Player Ratings: Leeds 1 – 3 Arsenal

January 20, 2011

This was yet another fine performance from Arsenal. A high tempo start, early goal, possession play and killing off the game when required.

The defending was quite good. At times Gibbs was caught out but others covered up well for him.

In the middle we passed the ball around well with pace and precision. The pressing and movement was also good.

Upfront, the goals that were scored were all brilliant, but still we need to be more clinical and convert what we create.

Coming to player ratings:

Szczesny (6.5): Didn’t have much to do, it was a stunning shot that led to the goal. Did well when called upon.

Sagna (8): Top class performance. Our right side was rock solid. Scored an awesome goal and provided good support in attack on the right.

Djourou (7.5): No mistakes today. A solid and disciplined performance. Aerially dominant as well.

Koscielny (7.5): Same as Djourou. Good solid defending. Was again quick to close down the Leeds players. He certainly plays well when around Djourou.

Gibbs (6.5): A decent performance. Good going forward but still needs improvement at the back. Made some good interceptions  though.

Song (7): Good work rate, good distribution of the ball and great in breaking down the Leeds play.

Denilson (6.5): Kept it simple and passed the ball around well. No ‘Denilson’ mistakes today. Some of his touches were quite good at times.

Nasri (8.5): Man of the match for me. He gave us a brilliant start and really carried the team well in the first half. His movement was good and opened up Leeds very easily. Cool finish on the first goal too.

Arshavin (5.5): He started brightly but then again lost his touch. Missed a simple tap in the first half and his shots on goal were way over at times.

Chamakh (6.5): Linked up play nicely, good work rate but again should have scored a goal.

Bendtner (6.5): His first touch was poor, missed a simple tap in and was anonymous at times. However, improved as the game progressed and delivered an inch perfect cross for Van Persie to score the third goal. Besides this made a couple of good runs and helped in defending.

Subs:

Fabregas (7) and Van Persie (7) were great when they came on. They increased the tempo of our game and made things happen. Fabregas started the move that led to our third goal that Van Persie scored. Clichy (no rating) had little time to make an impact.


Leeds 1 – 3 Arsenal: A positive performance, Nasri, Sagna and Van Persie scored great goals

January 19, 2011

That’s more like it. A job well done! A good,  positive performance by Arsenal as a determined Leeds side were beaten three goals to one.

Nasri in the 5th, Sagna in the 35th and Van Persie in the 76th minute scored great goals for us. Leeds got their solitary goal in the 37th minute through a stunning shot by Bradley Johnson.

For major parts we played really well. The first twenty five minutes of the second were a bit slow though but Fabregas and Van Persie upped our tempo when they came on. Leeds looked dangerous on a few occasions but overall it was a comfortable win.

And we are through to the fourth round to face Huddersfield Town.


Leeds vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

January 19, 2011

Wouldn’t it have been better if we had beaten Leeds at the Emirates and had an off day today? As it stands, we have to face Leeds at their home now to qualify for the fourth round of the FA Cup where Huddersfield Town awaits us.

I hope the lesson will be learnt from the last fixture that no team is going to be beaten unless you score goals and don’t concede at the back. Any team put out today will have to be both clinical and disciplined.

As far as the starting team is concerned, with games every three days, rotation is a must. So we will again see plenty of changes today.

With only Szczesny available of the three keepers, he is a sure starter. However, I am still thinking who will be on bench. And as Sagna is available after his suspension, so he will start at his favored place. On the left Gibbs will return to replace Clichy. As for the centre backs, it is a bit difficult to decide. Would Wenger risk Djourou? I doubt it. So I would go with Song and Koscielny.

In the middle, Rosicky is available so he will start after his rest and Denilson will partner him. In support, Wilshere is the best option.

Up front, Van Persie cannot be risked and Chamakh deserves a start along with Vela, who as yet hasn’t been loaned out. Bendtner doesn’t fit in well with Chamakh so I would go with Arshavin on the right side.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Song, Gibbs, Wilshere, Rosicky, Denilson, Arshavin, Chamakh, Vela.

If this team fails to score goals we can always bring on Van Persie, Walcott and Fabregas, who should all start on the bench.

I won’t go into how the game should be played. It’s a championship side and FA Cup will be a priority for them. They will be determined to get the result and they will have the confidence from the last fixture. We cannot at any time in the game switch off. If we stick to the way we played against West Ham we will be fine. The main thing however will be to score goals.

To conclude, I would say that this is one of the trophies that we can get this season and we cannot blow it. Today’s game shouldn’t be a problem but Arsenal can surprise you at times. I hope it’s not one of those days.

Keep your fingers crossed and enjoy the match.


Sagna returns, Diaby not far away and Szczesny will start against Leeds as Fabianski has a setback

January 17, 2011

Arsene Wenger gave the latest update on the squad ahead of the Leeds game while speaking to Arsenal TV online.

With Sagna returning from his three match suspension and no new injuries from the weekend’s game, Wenger said that things look alright. Wenger revealed that the situation hasn’t deteriorated as Ramsey is also available and Diaby is not far away from returning.

Regarding Diaby, Wenger said that he will be the first one to return from injury but Wigan and Ipswich games will be too early for him.

Fabianski is also out with his shoulder injury and with Almunia already out, Szczesny is the only keeper fit to start and Wenger said that he will remain in goal for the coming matches.

Regarding Fabianski, Wenger said that he has a setback and it will take time to recover. He will also be returning after the Ipswich game.

As for Squillaci, Wenger said that he could be available in two weeks.

Arsene Wenger said:

“We look alright. We have of course Ramsey available again and Diaby is not far away. So overall the situation has not deteriorated and we hope to get Diaby back soon.
 
Wigan will be too early [for Diaby], even I believe Ipswich will be too early, but the game after he should be available. He should be the first one who will be back.
 
We still have Fabianski out with a shoulder injury, we still have Almunia out and therefore Wojciech will continue to play.
 
Fabianski had a little setback, it doesn’t improve as quickly as we thought and like Diaby he will not be available for Wigan or Ipswich but after. Squillaci could be available in two weeks.”


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.

Thoughts

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.