Arsenal 3-0 Villarreal: Into the semi-finals we march

Arsenal 3-0 Villarreal: Into the semi-finals we march

The four dancers celebrate Adebayor's goalIt is my personal opinion that the back five of Manuel Almunia, Bacary Sagna, Johan Djourou, William Gallas and Gael Clichy is the best that the current Arsenal squad possesses. That none of those five played against Villarreal and we still managed a 3-0 victory at home and subsequent qualification to the semi-finals of the Champions League for only the second time in our history is nothing short of remarkable.

Three-to-nothing wins at this level generally indicate quality performances across the team and that is exactly what Arsenal produced last night. Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie may have got the goals but the trio were ably supported by Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song in the middle and Samir Nasri on the left. Down back a severely under-strength defence featuring Emmanuel Eboue, Mikael Silvestre and Kieran Gibbs and lead by Kolo Toure never seriously looked like being breached.

Most Arsenal supporters would have been hoping for a positive start and that’s exactly what we got when Walcott produced a Carlos Vela-like finish in the 10th minute to open the scoring. Just quite where he got the confidence to finish with such a flourish we’ll never know but his clipped effort gave the team the reward they deserved after taking the game to Villarreal in the opening period of the half.

The goal visibly relaxed the side and we played the ball around beautifully for most of the first half. Song was having a storming game in the middle, allowing Fabregas to wreak havoc with his passing while Adebayor’s strength and pace was causing the Villarreal defence all sorts of problems. Meanwhile down back, Silvestre and Toure were working well and Eboue was forming a nice little partnership on the right with Walcott, our best player by a country mile in the opening half.

We perhaps could have scored twice more before the break but Adebayor fluffed a couple of chances and Villarreal captain Gonzalo Rodriguez, who otherwise had a shocker of a night, cleared off the line. Meanwhile all Villarreal had to show for their efforts were a tame free-kick from Mati Fernandez and an over-the-bar header by Diego Godin before the referee blew half-time.

Villarreal had their best period of the game shortly after the break as they maintained a healthy share of possession and moved the ball around quite well. Their tactics seemed to be to try and catch Silvestre out by feeding through-balls to the speedy Guiseppe Rossi. However this was completely foiled as Lukasz Fabianski played a virtual sweeper role to race out and intercept these passes on countless occasions. He might have had to make many saves last night, Fabianski, but his willingness to command his area created a huge hurdle for Villarreal to overcome.

Just as Villarreal were getting into the game we killed it off with a well-taken second goal as van Persie fed Adebayor and he fired home from the left with the outside of his boot. A typical Arsenal goal in many ways, from van Persie’s dance on the edge of the area to Adebayor, Eboue, Song and Silvestre’s dance at the corner flag. Even Wenger got involved.

From that point on the game was ours as Villarreal’s challenge unravelled. Van Persie added a third from the penalty-spot shortly after, allowing us to bring on some fresh legs and coast for the final twenty minutes.

It’s something of a side note but it will be interesting to see just how much impact our ability to switch off mentally and physically has on our next game. Chelsea were forced to fight right to the end in their draw with Liverpool and our more comfortable victory might just give us a little more freshness come Saturday.

So 3-0 it ended, 4-1 on aggregate and we play Manchester United in the semi-finals. I’ll talk more about that contest at a later date but in the meantime I think it’s important to enjoy the success of the team and the club before we think about the next step. To be in the semi-final of the Champions League for only the second time in our history is a huge result and the young players and the manager should be given full credit for what they’ve achieved so far.

A quick word before I go on two of the players who I thought deserve special mention for last night’s win; Alex Song and Mikael Silvestre. It might have been the strikers and Walcott who stole the show going forward but Song and Silvestre were the main reasons we looked so solid defensively. Song showed again what a tiger in the midfield he is becoming while Silvestre made a number of crunching tackles and clever interceptions throughout the match. It was wonderful to watch and if the pair can keep it up then our chances of getting silverware will certainly improve.

And that’s all I want to say. Enjoy yourselves.

Have your say on Arsenal’s excellent win over Villarreal by leaving a comment.

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25 Responses to “Arsenal 3-0 Villarreal: Into the semi-finals we march”

  1. Mexican Gunner
    April 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

  2. Mexican Gunner
    April 16, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    OMG I can post again !!!!

    Well, for me Song was the best of the team and Gibbs was so much better than last weekend.

  3. enemyairships
    April 16, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH!

    Watching this match with a Spurs fan who had bought a Villareal shirt (actually the same one from a couple of years ago) just for these type of occasions made the result all the more sweet! I’m not going to get too carried away given that Villa didn’t really have any danger players left, but I’m definitely looking forward to our next match.

    Chelsea are leaking goals at the moment. I hope we can get a couple of players back in defence by that time, despite the clean sheet. Here’s hoping Gibbs is all right after his knock, or else we might be sticking Gunnersaurus in at left back.

  4. paris
    April 16, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    great game and fantastic result.disposed easily of a team that man utd couldnt score once gain in 4 games in the CL!all in all it was a solid performance with only silvestre looking suspect.i just hope he doesnt have to play too much cos in all honesty he isnt a great player and i fear he could cost us at some point.really impressed with gibbs last night.had concerns for us when i saw the back 4 but gibbs turned in a very accomplished performance and eboue did what he does best, drive forward from deep and offered excellent support to walcott.special mention to song who was brilliant last night.he seemed to have much more urgency to his game.i just hope he can maintain it.ade took his goal really well and thankfully i can laugh about it now but ive never known a striker be offside as much as him!learn the rules!!!!!!hoped we might see dudu last night but if he’s fit i think he’s gonna be a big player for us before the seasn is done.this season could be the making of our young team……

  5. Gooner for life
    April 16, 2009 at 8:03 pm #

    In my opinion Song was the man of the match. He had a faultless performance. Hopefully he will be the guy who replaces Flamini (finally). I can’t watch Denilsomn anymore. He came on yesterday and passed the ball straight out of play. He needs to play for his position if you ask me. There is no threat of competition at the moment. Hopefully Song will be the guy who competes with him.

  6. paris
    April 16, 2009 at 8:04 pm #

    intresting read here: http://www.onlinegooner.com/exclusive/index.php?id=1086

  7. rilesh
    April 16, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    Arsene Knows and I repeat Arsene Knows, He said he wanted to be judged at the end of the season and all the scribes and know-it-alls laughed and wrote thick columns on the eulogy of the dead Arsenal. Not good enough, for fourth place they said, some even went as far as claiming not good enough for fifth. 17 games now on and I wish to see every writer who crucified Arsenal and Arsene Wenger write that this Arsenal team is not good enough. A team in the semi-finals of the Champions League and FA Cup, a team that hasn’t lost in 17 domestic outings. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

    Over the past few weeks can anyone point to a better holding midfield player in the world who can easily displace Alexander Song or Denilson. Thats one position and suddenly Arsenal has two good players there, add in a certain Mr Diaby and you have three competent players. Arsenal has six strikers, Eduardo, Adebayor, Vela, Van Persie, Bendtner,and Walcott reinforced by Nasri, Arshavin and Fabregas in the attacking third – that’s a very dangerous attack for me.

    I know we havent won anything but I am confident this team is capable of win something, it has the quality and ability and I am glad Arsene Wenger stuck by Song, Denilson, Vela, Walcott, Djourou. Gibbs, Bendtner and all the other youngsters.

  8. georgetown gooner
    April 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    was at the game and thought song was brilliant also eboue played well my only concern is the defence with the huge games coming up also did anyone see eguren slap cesc,s face as he walked off after his red card?hope weve got clichy and almunia back by the time we play manure in 2 weeks time.

  9. Naeem
    April 16, 2009 at 8:55 pm #

    did someone see Pelegrini fall off his seat ?

  10. JohnW
    April 16, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    Gibbs looked very good especially in the second half. In the first, he had some nerves. VR missed a great opportunity to pressure his wing since he was the rooky. However, I think we should use Edouado on Saturday to partner Ade and Andrey comes in for Nasri.

  11. Dally
    April 16, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    Great result last night, but Arsenal have some huge games coming up. If we are not playing one of the top 3 then we will be playing against teams fighting for their Premiership lives. Hopefully Sagna can shake of his illness for Saturday but Eboue is a very able replacement. I was kind of hoping that Porto would score an equaliser as I am sure we would have beaten them over the two legs, manure maybe a harder nut to crack. We need an away goal at old trafford just like against villarreal, that would put us in the driving seat. Could this be a re run of 2006, this time with Henry on the opposite team.

  12. butterfingers
    April 16, 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    I’ve always said eboue is a great 2nd choice rb crap rm and I’m going to eat my words as his play over the last 5 or so games has been awesome remember flamster was lb when we got to the cl final against barca and this could be a good omen for us but this time almunia won’t get sent off and we will win it yay. Chelscum will be interesting as song v’s essien will be fun to watch. Hope drogba catches the flu or something as he is 1 player that always seems to score against us.

  13. Gooner for life
    April 16, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    Eboue is a great bench player but he needs to have an end product. Yesterday he got into the final 3rd and looked lost. Once he got in the box and hoofed the ball to the fans on the other side of the pitch and tried to style it out by saying he was trying to cross the ball. He has skill for days (ask Capdevilla) and gets into great positions but he needs to gain some composure in the final 3rd.

  14. Alfred George, Jr.
    April 17, 2009 at 1:23 am #

    Now, I know from last night performances, the Gunners are elegible to proceed to the final and even win the Champion league title for the first time.

  15. Medeski
    April 17, 2009 at 2:30 am #

    What a turn around Song has made. Earlier this season I would have rather seen Ramsey or even Wilshere in the squad but over the past month or two Song has really grown up. He still has the occasional wayward pass but he no longer catches himself out of position after making rubbish attempted tackles in the forward third. And he has quite a knack for cheeky little heel passes and flicks as well.

    On to Chelsea – Arsenal got to shut it down at the end and get a little rest for some key players. Add to that a fully rested Arshavin, Eduardo and Sagna (assuming they’re passed fit) and I really like our chances. Now I just need to find someone to cover my shift at work so I can watch the game.

    Come on you Gunners! The silverware is getting so close I can smell it!

  16. Neilo
    April 17, 2009 at 2:42 am #

    It is just bloody brilliant. Dare we dream? Some turnaround this year. 2009 has been very good for Goooners and there is a real sense of confidence in the team. The underdog tag will suit us!

  17. Gibbs
    April 17, 2009 at 2:56 am #

    It never rains but pours for us. Gibbs and Sagna are doubts for saturday, that makes it 6 defenders lost in just a week, with chelski coming up. This really sucks, we are cursed. 🙁

  18. GetGunMN
    April 17, 2009 at 3:19 am #

    Does anyone know what site has better minute-by-minute text for Arsenal games? (That’s only what I can do at work during games) I have been following BBC’s and they seem to be obsessed with Ronaldo’s long range goal and ManU in general than what Arsenal’s youngsters are quitly accomplishing this season.

    And who the heck are these two commentators right before and after champions league games on Setanta? A greying old man and a fake haired one. They have a thing for Arsene and Arsenal could not do anything right in their eyes! If they are that good, may be they should coach their own little league teams.

  19. KissMyIrish*ss
    April 17, 2009 at 4:17 am #

    cant wait to meet the scum in the semis whoop whoop ! great result and a comfortable win for the boys tought it would of been tighter maself just shows the quality arsenal have ! weve a few hard matches commin up but lets just concintrate 4 chelsky at the weekend we played a day later so that miggh affect us on fittness

  20. jay-jay
    April 17, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    Im actually looking forward to the Chelsea game and thinking we can get to the FINAL of the FA Cup and Im so hoping Everton beat United. Walcott was star man, we all know he is a threat but he looked like one of the most deadliest players in the world last night, he was amazing.

  21. butterfingers
    April 17, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    I want to beat manure in both cups knocking them out and beating them on our last game away in the epl and luckypool winning the title and watch ol red nose loose the plot sell all of the big stars and quit haha. In arsne we trust!!!!!!!!

  22. MoMONEY
    April 17, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

    @ butterfingers

    the prospect of doing that is pretty much what makes my heart beat these days…

  23. MoMONEY
    April 17, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Now that we are looking great I really dont see many holes that need to be filled in the offseason… Lol this is why Wenger is in charge and we are not. I think someone like Mamadou Sakho, PSG captain, could be a good addition at CB… I dont see Ade leaving now though some may still want it… Wenger has played everything perfectly, dealt with the critics, and is hopefully going to lead us to some success

  24. Jammathon
    April 17, 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    Hey Spanish Fry! Is the Brisbane Supporters club going down to P&W for the FA Cup Semi final? My decision to head down to Eagle street depends largely on their being a nice group of fellow Arsenal-ites to sing along with…

    Drop me an email to let me know!
    Cheers
    -J.

  25. Spanish Fry
    April 17, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    @ Jammathon – I think it’ll probably be a bit too late on Saturday night. 2.15am kick-off isn’t exactly ideal!

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