Hello and a very good day to you all.
First up today I just need to apologise for the lack of a decent post yesterday – as I mentioned briefly, I’m dealing with a fairly difficult personal situation at the moment. Unfortunately it may affect my ability to blog consistently over the next week or so and I just want to apologise in advance. I hope you can understand.
The big talking point over the past couple of days is of course Arsenal’s 1-0 Champions League win over Roma. Robin van Persie got the only goal from the penalty spot after being brought down by French defender Philippe Mexes. We then had numerous good chances to extend our first-leg lead – Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Eboue missed the best of them – but in the end one goal was all we had to show for a good effort.
In terms of tactics and team selections I felt the Arsene Wenger pretty much got things spot on. It was a little bit ironic that after speaking about the combination of Denilson and Alex Song a lot this week the manager turned to Abou Diaby to break up the partnership. The Frenchman replaced Song in the middle, forcing a reshuffle with Denilson playing more defensive and Diaby freed up in a more attacking role.
Wenger effectively went with a 4-5-1 formation with Diaby and Samir Nasri roaming in behind van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Eboue on the wings. Although the latter pair missed guilt-edge opportunities to improve on the 1-0 scoreline the system worked quite well and we looked more cohesive in attack than I’ve seen in any Premier League game for quite a while. The formation seems to work particularly well in Europe and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the manager go with something similar in the return leg.
In terms of performances there were a few standouts. Diaby was the best player on the park until his substitution midway through the second half, surging forward with powerful runs and causing mayhem with his dribbling. When you think that the Frenchman also had a wonderful game against Fenerbache I get the feeling that the slightly slower pace of the European game seems to suit him.
Other players who did well were the entire defence (five clean sheets in a row now), Denilson in the middle and Eboue out wide. Denilson was a stifling influence in the centre of the park and showed what he can do with a little more support in numbers while Eboue played with more gusto and less idiocy than I’ve seen in a long while. It was great to watch.
People will be ruing the fact that we only take a one-goal advantage with us to Italy but at the end of the day I think everyone would have taken the result before the match. Not conceding means that if we score in Rome the opposition will have to score three and given how effective we can be on the counter using this 4-5-1 formation I think we’ll probably get the goal we need. All in all it was a great performance, a satisfactory result and sets us up nicely to get into the quarter-finals.
With the likes of Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Juventus on the brink of elimination there’s a decent chance of us going a step further than last season and perhaps even making it into the final. A long way to go yet, for sure, but it’s an exciting prospect nonetheless, particularly given the frustrating nature of the season so far.
Finally before I go today I’ve got a pretty fun piece of news – Arseblogger has asked me to take part in the blogchat section of his very popular podcast, the Arsecast. I’ll have a link to it on the blog tomorrow but I’d encourage you to have a listen if only to hear how my Aussie accent clashes with his Irish one. It should be fun.
Have your say on Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Roma by leaving a comment.