By Rachid Parchment
Where do I even begin? What a match! What a performance from Arshavin! While watching this match I was talking with a Scouser friend of mine via MSN and I was reminded of that fact that last January when we were looking to sign Arshavin he told me that he thought he’d never cut it in England and that he’s overrated as he only burst unto the scene at age 27 and it just means he’s not good enough. That guy has a colic right now from eating so much humble pie!
There’s just so much to say about this match so here I go:
When we got started we were put under pressure very early on as Torres wanted to get unto the scoresheet as early as possible. He was being kept at bay very well by Kolo Toure though and also by a number of good saves from Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. All that pressure seemed to come to naught as in the 36th minute a good link up play between Nasri and Fabregas saw the Spaniard beat the offside trap to pass the ball back across the box to the waiting Arshavin who hit a one timer which went into the net after ricocheting off the crossbar. Arsenal held their lead going into the half time break.
While there were goals galore in the 2nd half the defending left a lot to be desired. In the 49th minute a poor clearance from Bacary Sagna made it’s way to Dirk Kuyt on the left hand side of the Arsenal defence and his cross found the head of Fernando Torres who was poorly marked by Sagna. Torres’ header beat Fabianski to give the Scousers their first equaliser.
They would take the lead just 7 minutes later when a lazy backpass from Silvestre was poorly cleared out by Fabianski and was collected by Kuyt after Gibbs received it and tried to clear it further upfield. Gibbs was then caught out by Kuyt who whipped in a cross to the backpost which found Yossi Benayoun. Sagna went in with a high challenge to clear the ball and only got Benayoun’s head instead. The Israeli however met the ball with his head and Fabianski cleared the ball but he did so from behind the goal line and referee Howard Webb ruled it a goal.
The next goal to follow was in the 67th minute and it was quite a memorable finish. Jamie Carragher passed to Alvaro Arbeloa but his hesitation to collect the ball saw Andrey Arshavin easily dispossess him and fired a scorcher from about 20 yards out which gave Pepe Reina no chance to save it as it bobbed and weaved around him and into the far corner of the net. The score now 2-2 and Arshavin on a hat trick.
It took him only 3 minutes to complete his hat trick as in the 70th minute Samir Nasri had a good build up with Arshavin and after passing off to the Russian, the French man went down the left side to receive a return pass from Arshavin. He played a cross into the box and Fabio Aurelio’s poor clearance went right into the path of Arshavin who tucked it right under Reina to bag a hat trick and ensure that he’d be taking home the match ball.
The lead lasted only 2 minutes though. In the 72nd minute Alberto Riera crossed into the box for Torres who received the ball with his back to goal. Torres was allowed by Silvestre, who hardly put in a tackle out of sheer laziness, to turn and fire past Fabianski into the far corner and take the score to 3-3. When you look at the replay perhaps you could say Fabianski could have done better, but definitely Silvestre is to take a lot of blame for that, but I’ll get back to him later.
In the 89th minute a Cesspool corner kick was cleared out of the Arsenal area and found Theo Walcott who made a quick dart up the pitch reminiscent of the one he made at the same venue last season in the Champions League quarter finals to set up Emmanuel Adebayor for his goal. He saw Arshavin going up the middle of the park unchallenged and slipped a great pass through to him. It was now Pepe Reina standing in the way of Arshavin collecting his 4th goal of the night but the Spanish goal keeper could only stand as helpless as a deer in headlights as Arshavin had no trouble putting the ball beyond him and into the net to give Arsenal a 4-3 lead with just a minute to go before stoppage time.
You would’ve thought we’d go on to win the game but for a moment of sheer annoyance in stoppage time. In the 92nd minute the ball was played across the box and flicked goalward by Javier Mascherano from down the left hand side of the Arsenal defence. It came to Ryan Babel who got a touch but couldn’t get it unto goal and then it bobbled back to Yossi Benayoun who fired through a crowded box into the net beyond Lukasz Fabianski who didn’t seem to know too much about it. And so it ended, 4-4 at full time.
To see all the goals (and to polish up on your German) click here.
At the end the same guy I was talking to on MSN had the nerve to say to me that we should be ashamed that we took only 4 shots on goal and had 4 goals. While that was true that we had only 4 shots on target (8 shots in total) what does it say for his defence then if they made no saves all night? Doesn’t it mean their defence is complete and utter crap? This especially after conceding 4 goals in their previous match, which was exactly 7 days before. That meaning they had more time to rest and prepare for this match while we played on the Wednesday, Saturday and yesterday. This is one of the reasons I can’t stand that club….their fans. They truly are disgusting and I’m happy Arshavin put such a dent in their title bid last night. Them and their fat cunt of a manager are utterly disgusting.
Anyway, unto more thoughts about the game…
Silvestre was one of our poorer performers last night. He is (on paper) the most experienced player available for Arsenal at the moment. You would’ve expected him to show more protection for his less experienced teammates in the Arsenal defence but his performances lately have been lazy and complacent. He has shown that he’s definitely not good enough for this club and hopefully one of the newly promoted teams to the Premiership will come to us for him in the summer.
While I defended Fabianski for coming off his line in an attempt to stop the second goal in last Saturday’s FA Cup Semi Final [exasperated sigh] with Chelsea I have to say his goalkeeping was a bit poor last night. He seemed to come off his line a bit too much for my liking. I remember once in the first half Cesspool had a corner and I noticed he was standing on or at least very close to the edge of the 6 yard box at the moment the corner was being taken. I don’t know why he’s so afraid of the goal line though. Maybe that evil monkey from Family Guy was standing there point at him or something…I really don’t know. The fact that Kieran Gibbs had to make his third goal line clearance from his fourth game is testament to the fact that Fabianski has positioning issues and doesn’t command his area properly. I’m releaved to know that Almunia will be back this Saturday against Middlesbrough. That’s not to say I think Fabianski is rubbish but I think he has proven he can be a liability to us at this crucial stage of the season and I’d rather him get his experience from less meaningful games such as the Carling Cup and Fa Cup games next season. I’ve said a lot this season that Almunia hasn’t done a lot wrong for us and is proving himself to be a good goalkeeper and I find it funny that a lot of the people that have criticised him are now anxiously awaiting his return to the first team. It’s like they say: “You never miss the water ’til the well runs dry”.
I have to wonder though if Fabianski is suffering from confidence issues. I remember when he just signed for us and at various points throughout last season and even earlier this season as well he said he wants to show that he’s willing to put up a fight for the #1 kit. Do you think it’s possible that he’s trying too hard to impress Wenger and the fans and it’s leading him to make errors?It would probably explain why he comes off his line so much, even for balls he doesn’t need to attempt to play.
Cesc concerns me too. I’ve noticed since his return it seems as though he’s a bit confused about whether he should be playing an attacking role or a deeper defensive role. It seems Wenger’s confused as well. Cesc’s performances haven’t been the same as of late and he seems to go in and out of games a bit. I’m a big fan of his and I hope he can rediscover the form that helped him to earn the captain’s armband last November. Players usually go through slumps at various periods of their careers though and the better ones usually bounce back with ease. Fabregas is no doubt a quality player and I know he’ll be back to his best. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later as we still have Champions League aspirations and Cesc at his best is certainly a player who can drive this Arsenal team towards the Champions League title.
You have to feel for Arshavin though. It’s just a shame that he gives us such a performance and 4 goals and we still didn’t win. It’s all because of careless defending. We were as loose at the back last night as an old porn star. I hope with Almunia coming back into the squad for the next match it will change the shape of our performances and we won’t concede as many stupid goals as we have lately. Before the injury crisis we faced this month we only conceded 8 goals this year. That was on average 2 goals a month. That was a pretty good defensive statistic and with us now into the most crucial part of the season we need all hands on deck and more focus from our defenders. We simply cannot afford to let in another four goals, especially in the manner which we did last night.
Time for the player ratings:
Fabianski – 4 Had some good saves in the first half but irritating to see him coming off his line so much when many times it was better for him to stay there.
Sagna – 5 Unusually poor showing from him but it was due to him lacking match fitness.
Toure – 6 Good first half. Not good enough in the second.
Silvestre – 4 Should be taken out back. Absolutely rubbish. Makes me anxious for Djourou to return.
Gibbs – 7 Got caught out on a couple occasions but overall had a good game. Great clearance off the line from a corner too.
Song – 7 Made some good tackles, especially in the first half. Should be pleased with his performance last night.
Denilson – 5 Must be a magician because he keeps disappearing from games and did just the same last night.
Fabregas – 6 Could have contributed a little more. Worked well with Nasri to create Arshavin’s first goal.
Nasri – 8 Much better player on the right hand side than the left. Very active and provided great passes until he was subbed.
Arshavin – 1,000,000 (MoM) What can I say?! Nothing short of extraordinary and Wenger must feel like a right muppet for not giving him more playing time against Chelsea.
Bendtner – 6 Never made an impact on the game.
Walcott – 8 Did well when brought on. Great run and assist to provide Arshavin with his 4th goal. Needed more support in the box to meet his crosses though.
Diaby – 5 Absolutely rubbish. Came on and added nothing positive to the game. Created a controversial moment which saw the Scousers appealing for a hand ball and could’ve costed us the game.
And that’ll do it for today. Come join our forums at www.arsenalaction.com Ciao!