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Arsenal continued their high scoring streak in the Champions League as the Ukrainian champions were sent packing with a 5 goal salvo from us. Shakhtar Donetsk were expected to be the main challenger to us for the top spot in the group but the game itself tells a completely different story. Although to be fair, it was just a day when everything came off right.
Alex Song started the ball rolling after a fumble by Shakhtar’s keeper. Song’s cheeky cross-legged tap-in could’ve ended up very embarrassingly had it not been for a double deflection as their defender was quick to recover. Then Samir Nasri put us 2 in front going into half time as he controlled a Song cross and finished with his left foot. Good start but it is really starting to worry me to see Song venturing further forward than Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fabregas.
Oh, I didn’t mention that our captain returned to the side last night did I? It was another seamless transition for him and he looked like he was never out from the side. Achieving almost telepathic understanding with his team mates whom he had not played together for 5 games now. Fabregas scored the third as Johan Djourou was wrestled to the ground when a freekick was being delivered to the box.
News after the game mentioned that Fabregas have not suffered any ill-effects of returning to the game and that augurs well to our chances against Manchester City at the weekend. Perhaps Arsene Wenger was also trying to protect him by transferring the dead ball duties to Nasri. The Frenchman generally has good delivery from set-piece and yesterday’s performance supported that notion. Or maybe it was in Wenger’s mind to start delegating those duties to other players to prepare for the inevitable day.
Wilshere has another monstrous game in the middle of the park but could so easily have repeated his red card offence very early on. Luckily for us, this was less dangerous, a fact acknowledged by the referee who only gave him a stern warning. Fabregas may have returned but little Jack was really the one who took control of the game. Exchanging passes with Tomas Rosicky at the edge of Shakhtar’s box, he went on to clip the ball over the advancing keeper for our fourth of the night.
With the game sewn-up, Wenger threw in some fresh legs. Fabregas, Nasri and Marouane Chamakh all got the chance to have a little breather and able to watch the rest of the game via the comfort of the stands. However, that was not before Chamakh scored his second in as many consecutive games at the Grove. Nasri’s clever flick found the Moroccan, who was lucky to be put onside by a slow-reacting Shakhtar player. Like with Song, Chamakh could also have missed as he turned to check whether he was onside and got really near to the keeper.
The loudest cheer of the night was reserved for the opposition. The moment arrived when Eduardo was summoned onto the pitch and he was very warmly received by the home fans. In fact, I may have some tear in my eyes at that particular moment. Sometimes in life, it gives you a wonderful moment. For Eduardo, that was probably in the 82nd minute of the game. He finished off a move which he started and neither Sebastian Squillaci nor Lukasz Fabianski could do anything about it. While we would’ve preferred not to concede, it ensured that Eduardo got another round of massive thank you and support from the fans. It was amazing to see Arsenal fans cheering for the opposition goal.
This was another wonderful win in Europe and it almost ensures our qualification to the next phase but there is no point in thinking about that until we actually are mathematically through. A day of rest and we need to put this win behind us. The reason is that we face a side who are threatening to take one of the Champions League spot or even attempt a tilt at the league title and also because some idiot made us angry there last season.
You can see that I did not mention much about Rosicky. Will cover that tomorrow. Till then, have a nice one.