Match Day 4 saw plenty of Arsenal interest with a tasty early match up between Nicklas Bendtner’s Danish squad and the Oranje of Robin van Persie. Alex Song had the day off for Cameroon as they went down to a plucky Japan team in their opening Group Stage match.
Own Goal “Assist” Highlights van Persie’s Day
Frustration. That’s what I felt early on for Robin as, although the Dutch maintained much of the possession in the opening half of the match, there was little to express a real threat on the Danish goal. The quick passing and off-the-ball movement took awhile to get going for the Oranje, but was nicely on display just past the 20 minute mark as van Persie controlled at the top of the box against a clutter of Danes and fed van der Vaart for a left footed attempt on goal. Robin’s first sniff at the Danish goal came on 43 minutes with a trademark left-right-left series inside the box to shake off the defender and clear some space for a right-footed take just wide of the mark. Bit too fancy, perhaps, as his favored left foot might have been the better option. Just past the half Robin did set up the first goal of the match, albeit with an unintended assist. Beating both a defender and the Danish keeper to the ball on the left side of the box, Robin took possession and crossed beautifully into the box. The recipient wasn’t wearing Oranje, though, as Christian Bruce Poulsen took a Diaby-like header into the net for an own goal to give Netherlands the 1- nil lead. van Persie again was the fulcrum on 58 minutes as he turned with possession and deftly hit van der Vaart inside the box for a redirection that demanded a leaping save from the Danish keeper. As the match came to the closing quarter of an hour, Robin was substituted for Ibrahim Afellay. With the Danish side presenting a composed front to the dangerous Dutch attack, Robin’s opportunities for brilliance were limited. Still, some promising moments for the Arsenal front man, and hopefully more to come as the tournament progresses.
Big Nick Gets The Start
Nick, sporting a rather Canadian hockey player style mullet hairdo, recovered from his twangy hamstring problems to get the nod to start for the Danish side. Nick’s first significant touch came shortly before the half hour mark, with a free header at the left side of the box. He took it rather flat-footed as the cross seemed to float a bit and the attempt went wide. On 36 minutes Bendtner took a beautiful ball in the middle of the Dutch third and passed to a streaking Thomas Kahlenberg for a real tester on the Dutch keeper from the left side of the box. Heads up play from Nick to keep possession from the challenge and hit the open man. In fact, Nick had several nice possessions where he took it with back to the goal, made the nice turn and continued the play. Part of his maturation process, one hopes. Nick took leave of the pitch on 62 minutes, with fatigue setting in. Overall not a whole lot of highlights for him, but a workman like effort for the Arsenal striker coming off injury.
The Song Remains Unused
Unfortunately, Alex Song took his first 2010 Group Stage match on the bench for Cameroon in the mid-day loss against Japan. Lets hope the Song does not “remain the same” as Cameroon moves forward. I’m really looking forward to watching Alex gain valuable international experience that will further his development for Arsenal.
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I’ve promised Andy to leave out transfer talk unless we have a confirmation on movement from Arsenal.com, but I’d like to mention two Arsenal targets from today’s Netherlands-Denmark match. Gregory van der Wiel and Simon Kjaer both got the start for their respective sides and looked impressive. van der Wiel showed some real spark in supporting the Dutch attack down the right flank and Kjaer did well in maintaining the Danish composure along their back four. Who knows if Arsene Wenger will actually go for either of these young players, but I wouldn’t be upset to see either plying their trade in the Red and White sometime soon.
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Check out all the latest on Andy’s travels around Europe and South Africa with Football Nomad! Exclusive commentary, photos and video as Andy and Patrick soak in the vibe, supporters and culture during the World Cup.
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