By Rachid Parchment
A game we thought would be tighter than virginity proved to be far from that last night. Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners in quite an impressive display. Villarreal got the action underway but the first really significant moment of the match came in the 10th minute after Eboue played a great ball beyond the Villarreal backline which Theo Walcott ran unto, after it was dummied by Fabregas, and cooly chipped over the head of Diego Lopez, in the Villarreal goal to make it 1-0. About 17 minutes later Arsenal almost doubled their lead as a free kick from the edge of the box by Robin van Persie made its way to the back post to Emmanuel Adebayor who flicked the ball off his head towards the Villarreal goal. Robert Pires stepped in to make a desperate clearance but almost put it into his own goal but a last ditch clearance off the line by a Villarreal defender spared Pires of any embarrassment on his return to play in front of the Arsenal fans. The Arsenal players appealed to the referee to have the goal given but he waved their protests away. I for one am glad it wasn’t a goal because I’ve been looking forward to Pires’ return to Arsenal for so long and would’ve been heartbroken to see such a tragic thing happen to him.
Arsenal would continue to dominate the half and take a 1-0 lead into the halftime interval.
When the second half started Arsenal kept their foot on the gas and in the 60th minute Emmanuel Adebayor would double the Gunners’ lead. Robin van Persie pulled two of the Villarreal defenders unto him before playing a pass wide left into the Villarreal area and it was latched unto by Emmanuel Adebayor and he tucked it quite easily under Diego Lopez into the far corner. Great finish! Even Arsene Wenger couldn’t hold back his excitement after seeing that goal:
The third and final goal came in the 70th minute but unfortunately under controversial circumstances. Sebastian Erugen was judged to have brought down Theo Walcott illegally in the box but the replays showed he clearly won the ball. The referee had a lousy game and some would even argue that his decisions were biased towards Arsenal. So Erugen was sent off after receiving his second caution of the night and Arsenal earned a penalty. Robin van Persie stepped up and dispatched the ball with some pace beyond Diego Lopez to put Arsenal 3-0 up. That being van Persie’s 17th goal of the season.
3-0 down, 1 man down, Villarreal were done and dusted and Arsenal were on cruise control for the rest of the match and never even looked in trouble of conceding.
Overall a very impressive display by The Arsenal and now they’ll meet Manchester United in the Semi Finals beginning on the 28th of this month. There can be no complaints about individual performances last night and everyone that played should be proud of their efforts – especially Lukasz Fabianski and Kieran Gibbs, who many thought would crumble under the pressure of a Quarter Final fixture in the Champions League. Glad to see Pires get such a rapturous applause from the home fans after the game too.
“I believe that I was more impressed by the quality of our game and overall the speed of our game. Overall I believe against Villarreal who have a very good technical level, we gave them problems where they didn’t like it. That means going in behind them with the ball and being very explosive in our counter-attacking. We did that very well.”
Now the team looks ahead to Chelsea and I believe that many teams will be looking at us more respectfully now and not as the team that couldn’t beat Fulham, Hull, Stoke, Man City and Aston Villa earlier this season. Theo Walcott shares the same sentiment:
“There is a lot of confidence in the dressing room, everyone is buzzing,” he said. “We feel every team are scared of us as soon as we step on the pitch. It’s great to play when things are going like that.
“We are playing brilliant football and scoring goals from all sorts of positions which helps the team.
“We are defending well and even though we have players out injured, others are coming in and doing just as good a job.”
He’s completely right and with our current injury crisis many have thought it would bring an end to our run of unbeaten games but the lads are continually proving that belief wrong. If I were a Chelsea fan I’d be worried about facing Arsenal in the FA Cup this Saturday. Chelsea have conceded 7 goals in their last two home games, 3 of them to Bolton. Arsenal on the other hand haven’t lost to English opposition since November and many teams are beginning to take note of this.
Right, well unto the player ratings then:
Fabianski – 8 Didn’t have many saves to make last night but was always alert and ready to clear the ball from the area if needs be.
Eboue – 7 Confident and solid performance, went forward a lot and aided the attack well. Had an important role in Walcott’s goal.
Toure – 8 Had a good game and won most of the tackles that came his way.
Silvestre – 8 Best defender on the night. Great in the air and tackled and held the ball very well.
Gibbs – 7 Didn’t look back after his mistakes against Wigan at the weekend and will be proud of his performance. Went forward to assist in attack and was always up to the task when challenged by the Villarreal wingers.
Walcott – 8 (MotM) Gave the Villarreal defenders a lot to deal with with his pace and constant running at the defence and also earned a penalty. Had a magical goal reminiscent of one his predecessor in the #14 kit would score.
Song – 8 Did well against Pires and was responsible for making sure the defence didn’t have much to do. Significantly better performance than in the first leg.
Fabregas – 7 Made some great passes and did well from a deeper role.
Nasri – 6 Was quiet but didn’t do much wrong. I still don’t see him as a natural winger.
van Persie – 8 Had a good game, bagging a goal and an assist on the night. Will be entirely pleased with his performance.
Adebayor – 7 Caused problems for the Villarreal backline and was a constant threat to goal. One of those nights you knew he would get on the scoresheet. He needs to stop finding himself in offside positions though.
Denilson – 6 Didn’t have much to do as he came on after the match was wrapped up and Arsenal began coasting.
Diaby – 6 Same as above.
Bendtner – 6 Same as above.
And that’s enough from me today. Thanks for reading. Be sure to check out our forums at www.arsenalaction.com