Player Ratings: Arsenal 1 – 1 Leeds

January 8, 2011

The overall performance of the team was not up to what we have displayed in the last two games. Our passing and movement was slow and we weren’t decisive enough. We still had plenty of possession but it was of no use as Leeds easily defended whatever we created. We improved greatly when Fabregas and Walcott were brought on though.

The defence was not bad but there were few occasions where we were caught sleeping. Djourou clearly was a beast there and Szczesny was excellent.

In the middle, we did create a lot of chances but the passing tempo was slow.

While upfront, no one really made an impact despite presented with lots of chances. Walcott was the one who made the real difference.

Coming to player ratings:

Szczesny (7.5): Great keeping. Kept us in the game when it was level and also when we were a goal down. Nearly saved the penalty and overall good decision making from him.

Eboue (7): He was a constant threat while going forward. At times however was caught out of position at the back. Some of his crosses were really good.

Squillaci (5.5): Not impressed by his outing today. He should be the one with experience and confidence and today he himself looked short of both. Some of his decisions were poor.

Djourou (9): This man impresses every game. We would have lost today if not for him and Szczesny at the back. Reads the game really well and was always present at the right place at the right time. Made some vital interceptions and clearances.Was strong in the air and on the ground. Top performance!!

Gibbs (6.5): A good game by him while returning from an injury. Some of his runs and crosses were good.

Song (6): Looked unimpressed by the proceedings. Still did most of the things correctly.

Rosicky (6.5): He started very brightly and helped our game flow. His movement and touches were good however lost it in the later parts and was rightly substituted. He also gave away the ball at the wrong place on a few occasions.

Denilson (5): I don’t know what to say on him. Some of his shots were great as they tested the keeper. However, he just doesn’t have pace and strength. Gave away a silly penalty too.

Arshavin (5): I am at a loss as to what has happened to him. He is a genius, a master in his game if he plays, sadly most of the times he doesn’t. Nothing went right for the Russian today as he did try on a few occasions. On others he simply didn’t. Should have scored the opener on Rosicky’s lobbed pass. However, showed good technique on a few shots.

Chamakh (4): Another bad performance from him. IMO he is feeling the rigors of the Premier League.

Bendtner(6): Started the game well but went onto miss plenty of chances. Landed most of his headers over the bar.

Subs: Fabregas (8.5) changed the game when he came on. His presence increased the momentum of our passing and we looked more of a threat. Great composure while taking the penalty. Walcott (8) also made a big impact when he came on. Made some good runs and used his pace well. Still should have scored at the end when he shot the ball straight to the keeper. Vela (no rating) had very less time to make impact.

I will conclude by saying that we have to put this behind for now and look ahead to our next game. We still have a chance to qualify for the next round and hopefully when we face Leeds at their home we will get the job done.

Arsene Wenger reflecting on the game and still being in the FA Cup

January 8, 2011

Fourteen years of history was about to change had we lost today. However, Fabregas scored a late penalty against Leeds to keep Arsenal in the FA Cup.

Speaking after the match, Wenger praised the way Leeds approached the game saying that they played well and were up for it and they made it a very difficult Cup game. Wenger said that it was a type of match where it was important not to go a goal down.  

However, after going a goal down, Wenger said it was Szczesny who kept them in it. Szczesny made a brilliant save in the second half which if had gone in would have been game over for Arsenal.

Wenger admitted that it would have been a shocker had we lost and it was necessary for the momentum to not go out today. Time was the major concern for Wenger as Arsenal looked likely to equalize.

However, after scoring the equalizer, Arsenal would have gone on to win the game had one of the three chances been converted in stoppage time. Wenger isn’t concerned yet though as he said that atleast they are still in the Cup and hopes that Arsenal will get the result at Leeds.

Wenger said:

“I must say at first that it was a very difficult game because it was a real Cup game and Leeds were up for it, they played well. It was the kind of game where you felt that it was important not to go 1-0 down. When we were 1-0 down I felt that Wojciech kept us in the game with a good save on the header [from Becchio]. We looked like we would come back but we were short of time and it was important to keep the momentum and not to go out today because that would have been a shocker.

Even when we equalised we still had three chances at 1-1 but we couldn’t take them. At least we are still in the Cup and hopefully we can do it at Leeds.”

Arsenal 1 – 1 Leeds report: Should we be dissapointed or relieved?!!

January 8, 2011

I am dissapointed because we would have easily won this if we had taken our chances and yet I am relieved that we are still in it.

The way we started and had we been a little clinical in front of goal, this game would have been easily over in the first half despite us not really dominating the game.

Arshavin had the first chance to score from when he was through on goal, the ball provided by Rosicky. The keeper, however blocked his shot. It was followed by another stinging shot from Arshavin which was again stopped by the keeper. This was followed by three goal line clearance by Leeds in a space of only minutes. A minute later Denilson tested the keeper from range. Besides this we were looking dangerous on the set pieces. Bendtner was creating space for himself and taking shots. The goal looked imminent!!

At the other end Leeds had their chances to score. However, we went into the break with the scores leveled and the game for anyone to take.

We started the second half well. There was some good pressure, but somehow, we weren’t getting the end product. In the final third we were very wasteful. Leeds on the other hand got their breakthrough when Max Gradel was brought down by Denilson in the goal area. A simple penalty and Robert Snodgrass stood up to take it. Szczesny judged the direction but still could not stop it as Leeds took the lead in the 54th minute.

Wenger brought on Fabregas for Song, and we started pushing forward again. Walcott was brought on for Chamakh. We were still going forward and building up nicely but in the final third we were very poor. On the occasions where we got the shots on target, the keeper would save it. Time elapsed as we searched for the goal. Vela was brought on for Rosicky and we still searched for the goal as it grew really frustrating.  Leeds in between would get their chances to finish the game off but Djourou did well on plenty of occasions to deny them.

The 90th minute was nearing when it appeared that the ref had given a penalty to us. However, in all the confusion it wasn’t as it was just an offside. I thought that this was the end. However, Walcott was held back in the final minute of the 90 when through on goal and this time the ref pointed to the spot. Fabregas stepped up to take it and nailed it. We were leveled and it was just over 90 minutes.

We still would have gone on to win from here had we taken the numerous chances in the stoppage time that we got. Leeds keeper, Schmeichel, still had time to make a brilliant save from Denilson’s long range shot. However, with Bendtner missing a couple of chances along with Walcott the game ended with scores level.


Well we are still in the cup and that counts. However, we need to score goals. These last two games have shown that if you do not score you can easily lose or drop points despite dominating proceedings.

I don’t know what to say of our attack. In simple word, we missed a lot of chances and were overall very poor upfront. Some credit by the way also goes to the Leeds defence and their keeper becuase they were excellent.

However, we need to be decisive in the final third. We were very wasteful today and some of the decisions upfront were just bad.

We have to play one extra fixture now, but we can handle it with our squad strength. However, if we are playing this extra game, we would need to be more clinical than we were today and make it count. It will do us no good that we play an extra match and still go down.

Wenger: Nasri’s contract will be finalized in summers, Rules out signing Eden Hazard in January

January 8, 2011

For a couple of days now there has been news floating around that Nasri was going to pen down a new deal extending his contract. His current contract ends in 2012.

Well the reports are true in a sense but the contract will be finalized at the end of the season.

Wenger is, however, confident in the extension of Nasri’s contract, as he said that Nasri’s agent has already been approached and the process will be completed in the summers.

The reason for delay, Wenger, gave was the main focus being on the competitions at the moment. And he further added that there is one year still left in his current contract expiry.

Wenger regarding Nasri’s contract said:

“We’ll sort that out during the summer. We have met his agent already but we’ll finish the job in the summer.

[At the moment] we focus on the competition. Anyway, there is still one year to go [on Nasri’s contract] in the summer.

You can reproach me that I’m always confident.”

Wenger has also completely ruled out the signing of Eden Hazard from Lille in January. Eden Hazard has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal these past few weeks. The player himself came out saying that he would love to play for Arsenal as young players are encouraged there.  

Arsene, however, has ruled it out by saying that the offensive department already has many players. He added that players like JET and Vela are not finding first team action and are being loaned out due to the same reasons.

However, Wenger didn’t rule out signing him ever. He said that it will depend on the situation at the end of the season.

Wenger regarding Hazard said:

“In the offensive department we have many players. If I give Carlos Vela and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas out on loan it is because we have what it takes.

At the end of the season we’ll have a look at the situation but at the moment it’s completely ruled out.”