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Alkmaar3

Tricked you

Ok. I’ll admit if you think that’s lame but that pretty much sums up the match doesn’t it. Andrey Arshavin had a blast as Arsenal met (thrash) Alkmaar in the Champions League encounter last night. Qualification is not mathematically secured yet but it would take a miraculous set of results for Arsenal not to go through.

For all of Ronald Koeman’s superb record against Wenger’s Arsenal, he knew that with the latest team he had, they have a mountain to climb to claim anything from this game. Alkmaar came into the game very much prepared to defend, defend and defend. These are the games which previous Arsenal squads have failed to break down. For the moment, we have not witness the same thing this season.

As expected Gibbs came in for the injured Clichy while on the other flank, our weekend assists hero, Bacary Sagna got the rest he deserved as Eboue deputised for him at right back. This allow Wenger to field Nasri and generally put out a more attacking side than he normally would in an European tie. While Eboue put in a steady shift, he does not seem to be himself yesterday. The exuberance was gone from his game and there was less forays into the opposition half than normally expected. Defensively I have no qualms. Was he sick?

Fabregas continued his wonderful scoring streak with another 2 well taken goals. First, he cut in-field and sent a low shot passed the despairing dive of Romero in the Alkmaar goal. The ball moved very slowly even on the watered surface but Romero’s reaction was even slower. It was perfect for us because it meant that Alkmaar would’ve to come out from their shell and we would have more space to roam.

His second early in the second half sealed the tie. Collecting Arshavin’s inch perfect through ball, he was too smart for the Argentinian keeper who was expecting a shot to the far corner when instead Fabregas chose the near post to plant the ball into the net.

Which makes me wonder just a bit. There’s always a tendency for professional players to shoot the ball in certain directions, which in a way makes it easier for the keeper to react when the movement of the ball is expected. If you think you can score this type of goal in the park or when playing with friends, then you are mistaken. As amateurs, we always need to emulate the professionals to look good. While sometimes for the professionals themselves, they need a little bit of Sunday football stuffs.

Nasri got the second goal towards the end of the first half. What I absolutely love about this goal is the way he just used his body movement to sent an Alkmaar defender sprawling without so much as moving the ball. Diaby scored a good breakaway goal late in the second half to seal a comprehensive victory for Arsenal that started with Eduardo’s mischievous back-heel pass for Arshavin. Diaby had another solid if not spectacular game in the middle of the park tonight.

Now, if you read my comments for this season, there has been many posts in which I was not happy with the contribution of Arshavin. In fact, this season as far as I can remember, he has underperformed in my eyes. Is the bar set too high? Were we spoilt by his performance in his first 6 months at the club? I don’t think it’s either. For someone who is as good as him, we need to expect a certain level of performance from Arshavin. What makes it even more disappointing is his workrate when his game isin’t working for him. However it was a different Arshavin that put on the no. 23 shirt yesterday. He was making the runs, being unselfish and tracking back when necessary. That 3 of the goals Arsenal scored yesterday can be contributed to him for the assist is an example of the kind of level he can perform. He won’t be able to that every single match but I sure would like to see more commitment and I’m hoping yesterday’s game will kick-start his season.

The European journey continues.

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