Archive for the ‘Champions League’ Category

Adebayor (23)
Kuyt(26)

Well, after a long hiatus, I am back. Did you miss me?

As everyone knows, this will be the first of 3 consecutive Arsenal-Liverpool matches. Two Champions League matches and one EPL match.

It turned out to be quite a lively game. Caught it in a makan place with multitudes of Liverpool fans. Several Arsenal fans were also present but were more vocal partly due to the fact that Arsenal were more in the thick of the action(attacking wise)

We started with Toure covering in right back due to Sagna’s injury. Senderos replacing him in central defence. Adebayor and Robin started up front. Liverpool also started with a centreback in the fullback’s position. Carragher went to left with Skrtel and Hyppia in the centre.

First chance fell to Ade when Reina rushed out missing the ball completely but recovers to block the ensuing cross attempt.

Van Persie had a few chances.

Firstly, a Flamini through ball dropped in for a first time shot but he couldn’t get a firm hold of the shot. What a goal that would have been……

Secondly, a Cesc pass to him was shot but Reina got it away for a corner which Robin took. I have to add here that Robin is our best set piece taker bar none. It showed when the short corner(via Cesc) was curled in by him and found Ade in the open and the Togonator added to measly goal tally in the Champions League this season(now up to two). We were controlling the game and it looked peachy but the joy was shortlived.

Somehow, three minutes later, Gerrard got past three Arsenal defenders and sent a ball in which Kuyt bundled in amongst the bodies of Senderos and Clichy. Bad defence all around.

Liverpool closed the first half strongly. At the start of the second, we saw Theo coming in. Robin was replaced. A thigh injury says the commentator. Shit, not again.

Best chance early one fell to Theo’s burst of speed and with every defender backing off, he unleashed a shot which went just wide. He continued to pose problems to the Liverpool defence but the team did not try to find him though. Is he not vocal enough or doesn’t participate in team banter? There has to be a problem somewhere.

Anyhow, my comments on the next Arsenal chance: “A CLEAR PENALTY”. Kuyt brought down Hleb by pulling his arm thereby stemming his run. How could the referee miss that even though he clearly saw the whole incident?

Liverpool were let off again later when Adebayor’s shot was palmed away from Reina and found a onrushing Cesc. However, his poke in was blocked by the massive frame of Nicklas Bendtner who came in for Eboue not too long before that.

That really is advantage Liverpool however you look at it. Hopefully, Robin will be alright but I ain’t getting my hopes up. Onto the League game then.

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Arsenal v AC Milan

Well, we got it. A big name. Flamini v Gattuso. Robin v Kaka. Pirlo v Cesc. It’s going to be a tasty one.

The fixtures are already out:

1st leg
Arsenal v AC Milan
Wednesday 20th February 2008
Kick Off 7.45 (UK time)
At Emirates Stadium

2nd leg
AC Milan v Arsenal
Tuesday 4th March 2008
Kick Off 7.45 (UK time)
At San Siro Stadium

This was the rest of the draw (1st leg home team named first)

Celtic v Barcelona
Lyon v Manchester United
Schalke v Porto
Liverpool v Inter Milan
Roma v Real Madrid
Olympiakos v Chelsea
Fenerbahce v Sevilla

Diaby (8), Bendtner (42) 

Zaharia(69)

Match Gunner: Robin Van Persie-Still brilliant after the long lay-Off. (special mention to Theo)

  

We came into this match needing to win and Sevilla to lose to Sparta in order to top the group. Wenger had a touchline ban for this match due to the altercation in the Sevilla game.
Before the game, Wenger hinted on his team for this match by announcing that Arsenal is not afraid of “big” teams. Lehmann got his start and Wenger suggested that Jens would be off sooner than later.

Surprisingly, Van Persie, after that bone crunching injury sustained during international duty, was named on the starting line up. Diaby was another surprising inclusion after his injury. Everyone’s favourite, Song was also named in the starting 11.

This is how we started

GK-Lehmann
DL-Traore
DR-Sagna
DC-Gallas
DC-Senderos
ML-Diaby
MR-Walcott
MC-Song
MC-Denilson
ST-Van Persie
ST-Bendtner

We were expected to stroll to a victory here and for once in recent games, the expectations were realized, although the scoreline failed to reflect that.

2nd minute and a good chance arrived when Robin’s pass found Theo on the right and he pulled his shot just wide. Minutes later, his ran past a few defenders but skied his shot.8th minute and the goal arrived. Robin started the move with a smart turn and found Sagna. Sagna’s cross was brought down by Diaby under immense pressure . His first touch took a lucky bounce off the pitch forward and his second touch found the top corner of the net. 1-0 and we were looking nice and comfortable with a second Diaby goal only denied by a nice save by the Steaua keeper.

We were looking threatening and the outstanding players were Theo and Robin. Theo’s pace on the right wing was causing problems and Robin’s excellent technique and turns were a joy to behold. It didn’t seem like his first game back. He was directly involved in the second. An exquisite goal. He made a bewildering turn that left the defense for dead and angled a pass to Bendtner on the right. Bendtner had all to do then but took his goal like a seasoned pro. He went pass the closing defender and slide in the shot pass the onrushing keeper. 2-0 up.

 

Second half came and there were a few chances here and there.
Suddenly Steaua were looking dangerous and it was our turn to do some defending
Robin was brought and Dudu in. Steaua made a few changes of their own and both their subs were involved in their goal. A looping header which left Jens with no chance.

Diarra and Eboue were brought in for Diaby and Sagna. Theo, Bendtner and Dudu had a few chances between them but failed to convert and the game finished 2-1. Nice. The 3-0 win from Sevilla meant that we finish second in Group H and will meet another group’s winner in the knock out phase. I say, bring them on. That is what Champions League is all about. Champions against Champions.

Moving on to the match against Chelsea. Wenger had some thoughts on the players available paricularly Hleb,Flamini and Cesc. I would suspect Flamini and Hleb/Cesc to be involved.

Eduardo (11)

Keita (24), Luis Fabiano (34), Kanoute 89 (pen)

Match Gunner: Nicklas Bendtner

We went into this match without Adebayor, Gallas (both rested) and Clichy (injured).

All in all, the only regular first teamers on the field were Cesc, Kolo, Rosicky, Eboue and Almunia.

Bendner started up top

Gilberto, Rosicky, Cesc, Eboue, Eduardo in the middle

Hoyte, Traore, Senderos, Kolo at the back with Almunia rounding it up.

I didn’t catch this one as I had a late night. It seems like I missed an exciting match. Dudu’s goal was perhaps the highlight for us as Cesc had an off night and we were more or less WELL BEATEN. It seems like Cesc might have picked up an injury though.

Their goals came via Keita, a header from Luis Fabiano via an Alves set piece and a penalty by ex-Spurs player Kanoute

Sevilla played well and deserved their win. This is testified by both Wenger and captain Toure. It would have been even worse if the penalty against Senderos was not recalled by the referee.

This blip ends our “unbeaten in all competitions tag” and it is well worth it. Many might judge Wenger for sending such a radically changed team to Sevilla. I say why not. We have qualified. Sevilla is a top team and would benefit our reserve players greatly to play a competitive game against them. Our December EPL fixtures are crazy(Look below for details). Wenger thinks so too.

We had to make a decision because we have a very heavy programme. You could see some players who played all the games got injured. We have a very important December. I knew we had to make choice in the different competitions and, to me, December is based on the Premier League

Coming up in December, we have these fixtures. A mind boggling 9 matches with 6 of them away.

As Wenger says.

I don’t regret that. I wanted some players exposed to the top level and I am happy having done it

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz……………………..Oh? We’re through?? Yay…