Arsenal Made Their Own Luck (w/ Player Ratings)

Celtic (0) – (2) Arsenal
Gallas (43′), Caldwell OG (71′)
Celtic Park, Scotland

Not the free flowing football from Saturday, but an impressive, frustrating and fortunate game tonight. And it’s very rare to have all of those contrasting components in a football match!

The impressive was our defensive unit.

I’ve said for a long time that while we would have a good defence on paper, the fact was we couldn’t defend as a team. Too many times we would be exposed, and we saw what happened – nights like the one we had against Spurs in that 4-4 draw. Too many times we’d get caught out.

But tonight, we were excellent.

Vermaelen is sensational. I can’t speak highly enough of this guy. I’m almost speechless.

Nevermind that he’s only playing his second game with Arsenal, he is a godsend. He was stunningly good tonight and for me, the Man of the Match. He is great in the air, his tackling is breathtaking and the number of interceptions he made was mind-boggling.

F*ck me Wenger has done it again.

He did it with Sagna, and now he’s done it with Vermaelen.

But with him, Gallas, Clichy and Sagna all had excellent games. Gallas looks totally different alongside the Belgian and the fullbacks had very solid games as well.

And very encouragingly, Denilson and Song look to have come on leaps and bounds.

They were fantastic as well. They both played the best I have ever seen them play in an Arsenal shirt.

Their tackling (along with Fabregas’) has improved ten fold. Tonight, Song didn’t put a foot wrong. He was quick, solid and his passing was accurate and not sloppy in the slightest (which it has been over recent seasons). Denilson was almost equally as good, although there were a few stray passes now and then.

And we know Fabregas is quality.

The captain was roughed up quite a bit, but still managed to get hugely involved with the play and he covered the most ground from all the players on the pitch tonight.

Now on to the frustrating.

We had a decent amount of the ball but were very wasteful in front of goal, and in particular in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

We kept swarming forward with the ball but the end product was severely lacking. Bendtner, Van Persie and Arshavin all had decent opportunities to test the keeper but most of the shots were dragged wide. If they had been on top form, we could have really had something similar to the Everton game.

But it was the same problem as the weekend. Eduardo (who was injured tonight) was the only forward who actually scored against Everton and tonight the strikers drew blanks again. Of course it’s a good thing that the midfield and defence are chipping in with goals but sooner or later the strikers need to get the ball into the net. But after winning tonight I suppose I’m just nit-picking.

It’s just that with such a brilliant performance from the defence and midfield, the icing on the cake would have been if the strikers could show that killer instinct in front of goal. We had a lot of shots towards goal but the Celtic goalkeeper only had one save of note to make, and that was from a Fabregas shot in the second half.

And the fortunate?

Well all the Arsenal critics (like the ones from the weekend) will say that Arsenal were lucky again tonight.

The fact is though that you make you own luck in football. Arsenal deserved their goals on the balance of play, and while it’s fair to say Celtic didn’t do much wrong in conceding those goals they rarely tested Almunia in all honesty.

The first goal was deflected freekick off William Gallas. He’s our top scorer at the moment alongside Cesc.

And the second was after good work from Clichy on the left, whose cross was put into his own net by Celtic captain Caldwell. Bendtner was lurking behind anyway so would have scored if the defender missed it.

Overall, a fantastic result and impressive team display without the killer instinct. But they say a sign of a quality team is one that still win without completely playing well, so I’ll take more of these kind of wins alongside the pretty ones.

I do have to mention that it seems like Arsenal have changed their approach and game this season. Along with the ‘new’ formation, it’s clear that they play the ball around with much more purpose and play a smoother one-touch passing game. It is strange (but also refreshing) that players like Song and Denilson are so comfortable with one-touch play, as you are used to them controlling the ball before playing it. The only player that still takes 2, 3 and even 4 touches (in the entire team) is Nicklas Bendtner.

Player Ratings

Manuel Almunia: 7/10
Didn’t have anything to do really.

Bacary Sagna: 8/10
Up and down the right side again and solid at the back.

William Gallas: 9/10
Excellent. Made tackle after tackle and always looked in control. Made a fantastic interception from a cross in the second half when the game was carefully poised at 1-0. A mistake there could have changed the game, and it was a decisive moment. Looks much more comfortable alongside Vermaelen.

Thomas Vermaelen: 10/10
As I’ve already mentioned he was the Man of the Match for me. How many times have we seen Arsenal not quite click up top and then pay for it by conceding sloppy goals? In times gone by that could of happened but this guy is rock solid. I can’t really describe how good he was tonight. He was everywhere, and on top of being a brilliant defender he can pass the ball too. Take a bow son.

Gael Clichy: 8/10
Solid, and like Sagna full of running. There were one or two moments where you questioned his decision-making but overall had a good game and he made the second goal which could prove to be hugely important.

Alex Song: 9/10
I’ve been one of his harshest critics but he was right up there with Vermaelen for me tonight. He did not put a foot wrong, and if performances like this are what he’s capable of this season then we should be very excited. Looks like a different player – quicker, more intelligent and much better with his tackling.

Denilson: 8/10
He looks to have stepped up his game as well. His passing has improved, his positioning has improved and it looks like his fitness and pace have too. Still prone to a sloppy ball now and then (Fabregas and Arshavin won’t be thanking him for a couple of suicide balls) but I’m sure he will improve on that as well.

Cesc Fabregas (Captain): 8/10
The hub of the team yet again, and pretty much dictated the game. Slightly wasteful on occasion but probably fatigue from the weekend.

Andrei Arshavin: 6/10
Not really in the game, and seemed to struggle. I expected him to explode tonight but it never happened, and you wonder if he’s struggling with the new system. Was on the periphery of the game in the first half and disappeared in the second. His passing and shooting just seemed off tonight as well.

Nicklas Bendtner: 7/10
Full of running and held the ball up well at times. You sensed that he’s getting used to his new position on the right, as well as being a regular starter for Arsenal. As the season goes on you know he’ll improve.

Robin Van Persie: 7/10
Always wanted to be involved but just lacked that little bit of quality (which he has in abundance) at the vital time, whether it was a final ball or shooting opportunity. On his day, he would have scored a brace tonight.


13 thoughts on “Arsenal Made Their Own Luck (w/ Player Ratings)

  1. I reckon you’re out of line on arshavin. he was much better than fabregas. Just have a quick look at fabregas completed passes. It was a bit under 70% which is really bad!

  2. I agree with most of what you’ve said. Our new Belgiun is superb. He has all the ability of toure on the ground, is stronger in the air, and is much more intelligent. What an upgrade. Song was great as well. My only disagreement is with Arshavin. I thought his touch and passing were good today. It’s Van Persie that seems off form. What’s wrong with Eduardo?

  3. Good post man, agree with it all. The Verminator is living up to his new name!! Immense tonight, that phase where he put three hard tackles on that same guy.. made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! He really does look like the ‘hardman’ defender we have really craved. Also have to mention his lung bursting run to intercept that ball played into our box. Outstanding. Song is developing into something very special for us, his physique is immense and he can really break up opposition play for us (something we have sorely missed since the flamster) his distribution has progressed immeasurably. My only frustration is that when we hit the second i wish wenger had put young Jack on and maybe one more as well as Diaby, maybe Vela? Give Celtic more to think about and with that talent maybe grab a couple more goals too!! All fickle thoughts though i guess after a satisfying evening being a Gooner sitting in wales’ green pastures with a spliff lol ; )

  4. ITS ALL ABOUT ALEX SONG NOW 🙂 I WILL REPLICATE HIS PERMS NEXT MORNING. Sorry Eboue, I’m gonna have to ditch you for now..

  5. All those asking for Wenger to sign Cana, Moses, devil, simpson, AbrahAM, mOHAMMED, King Solomon, should I beg leave Wenger to do his job. This man have been coaching football longer than most of the Blog writers have been alive (LeGrove). Wenger made an unknown little african player players into world football players of the year (Weah), if it’s one thing Wenger knows is he can judge talent, there is no one else like him at judging talent.

    I think we can now understand the real problem with Arsenal last year was Ade and Kolo, Arsenal fell too far in one year for our team to just become so lousy.

  6. You lot have all taken the words out of my mouth about Vermaelen!
    I Actually love this guy…!
    he is defintatley what we have been misssing hes jus our hardman!
    he dont give a fuck he just goes into the tackle n 99% of the time he wins it!
    i gotta agree…. arshavin had a really quiet game but his little passes and that jus create DANGER straight away!
    imgaine this for a line up!





    Hangeland (Hopefull)
    Maultidi (Hopefull)
    Van Der Varrt (Hoepfull)
    Van Perise

    With Alsoo

    But i do only think that maultidi and hangerland join and the only departue is being senderos….
    chamakh to sign in august dead line day or in january (when his contract runs out)

  7. I agree that our defence was amazing and Song looks like the defensive sheild we’ve been craving. He and Vermaelen we’re my MOTM. I personally don’t think we passed the ball very well tonight. Song and Vermaelen were our best passers. Fabregas only managed 69% completed passes which is way bellow his standards. But I’m not complaining. We needed to learn how to win in a scrappy way and that’s what we’ve done. I thought Arshavin didn’t play that well but he also didn’t get very good service so it’s a toss up. I agree he looks a little out of place in the new system but he’ll get it. Maybe Wenger will shuffle him around. Should have put on a couple more subs to change things up towards the end.

  8. I mostly agree with your assessment, although I had Song as MOTM. He is really becoming a great ball winner! It was really a solid, composed performance. Wenger really knew what he was doing when he offloaded Toure and Adebyewhore, because the team chemistry is great.

  9. An amazing match very defensive it was nerve racking song dan and gas and vpr clichy got hammered hope all are fine and raring to go again in good health ,brilliant start 2 for gas and 2 for galas and alumunia for convection but have to have it right through the season sahas goal shouldn’t have gone in and we were not firing well but the result is celebrating congratulations
    The energy of the team indicated a winning team looking forward for Sunday

  10. Pretty much spot on, decent analysis.

    I was surprised with Denilson and Song, they were great tonight. You’re right to point out the front three though, they don’t seem to be gelling at the moment.

    Very encouraging about Vermaelen – I agree he was fantastic, but I just fear what would happen if he got injured for any length of time. Especially if we do lose Senderos to Everton.

  11. I’m a racist fuck with nothing else to do than give the hard man big balls to compensate for the lack of control I have over my own life and the fact that my mrs is shagging someone richer, funnier and better looking than me. I mean – the man can actuall spell for fucks sake!

    Sorry for what I said the other day – I was out of order. I’m going to go to a counsellor to get help with my anger. I’m a rageaholic. I love rageahol.

    In future I promise to count to 10 before posting.

    I especially want to say sorry for all that bollocks about cutting people and being hard. I’m 5 foot 6 and built like a small girl, in every department. This has a lot to do with why I get angry.

    Please don’t hate me, the internets is the only place I have friends. That and at the bottom of the glass at the Tarman.

    I love you all, that’s why I’m tugging my cock.

    Gooner / Pav (short for Pavement dweller. It’s the nickname the old bill gave me when I was a homeless rent boy).


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