Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Arsenal - Standard Liege: Full Time Thoughts and Player Ratings

Arsenal - Standard Liege (2-0)
Samir Nasri (35')
Denilson (45')

1. Importance of Denilson
Arsenal were back to their beautiful, free flowing football, a stark contrast to the boring, lifeless football that was exhibited three days ago. This game showed us how much we missed Denilson, the fact that he can play alongside Fabregas (unlike Ramsey) as an attacking midfielder or a defensive midfielder (when Song leaves for ACN) makes him even more crucial to the team. We missed his never-say-die attitude which is seldom seen in the cool and calm Ramsey or the over-cool-and-calm Diaby. Through this game, we see how Denilson can stay behind Fabregas (while staying ahead of Song) to control the tempo of the game (as he can pass well) while allowing Fabregas to roam forward to attack. In the same time, he could join Fabregas in attack or launch some long range shots (like what he did today). Also, he could act as a DM in an advanced position, trying to take back the ball with his grit and determination, and if that fails, Song will act as the second DM to do the job. Denilson's multiple abilities makes Arsenal gameplay more fluid and flexible. Just a pity that Wenger would most likely deploy him as DM when Song is gone. Even though he is best candidate for that position during that time, I also feel that for him to play beside Fabregas (like what he did today) really helps the fluency of Arsenal game.

2. Gibbs Injury?
Towards the final few minutes of the game, we see Gibbs clearly in an uncomfortable state. We have to wait for his injury status. Nevertheless, I believe Traore is more than capable of playing left-back, he just needs more playing time to gain fitness and confidence.

3. Arsenal's defensive lapse in the final period
It seems that Arsenal suddenly switched off in the final period of the game, allowing Standard Liege to linger aorund Arsenal's penalty area with the ball. We have already witnessed goals concended in the final period in recent games. Currently, this is not a worrying sign because Arsenal is scoring for fun. But when Arsenal is not scoring, this can be a major problem, as we have already tasted it at Sunderland three days ago.

4. Vela, Vela
As I mentioned in the first half thoughts, I felt that Vela was very quiet. However, he became quieter in the second half! He seemed very tame and insignificant throughout the game, and was clearly overshadowed by the better attacking players, i.e. Nasri and Arshavin. Still only capable of performing in domestic cup competitions? I don't know.

Player Ratings:
Almunia: 6
Nothing much to deal with. He had the goal post to thank for his clean sheet.

Eboue: 8
Not much defensive duties to perform today, but he was really good and confident going forward. As mentioned previously, he does his best to dribble past players. Nevertheless, he still falls too easily.

Gallas and Vermaelen: 6
Not much to deal with. At their usual selves.

Gibbs: 7
Good to see him back. Was mobile and quick. Would be a pity to lose him to injury again.

Song: 9 (MOTM)
Immaculate performance. He was working industriously throughout the game, intercepting passes and tackling well. His presence is an assurance to the back four. Even tried to curve a shot at the last moments. Not sure how we will cope without him in January.

Denilson: 8
Did well. As mentioned earlier, his presence makes the game more flexible and allowed Fabregas to roam foward more frequently.

Fabregas: 8
At his usual self.

Nasri: 8
Did not see much of the ball if compared to the rest. But when he did, it ended up at the back of the net. A decent performance.

Vela: 6
Very quiet throughout the game.

Arshavin: 8.5
Was very agile and dangerous throughout the game, especially in the second half. Link-up play was excellent. A very important deciding factor for the next game against Chelsea.

Silvestre: 6
OK performance.

Walcott: 6
Still looked rusty with his usual mistakes, banging in players and running ahead of the ball. He needs to be more versatile and not purely rely on pace alone.

Rosicky: 7
Really has quick feet and an eye for passes. A valuable asset to the team.

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