Nasri shines, Eboue throws the cat amongst the pigeons + other thoughts on Arsenal-West Brom

Nasri shines, Eboue throws the cat amongst the pigeons + other thoughts on Arsenal-West Brom

Arsenal’s charge towards the Premier League crown got off to the best possible start with a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. New boy Samir Nasri got his first goal for the club and the only one in the game inside four minutes, comfortably side-footing home after lovely lead-up play involving Gael Clichy and Denilson.

There were a couple of surprises in the starting side that Arsene Wenger put on the pitch. Indeed, Nasri made his first start for Arsenal on the left side of midfield as Theo Walcott moved to the right. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Eboue replaced Aaron Ramsey as Denilson’s central-midfield partner (yes, you heard me) while Wenger chose to start Nicklas Bendtner in the place of Robin van Persie, officially the most injury-prone player in the universe.

Arsenal started the game as well as they could have hoped, stroking the ball around with ease and being rewarded with Nasri’s opener. West Brom were made to look like a poor version of Derby County in the opening 15 minuts as Walcott had a header blocked on the line and then Gallas fired narrowly wide with a fierce attempt from a fair way out. Indeed, such was the venom in Gallas’ shot that for a moment I thought Toure had made his way onto the pitch for a temporary cameo.

Even at this early stage I thought Arsenal were going to win by four or even five goals, such was the ridiculous dominanace of Wenger’s side. But no player could add to Nasri’s opener in the first half as shot after shot flew wide before the break.

Things changed a little bit after half-time as Arsenal’s intensity dropped slightly and West Brom raised their game. Djourou – who otherwise had a marvellous game – tried to play an opponent offside when maybe he shouldnt’ve as first Almunia was forced into a good save and then the Swiss player was forced to clear off the line. It was as strong a display of a player for making up for his own mistake as you are ever likely to see.

For the rest of the game, not much happened apart from some decent chances for Adebayor and a couple of blazed efforts by Eboue. But it mattered little as Arsenal’s defence made sure West Brom never went close to scoring and allowed the boys to get away with a reasonably impressive 1-0 win.

I was particularly impressed with Nasri’s performance in this game. To score a goal so early was great but it was his speed, control on the ball and particularly his strength that impressed me most. For such a small guy he displayed great upper-body strength and the way he was able to use his low centre of gravity to bounce of challenges reminded me a little bit of Lionel Messi. It’s early days yet for the Frenchman but thankfully he is confident of producing similar performances going forward:

“When I first met the boss, he said that maybe I would need a bit of time, maybe up to six months – but actually I felt really good straight away. Now I will have to continue week in and week out, and hopefully I can keep playing like that, it will be brilliant.”

Other notable performances came from Djourou, Adebayor and Eboue.

Apart from his one poor decision to go for an offside when it wasn’t on, Djourou rivalled Nasri for Man of the Match honours. He was strong in the air and calm on the ground and showed good positioning throughout the match. I know there will be people saying that it was only West Brom but I would encourage those people to watch the game two seasons ago when a 20-year-old Djourou helped Arsenal beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford. He can certainly play and with the form he’s showing at the moment I see no reason why Toure should be brought back into the side.

As for Adebayor, although he didn’t score and made a couple of strange decisions, this match showed exactly why he will be important for Arsenal this season. The guy’s work ethic and willingness to get involved was impeccable even if his finishing wasn’t up to scratch. I’ve read some supporters saying he was selfish at times but when you watch a player peel left time after time and whip in cross after cross he deserves to go alone every once in a while. All he needs to work on is making the right decision at the right time, something I’m sure Wenger will give him some help with.

And then there was Eboue. He wasn’t perfect yesterday but I thought he had a strong game. And while I don’t think he is the long-term answer to Arsenal’s defensive midfield slot and I still think that Wenger needs to make a signing – I certainly believe he can be relied upon to fit in from time to time. Either way, I do think he’s thrown the cat amongst the pigeons to a certain extent.

I’m sure there will be some people a little worried about the fact that Arsenal were not able to kill off West Brom. But I would advise them to sit back, chill out a bit and take note of the comments made by the manager following the match:

“I am pleased with the fact that we didn’t concede a goal. We scored two on Wednesday, one today, so it’s better than the reverse. Overall it was a good week for us. A winning start, a win in the Champions League, so yes a good week.”

At the end of the day all you can do is beat the sides in front of you and that is exactly what Arsenal has done. Liverpool, the only other ‘big four’ side to play two games this week were not able to do it while an admittedly understrength Manchester United were not even able to win the one game they had to play. As for Spurs, well…

Before I go today I just want to give a big shout out to all the boys from Arsenal Australia who made it down to the Pig ‘n’ Whistle Riverside in Brisbane on Saturday night to watch the game. It was a pleasure to meet you all – particularly Jammathon from Third Gen – and I look forward to watching future Arsenal matches with you guys down the line. I’ve included a great photo from the night in this post.

Just another reminder to all Australian Gooners that the official Arsenal Australia Supporters Club organise events all over the country, so if you’re interested in watching the matches with like-minded fans then go to their website and get involved.

Here’s cheers to a job well-done and the first Arsenal victory of many!

Have your say on Arsenal-West Brom by leaving a comment.

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39 Responses to “Nasri shines, Eboue throws the cat amongst the pigeons + other thoughts on Arsenal-West Brom”

  1. joe
    August 18, 2008 at 6:37 pm #

    Fair comments here, although Djourou is Swiss and not French as you say.

  2. butterfingers
    August 18, 2008 at 6:38 pm #

    As usual top post spanish wish I was there with you guys but maybe in a couple of weeks. Almunia has improved his timing I think as last season he seemed to punch away a lot of balls and stay on the line a lot but in pre season and against twente and brom he caught a lot more and used his body well and as long as we have a top keeper that’s half the battle won. Bit pissed off at gallas yelling at dijorou as the lad did great maybe he’s just letting him know that he won’t be getting his spot for a while.

  3. KEV
    August 18, 2008 at 6:42 pm #

    3 points on the board unfortunately i got bored i feared it was going to end 1 – 1 more worrying was chelsea’s destruction of the supposedly most improved team in the prem !!

  4. Spanish Fry
    August 18, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    @ joe – It’s funny when you spend time to write a post and then still make silly errors. Sorry about that. If you’ve got some time to comment I’d love to hear something about the game though!

  5. Spanish Fry
    August 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm #

    @ butterfingers – Look forward to seeing you at the pub soon. Gallas’ yelling was a bit unfair I reckon. I think he just needs to have a quiet word with him but I guess that’s just Gallas’ way. It worries me a little bit because Djourou looked really sheepish after the incident and that was sure to have affected his confidence a little bit.

    Good work Almunia though…

  6. Ole Gunner
    August 18, 2008 at 6:55 pm #

    Portsmouth were awful yesterday. If they played like that against Stoke, they could have lost 4-0 as well.

    Lasagna Diarrhea was hopeless and just underlined why he didn’t cut the grade at Chelsea and Arsenal.

    The problem with Portsmouth is that they don’t know what to do with the ball. They are alarmingly short on creativity.

    They will be hard to beat, but they’ll struggle against any team that gives them a good game.

  7. Bello Tukur Funtua
    August 18, 2008 at 7:09 pm #

    I was alittle bit nervous last saturday, considering what we went through playing FC Twenty of Holland.Well, thank god we got our first three points on the opening day of the season. All things being ok, we pray for success this season.

  8. astroangel
    August 18, 2008 at 7:31 pm #

    ” Robin van Persie, officially the most injury-prone player in the universe.”
    Oh,Diaby is the one too.

  9. Spanish Fry
    August 18, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    @ Ole Gunner – Lasgna Diarrhea… hilarious. I was surprised Portsmouth were so useless, they’ve got a great squad. Maybe they’ll step up as the season moves on.

  10. Spanish Fry
    August 18, 2008 at 7:34 pm #

    @ astroangel – You’re quite right. But we don’t rely on Diaby like we do van Persie so maybe it’s just a little more frustrating!

  11. joseph batte
    August 18, 2008 at 7:50 pm #

    I’m a gooner from Uganda, East Africa. I enjoyed reading your blog. I agree with you that Djourou had a good game. I believe if he is featured in a couple of games he would make that CB position his own.His game-reading is certainly better. Did you notice the clearance he made off the line? Tha future is certainly better. This could be arsenal’s year if Wenger signs a holding midfielder.

  12. ARSENAL GENERAL
    August 18, 2008 at 8:03 pm #

    i feel we need some more matured players to add to the present squad because after the match against west brom the final scoreline wasn’t encourageing then after watching the chelsea match i felt WENGER must act in the transfer market otherwise another trophyless season looms for us.SCOLARI will want to win everything even the less fancied trophy in the world so long as he plays in the competition to please ABROMOVICH.its going to be a tough seaon for us considering the fact that this team is younger than that of last season that had the likes FLAMINI,ALEXANDER HLEB & the humble GILBERTO SILVA.all the same i pray for a quick return from injury for FABREPAS,ROSICKY,EDUARDO,DIABY & BISCHORF & the iminent arrival may GOKHAN INLER or whosoever that will be signed.goodluck my beloved ARSENAL.

  13. Grant
    August 18, 2008 at 8:22 pm #

    Is that James Keys on the right in that photo? And you are going to think I’m a stalker SF – but I do know what you look like too… :-p

  14. Scope Knight
    August 18, 2008 at 9:13 pm #

    Djouru man of the match.37 games to go

  15. mburu
    August 18, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    not our best perfomance but i hope walcott will be better next time.PS why didn’t wenger put vela in i so crave to see him play

  16. Spanish Fry
    August 18, 2008 at 10:05 pm #

    @ Grant – Yeah it’s James Keys hahah. How do you know him and I mate?

  17. Grant
    August 18, 2008 at 10:10 pm #

    Lol. I thought that might freak you out SF. And I just happened to check if you replied on here – I didn’t keep refreshing the page or something more stalker-like. I went to Terrace a few years below you guys – 04. I remember you being pretty wicked at soccer – you were really fast. 🙂 There are a few other random links too – Keys is in dentistry the year above me and I work with your brother at David Jones. He’s the one who put me onto your blog in the first place 🙂

  18. Spanish Fry
    August 18, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    @ Grant – That’s pretty cool man. Yeah Keysy came down to the pub with me and another couple of guys from Terrace. It was good fun. You should definitely come to the Pig sometime and catch a game with us.

    Cheers buddy.

  19. shabana billirl
    August 18, 2008 at 10:30 pm #

    a very impressive performance,plis keep it up until it is the end of the seasson

  20. Gooner Phill
    August 18, 2008 at 10:31 pm #

    Good to meet you at the Pig Fry. We’ll have to have you guys up to the Sunshine Coast for a game.

  21. sunnycoast gooner
    August 18, 2008 at 10:39 pm #

    can anyone tell me if that is Andrew Paige in the back right of the photo with the blue Arsenal jacket on?

  22. Spanish Fry
    August 18, 2008 at 10:44 pm #

    @ Gooner Phill – No worries mate. Had a ball. I think it would be fun heading up to the Sunny Coast for a drive.

  23. Spanish Fry
    August 18, 2008 at 10:45 pm #

    @ sunnycoast gooner – Nah man that’s James Keys.

  24. Jens is a Legend
    August 19, 2008 at 1:40 am #

    I honestly think Djourou will keep Toure out of the team.Wenger has finally realised the Toure/Gallas partnership does not work.
    And Arsene keep picking Theo the guy needs a run of games to build up his confidence

  25. jay
    August 19, 2008 at 2:49 am #

    Djourou – super performance. If he keeps Toure out of the starting squad then this game will be the reason why and where it all started. Personally I would like to see Toure start instead but Djourou is a great cover! and he could be our new Flamini. He better than Senderos, he should play in the Swiss team instead of Big Phil.

    Nasri has showed us what to expect and thats good things to come. I predict him and Cesc will link well and when Tomas is back then I believe we will then start pushing hard for the title! and champo league.

  26. Willber
    August 19, 2008 at 3:15 am #

    Injuries did we not sign someone called Thomas?

  27. Darragh
    August 19, 2008 at 4:51 am #

    Perhaps we should start a Terrace Arsenal supporters club, eh?

    I thought Denilson played quite good as well!

    – Daz, another ex terracian!

  28. vlcgooner
    August 19, 2008 at 6:08 am #

    Before you guys get tooooooo excited about Djourou, remember that Big Phil looks pretty good against weaker teams as well. It is his memorable mistakes in pressure games that have really turned fans against him. in fact, statistically we let in fewer goals with Senderos in the side than we do without, although i’m not sure that stat has been corrected for the quality of competition. in any event, i am also excited about Djourou, but more circumspect in my judgments.

  29. vlcgooner
    August 19, 2008 at 6:09 am #

    correction: we win more points when he is in the side. i don’t know about his goals/game ratio.

  30. David
    August 19, 2008 at 7:40 am #

    Eboue is still sh*t.

  31. Le gunner
    August 19, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    Nasri has done really well hardly loses the ball not afraid to shoot (Who needs Hleb?)but for me man of the Match Is Clichy absolutely fantastic he terrorised West Brom with his quick runs the entire game. Adebayor looks a bit rusty in terms of finishing but I remember him strating last season like that but he’ll come good.
    There was a lot of hype about Chelsea scoring 4 goals so did A.Villa I saw the highlight to be honest Portsmouth looked shambolic Sol Cambell looks a bit fat and can’t run Diarra I have never rated him there is no way he was going to be first choice at Arsenal even after Flamini left. So I’m not bothered with Chelsea yes they are the new favourite this season. Its the 1st game and people getting carried away. M.utd draw 0-0 last season in their first game. Did it matter? Its a long way to go
    Can anyone tell me if Eboue has ever hit the target at Arsenal? Its a shame he is a powerful player he can run with the ball scare defenders and open up space but then spoiles all his hard work with a horrible final touch.

  32. vlcgooner
    August 19, 2008 at 10:58 am #

    Le Gunner, I can’t remember him ever scoring…which is why he is pressing so hard in front of the goal. I really think Eboue’s problems are all percent psychological– he is just wound a bit too tight. If he starts to score it could definitely start a virtuous cycle where he relaxes a bit more and gets better because of it.

  33. meharg
    August 19, 2008 at 11:16 am #

    I really enjoyed the game, and wasn’t to dissapointed that we didn’t put more in the back of the net. Its early days and Im keen to keep those clean sheets coming. I have high hopes for Bendtner this season, as you said with Persie being so injury prone, he has a real chance to make a name for himself, while Walcott still finds his place etc. Hope the leg is doing alright SP, keep up the good work.

  34. Spanish Fry
    August 19, 2008 at 2:47 pm #

    @ meharg – Hey mate, how you doing? Cheers for the well wishes. I agree with you about Bendtner and I also think Wenger is well aware of the impact he might have this season.

  35. kacimo
    August 19, 2008 at 8:14 pm #

    nasri is very importantfor the team

  36. ChrisL
    August 20, 2008 at 9:10 am #

    Good to see you guys at the pig… Great to read some positive comments about the game. I am getting sick of reading all this negative Ade this and Gallas that… There are a few gooners out there starting to sound like scum supporters…..
    Great article Mate!

  37. Bashkim
    August 20, 2008 at 9:16 pm #

    Greetings to all you gunners down under from Macedonia.
    I think Djourou has better concentration and understanding of the game than Kolo. He should be in the starting eleven.
    Watching the pre-season games I was also impressed by J. Wilshere. But, I share Wengers opinion that we are one signing away from having a team tha could win the premiership.

  38. Alausa
    November 13, 2008 at 11:35 am #

    Arsenal play very well put we need a srong milfieder lack alonso,senna,flamini etc.i want wenger to some things because we need to take a cup

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  1. Arsenal FC Blog | Djourou should be given the chance to do a Flamini at Toure’s expence - August 19, 2008

    […] start today by thanking everyone who commented on yesterday’s post focusing on the 1-0 weekend win over West Brom. There were some really interesting opinions on a […]

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