spaniard did not exhibit massive explosion of emotion on his face but I couldn’t care less so no point talking about it.
Alkmaar equalised with virtually the last kick of the game. Again Arsenal were undone by a freekick taken by the opposition goalkeeper in the opponent’s half. A header and a shot later, Arsenal returned to London with only a point. Poor marking on the part of Alex Song enabled David Mendes Da Silva with the time and space to volley home is teammates knockdown header. Vito Mannone had no chance and could only stood to watch the ball flew past him into the net. Song, who has been largely Arsenal’s player of the season (if the award is handed out now) and has performed admirably again in the center of the park but switched off in the final minute to allow Mendes Da Silva to get away from him.
Arsene Wenger said we were naive in defending and I concur. Final seconds of the game, freekick to Alkmaar, one nil up, opposition players piling up in Arsenal’s penalty box, why aren’t all players in the box defending the expected long punt? Arshavin was on the halfway line; Ramsey, Fabregas and Vela were loitering outside of the box without marking any Alkmaar players. If this is not naivety, then I don’t know what is. Do they expect to launch a counter attack should Alkmaar’s attack break down? With the time left on the clock, there’s barely even time for Fabregas to pass the ball to Arshavin, let alone go all the way to Alkmaar’s goal. We’ve seen this happen before the past two seasons and this does not appear to be improving. At times like this, leadership on pitch matters. These leaders need to look at the situation and barked orders if they need to.
It was a poor goal to give away although to no extend will it impact Arsenal’s progression to the knockout stage of the Champions League. Just a bit more for Wenger to do running up to the away game at Upton Park this weekend.
Not much, just a bit more.