Flamini Has The Va-Va-Voom!
What a game!
Whatever the pre-match hype might have been about, the game itself was all about the players still in an Arsenal shirt and they proved once again that if you write them off they will produce.
And just like against Manchester United we scored a late goal which would usually win the game, but this time Chelsea still found time to get the equaliser – and maybe could have had a bit more!
But Arsenal without Toure, Henry, Gallas, Rosicky and Lauren – essentially the senior members of the squad – the young guns did us proud. The character the players showed against Chelsea was fantastic – and the defence consisting of under 21’s did brilliantly, despite showing signs of inexperience.
Arsene decided to leave out Freddie which was the right decision based on his recent performances, so it was Mathieu Flamini would fill the 5th midfield spot along with Gilberto, Fabregas, Van Persie and Hleb.
The game was frenetic and both sides had decent chances – with Alexander Hleb missing a big, big chance to steal the match. But as it stood Arsenal would probably be happy with a point, although 3 would have been a fantastic result.
The last 15 minutes were so high tempo and Chelsea could have nicked the winner, after replacing the lacklustre Schevchenko with Robben and SWP. The final act of the game was Frank Lampard’s shot that Flamini deflected onto the post after Lehmann spilled from a Robben shot – at the end Arsenal were holding on.
But like Arsene, I was more than proud of the players for their character and the perfomance against Chelsea. That feeling is something no amount of money can buy.
Below are my player ratings for the Chelsea game:
Jens Lehmann – 6/10
Did not have much to do at all until the last 10 minutes, when Chelsea piled forward in numbers. Could have cost Arsenal with dodgy goalkeeping from a corner which luckily Fabregas cleared off the line, and spilled Robben’s shot at the end for Lampard to shoot against the post. Also got involved in stupid antics with Didier Dog Bra.
Emmanuel Eboue – 6/10
Lost the ball in important positions which could have cost Arsenal. Did bomb forward to support Hleb and made some good runs on the right hand side. Struggled with Robben when he came on late in the game.
Philippe Senderos – 7/10
Like Eboue lost the ball carelessly at times which put Arsenal under pressure. Coped with Drogba reasonably well and restricted him to half chances.
Johan Djourou – 8/10
Fantastic at the back keeping Schevchenko quiet and recovered well with his pace and positioning. Didn’t make a mistake and more than capable cover for Gallas and Toure.
Gael Clichy – 8/10
Brilliant on the left – supporting well and confident at the back. Played in Freddie for the cross that Hleb should have scored from for the winner.
Robin Van Persie – 6/10
Played well early on in the match when Arsenal kept possession but once we were on the back foot couldn’t really contribute to the game and was isolated in attack.
Gilberto Silva – 10/10
Man of the Match. Protected the inexperienced backline well and made some vital interceptions and tackles – the most vital stopping Drogba tapping into an empty net after Lehmann saved from Robbens shot. Showed real maturity when things got heated and calmed everything down. A real captains performance, simply outstanding.
Cesc Fabregas – 7/10
Worked hard in midfield and helped Gilberto out well but found it hard to impose himself in an attacking role with only Adebayor upfront. Had a shot in the second half which should have tested the keeper much better. Never stopped running.
Mathieu Flamini – 8/10
Gave 110% as he always does and scored the important opening goal. Fantastic link up play with Hleb for the goal and great positioning to take his chance. Defended well and made that hugely important deflection from Lampard’s shot onto the post in the last minute of the game.
Alexander Hleb – 7/10
Gave the ball away cheaply at times but generally kept the ball well. Never afraid to take on players and looked like the man to make something happen in the final third. Created the goal for Flamini and defended well with Eboue but missed a huge chance to steal all 3 points.
Emmanuel Adebayor – 8/10
Found it hard to play up on his own but never stopped making runs and looked a threat when he had the ball. Took on Terry and Carvalho and showed some decent skills and pace.
Freddie Ljungberg – n/a
Only played the last 10 minutes and made a great chance for Hleb to score.