The result against Partizan is a massive one for us after the shock loss at the weekend. It wasn’t one of the amazing games but it had its moments. At times it was very evenly fought out in the midfield but for major parts we had the game under control with the keep ball.
Our start wasn’t good and Partizan took the initiative and had a few early chances with some good pressing by them. A few mistakes by the defence helped them in their cause. The hosts were very motivated and clearly wanted something from this game. At times they were physical too but nothing serious happened. The home crowd was awesome and the noise in the stadium was very loud for the whole match.
We survived the early onslaught of Partizan, we scored the first goal, we missed a few chances – or rather saved by the keeper, gave away a penalty – they equalized, got a penalty ourselves but missed it and in the process Partizan were reduced to 10 men, we took the lead again, we scored for the third time – this time from a corner, gave away another penalty – this time Fabianski saved it, and it ended with a very decent score line.
Coming to the positives from the match. First of all the contribution of Arshavin needs a special mention here. He was phenomenal last night, even though he missed a penalty. He clearly was the leader last night and everything that happened for Arsenal was through him. He was by far the most determined player and it was evident from his movement. He was running at the defenders, creating space and delivering the killer through balls. And he scored a goal too and if it was not for the keeper or some good goal line clearance he would have had 4 goals. A performance like this is required from him in every match.
Fabianski also deserves praise for his, in the words of Wenger, ‘faultless’ game. He saved a penalty, made a good reflex save late in the match, and was solid whenever called upon. He needed this performance for improving his confidence. As for the matter that he will become world class from here, that needs to be seen. I remain of the view that against Chelsea he should not keep. He still needs plenty of games to show us that he is the best.
The most important thing is that this win will have restored some of the confidence that got shattered against Albion.
There are some worrying signs too. The most important one is that we lose our focus as soon as we are a couple of goals ahead. Same happened last night, when we unnecessarily gave another penalty and near the end the whole defence was caught napping when Fabianski made the reflex save. If the penalty and that ball gone in, it would have been all square. We need to keep our focus till the time the final whistle is not blown.
Related to this we also don’t kill the competition when we go ahead. Last night we were denied by the keeper but still we tend to give away a goal whenever we are ahead or not getting goals. It has happened this season against Bolton and Blackburn, though we went onto win both the matches, against Sunderland, the match was drawn in the stoppage time, against West Brom, we lost the match.
The communication between the keeper and defenders was way off. Fortunately we weren’t punished for it.
Crossing the ball is still a problem for us. Some of our crosses don’t even clear the first defender. We need to address this issue because possession is always lost if the cross doesn’t reach its destination.
Coming to player ratings:
Fabianski: Good solid game for him. Did what was asked of him and had the confidence. 7.5
Sagna: Covered his flank well, was caught out of position a few times. Terrible at crossing, needs to correct it ASAP. 6.5
Squillaci: Slow slow start and his communication with the keeper wasn’t good. Settled down as the game progressed. Scored the goal that sealed the match. 7
Djourou: Started poorly, was caught out a few times, decision making wasn’t good, was not physical. Improved his performance in the 2nd half. Still a lot needs to be proved by him. 6
Gibbs: Had a good start and was solid at the back and average coming forward. Gave away an unnecessary late penalty. 6.5
Song: Poor, poor, poor. What has happened to him this season? Didn’t do his defensive duties, lost possession most of the times, his passing was not accurate either. He needs to raise his game. Otherwise he should be on the bench for the next game or else he is going to cost us. 3
Denilson: Another excellent game for him, except the stupid penalty that he conceded. Made a great tackle in the first half, remained close to the defenders and did his job nicely. 7
Wilshere: Had a great first half. Was always dangerous whenever he had the ball. Supported Arshavin and Chamakh nicely. His decision making is excellent and he is certainly improving. Disappeared in the second half though. 7.5
Rosicky: Was absent in the first 15 minutes, found his touch as the game progressed. Delivered an excellent cross for the second goal, one of the few people who knows how to cross the ball in the Arsenal team. 6.5
Chamakh: He looked tired but still worked hard. Scored a goal and won a penalty that led the defender to be dismissed. Came back to defend more than often. 7
Arshavin: MOTM. Excellent game for him. Enough said already. 8.5
Vela and Nasri: Good contributions by both of them when they came on. Vela made some good runs. Nasri delivered the corner from which Squillaci opened his Arsenal Account. 6.5
Clichy: Was on for a short while. No Rating
The win is very satisfying though some may argue that it wasn’t convincing . Still a win is a win and it will really help to improve the confidence. As for the next match there is still time to make amends that are necessary if we are to get a result in our favor on Sunday.