Johan Djourou is out as Arsene Wenger confirms rotation against Leyton Orient

February 17, 2011

With the job half done at the Emirates last night, it’s time now to move onto the domestic challenges. Arsenal is to face Leyton Orient in the FA Cup 5th round on Sunday as Arsene Wenger gave the latest update on the squad today.

The Manager, while speaking to Arsenal TV online, revealed that Johan Djourou injured his back in the match against Barcelona and confirmed his exclusion from the game on Sunday. Wenger also informed about Walcott’s hamstring concern but added that he is expected to recover from it.

While Marouane Chamakh and Sagna, who returns after his suspension, are back in the squad, Diaby is going to miss the game through suspension as Wenger further added that the rest of the squad will be assessed slowly.

With three games in nine days to come, Wenger also confirmed that there will be rotation on Sunday.

Wenger, ahead of the FA Cup match, said:

“Djourou has a back problem. He is the one who certainly will not play on Sunday. We have a little concern about Walcott’s hamstring but it should be alright.

All the others are smaller things I will assess slowly. Sagna is back from suspension but Abou Diaby is still suspended. Marouane Chamakh will be back in the group.

There will be some rotation. We will see what I do. We play Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday again.  But I have shown in many competitions that I have the same belief in every player.”

Arsene Wenger on Song’s gamble and performance of Wilshere, Koscielny and Nasri

February 17, 2011

Arsene Wenger was clearly delighted after his team came back from a goal down to beat Barcelona at the Emirates last night.

Van Persie and Arshavin scored two important goals in a space of five minutes in the second half that changed the game. However, Wenger took a big gamble, when Arsenal were still trailing, in bringing on Arshavin for Song, who was holding the midfield.

Speaking after the game, the manager explained how his gamble worked when he replaced Song with Arshavin in order to go for it but admitted that it could have backfired.

Wenger was also full of praise for Wilshere and Koscielny after the game. Wilshere and Koscielny both played a major role in the comeback of Arsenal as Wilshere was excellent in the middle of the park and Koscielny took care of the proceedings at the back.

Speaking about Wilshere’s performance, the manger admitted that he was outstanding and said that how being unfazed by the occasion helped the young English man to perform well.

As for Koscielny, Wenger said that he is improving with every game as he was also outstanding last night.

When asked about Nasri’s return, Wenger said that how after a slow start he became stronger as the time passed and never looked like a player returning from injury.

Samir Nasri provided the final ball to Arshavin that led to the winner in the 83rd minute.

Wenger, after the game, said:

It was a mixture of the yellow card [he received] and because I wanted to go for it. We finished with Wilshere, Fabregas, Nasri, Bendtner and Van Persie – we needed to score two goals. We took a gamble and it could have backfired and we could have lost 2-0 or 3-0 to them. It worked.

[Jack Wilshere] was outstanding tonight. He was not fazed by the occasion in difficult periods. He took the ball and got out of the pressure. For me, [Laurent Koscielny] was outstanding. He is improving. [Samir Nasri] became stronger and stronger. He did not look like a player who has not played for such a long time. He started hesitantly and became more confident.

Player Ratings: Arsenal 2 – 1 Barcelona

February 17, 2011

The joy of wining last night was out of this world; it was an amazing feeling as we did what most have failed to do, beating Barcelona at their game.

The belief, determination, spirit, effort and brilliant team work were the key to this result. We never looked awed by their good play and possession in the first half and continued with our game plan in the second half which eventually worked in our favor.

While Barcelona were mesmerizing as usual, we weren’t behind. We defended, we pressed, we passed, we created and we finally scored. The defence was amazing as they bravely played a high line and played the offside trap really well. Once we were caught up which led to a goal but you can expect that with Barcelona playing so well. Overall it was a phenomenal performance.

Coming to the player ratings:

Szczesny (8.5): Confident and brilliant as he made a couple of excellent saves that kept us in the game. His decision making along with distribution was excellent. Cannot be faulted for the goal.

Eboue (7): Defensively did well throughout the match. Upfront wasn’t that good in the first half as he was losing the ball very cheaply and falling over time and again. Improved his game in the second half and made some good runs.

Koscielny (9.5): He was just magnificent. He was strong, quick and intelligent in his play. Made his usual important interceptions and tackles and I don’t remember he did anything wrong. Didn’t give space to any of the Barcelona players. Was early to every ball and covered up well for Clichy and Djourou. Simply phenomenal!!

Djourou (7.5): He too was excellent but made some errors by misplacing some of his passes but thankfully we weren’t punished for it. Otherwise he was solid and partnered well with Koscielny. Covered up well for Eboue.

Clichy: He was decent at the back but the Barcelona players exploited his flank throughout match. Was caught on the wrong side of the offside-line as Villa scored the opener. Made some important interceptions in the second half as he did well to cope with the situation. His pass to Van Persie that led to the equalizer was perfect.

Wilshere (9.5): Wilshere has certainly grown in the last couple of weeks. Last Night he was magnificently outstanding (if it makes sense). The way he dueled in the middle of the park with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets was amazing. He didn’t look intimidated by any of them as he played his game, looked confident, showed good work rate and linked up the play brilliantly. He also did well in breaking the play of Barcelona.

Fabregas (7.5): He wasn’t at his best yesterday yet he produced some amazing balls. His through ball that led to the second goal and his pass to Van Persie in the opening minutes was a delight to watch.  Combined really well with Wilshere, Nasri and Van Persie.

Song (7): He got booked early on in the game but still didn’t stay back and played his game. His work rate was good as he broke up Barcelona’s  play many times and distributed the ball around nicely.

Walcott (7.5): A continuous threat on the right as Barcelona players would always surround him whenever he would get the ball.

Van Persie (8.5): That goal he scored was one of its kinds. Forget that he missed a couple of good chances as he got the goal at the right time which matters the most. His movement was excellent and did his defensive duties well.

Nasri (8): His start was slow as he was returning from injury. Yet he was a threat and in the second half he was excellent. The way he coolly created the goal for Arshavin was impressive. His passing and movement was excellent and did his part in defense by helping Clichy on the right flank.


Arshavin (8): He is getting back to his best as he made that goal look so simple. Looked confident and helped in defending when required. He made a mistake near the end but again thankfully we weren’t punished for it.

Bendtner (7): Did his job and looked good. He just needs to be quick in making his decisions.

To conclude, the whole team deserves a standing ovation for their efforts. And let’s continue with what we did last night in all the other competitions we are in. The second leg can wait for now….just enjoy this moment!!