Win over Sevilla takes the pressure off Arsenal

Win over Sevilla takes the pressure off Arsenal

Arsenal got their assault on the Champions League title off to a perfect start with a 3-0 win over Spanish club Sevilla at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal broke the deadlock midway through the first half through a deflected strike from in-form Cesc Fabregas and held the lead until the break. The home side controlled the match in the second half before going further in front through a close-range strike from Robin van Persie before adding a third in stoppage time through another simple finish from substitute Eduardo da Silva. It was an impressive performance and result from Arsene Wenger’s side and will make them firm favourites to finish top of Group H, which also contains Slavia Prague and Steau Bucharest.

Robin van Persie broke his drought against SevillaThere was full coverage of the match on free-to-air down under and I sneaked it in before arriving just over a half-hour late for work. It was well worth it. There were two changes from the Arsenal side that started against Tottenham on the weekend, with Philippe Senderos replacing a tired Gilberto Silva at centre-back and Tomas Rosicky returning to the left-hand side at the expense of Abou Diaby.

The match was billed as a contest between two of Europe’s best attacking sides but the opening quarter of an hour or so was relatively tame. Both sides passed the ball around quite nicely but a couple of questionable long-range efforts were all each side had to show until Arsenal scored the opener out of the blue. Fabregas tried his luck again from range and his shot was flying well wide before Sevilla defender Julien Escude intervened and deflected the ball past Andreas Palop. It was the sort of goal that Frank Lampard has made famous and should probably have been given as an own goal to Escude. However, Fabregas was awarded with his sixth of the season,

The game heated up a little after the goal but Arsenal remained firmly in control. When Adebayor worked himself into an exceptional position after a burst of speed from the left, I was celebrating a second. But the eccentric striker fired horribly wide, my roommate laughed, and I sat back down. Arsenal were relatively untroubled for the rest of the half apart from one moment when Senderos failed to clear effectively in the penalty area. But Arsenal survived, and it ended 1-0 at the break.

Adebayor scuffs his awful shot wideA controlled second half

The second half started in very similar fashion to first, with Arsenal playing well with the ball and doing just enough defensively without it. A change was in order when Tomas Rosicky was forced off with a hamstring injury in the 49th minute and Diaby was brought on. Unfortunately for Rosicky, he is expected to miss at least two weeks.

Ten minutes later the lead was doubled. Arsenal won a free kick on the left and the dead ball was fired in by Fabregas, flicked on by Bacary Sagna and smashed into the back of the net from two yards out by van Persie. The second goal forced Sevilla to take the initiative as Daniel Alves started to peg back Gael Clichy and get into some good positions on the right. But while Clichy was being forced back, Sagna was having a great game, roaring up and down the right side with real verve and purpose. Sevilla may have had more of the ball but they only made one good clear opportunity that was wasted when substitute Alexander Kerzakhov failed to connect on the volley from only ten yards out.

And they were punished for that miss late on when young defender Federico Fazio gifted the ball to Alexander Hleb just outside the penalty area. Hleb slipped the ball out wide to the right and Fabregas crossed low for Eduardo, who had replaced Adebayor only minutes before, to finish. Game over, three points, and an emphatic result. The team huddle at the end of the match said it all.

Fabregas scored his sixth of the season against SevillaFabregas fabulous again

As you could expect from a 3-0 win against a top side, there were some great performances from the Arsenal players. Fabregas was again the best player on the field, controlling the tempo of the match and playing a large part in all three goals. He was well supported by Mathieu Flamini who had his best game of the season in the centre of midfield. The pair seemed to have a real understanding on the pitch for the first time this season and clearly outplayed the Sevilla combination of Christian Poulsen and Jose Marti. Other good performers were Sagna, who attacked and defended with real quality and Kolo Toure, who was a rock at the back when called upon.

It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means with Adebayor playing woefully at times and Senderos looking very shaky in defence. I was hoping that Adebayor, in particular, would build from his great game against Tottenham on the weekend but he seemed to support the theory from Goodplaya that he tends to deliver only when the chips are down. As for Senderos, I struggle to maintain confidence when he is on the pitch. A couple of his clearances were very poor and put the defence under immense pressure and in my opinion, Willam Gallas can’t come back soon enough.

All in all though, you can’t ask for a better start to the Champions League than a comprehensive victory over the toughest group rivals and that is exactly what the side achieved. The result will allow the boys to put the focus right back on the Premiership clash with Derby in the knowledge that a huge step has been made towards qualification to the second round, something a now Jose Mourinho-less Chelsea cannot.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Sevilla by leaving a comment.

22 Responses to “Win over Sevilla takes the pressure off Arsenal”

  1. ColonelMarquand
    September 20, 2007 at 7:34 pm #

    A good game and I think the team played really well as a unit (which is in contrast to last season when TH was there.) However I hope Wenger doesn’t play Diaby on the left wing anymore, he can be a really good player but he isn’t a winger and he doesn’t have a good left foot, he looked almost apologetic at time because there was nothing he could do with the ball going forward, it was pain full to watch. I thought Flam, Rosicky and Hleb played really well too, 3 players who last season got a lot of criticism from Arsenal fans because of how much they gave the ball away or because they were perceived by some as being ‘lightweight’. It’s a shame about Rosickys injury because he was looking like he was about to hit the form we know he’s capable of.

  2. ColonelMarquand
    September 20, 2007 at 7:35 pm #

    Oops that should read really well as a UNIT.

  3. India-Gunner
    September 20, 2007 at 7:40 pm #

    What is in the Spurs Trophy Cabinet:
    http://www.funnyoldgame.net/html/Spurs-Trophy-cabinet.html

  4. Spanish Fry
    September 20, 2007 at 8:37 pm #

    Just corrected your little typo, ColonelMarquand. It was a great performance, couldn’t agree more about Diaby. For a great result there was definitely some negatives which I see as a good thing. If Wenger and the boys can improve on them then things will get even better.

  5. Jay
    September 20, 2007 at 8:52 pm #

    If sevilla was our hardest game in the group then i can’t wait for the other games but then again we still have to play sevilla in spain that is the hardest game in the group. Good game. Also its good to have negatives that we can improve on with such a wonderful scoreline.
    Well wht i say is – BRING ON DERBY COUNTY!

  6. jos asante
    September 20, 2007 at 9:16 pm #

    How long will it take the pundits and especially Drogba to consider Arsenal or Liverpool as title contenders?
    About our game against Derby on saturday,I don’t want Arsene Wenger to change the team because of what happened to us last season about small teams.I mean to sugguest that we should take any match serious.
    Against Derby……..
    Almunia
    Sagna-Toure-Gallas-Clichy
    Hleb-Fabregas-Flamini-Walcott
    Adebayor-Van Persie
    Subs:Fabianski,Walcott,Diarra,Diaby,Gilberto,Senderos,Denilson.
    Arsenal 5 – Derby 1

  7. 433
    September 20, 2007 at 9:48 pm #

    My first thought was that the first goal was an own goal. I wasn’t as sure as Spanish Fry that the ball was going well wide, but he’s probably right. Arsenal were the better side and had some luck; I can’t help but smile.

  8. Spanish Fry
    September 20, 2007 at 10:06 pm #

    Jay – I just posted a reply to your comment about Mourinho and the media on the previous article. Feel free to reply to it here so we can continue the debate 😉

    Jos – I’m not willing to bet against you after this morning’s prediction. 5-1 doesn’t seem too farfetched 🙂 Good points about us not taking the small teams lightly.

    433 – Cheers mate. My roommate and I both thought the ball was going wide but I’ll take it, he got 12 points in Champions League fantasy for me!!

  9. Spanish Fry
    September 20, 2007 at 10:08 pm #

    Also guys, be sure to check out 433’s great blog ‘Arsenal et Les Bleus’. He’s (almost) always spot on 😀

  10. jos asante
    September 21, 2007 at 1:18 am #

    Arsenal look a real good team this year,I don’t think Arsenal are going to lose any game as they are very good now.
    The secret behind Jose Mourinho resigning from Chelsea!!!!
    Arsenal beating Sevilla 3 nil yesterday,Mourinho decided to leave because the way Arsenal are playing this season there is no way Chelsea can stand before Arsenal so he must leave before any disaster.

  11. Demetrio
    September 21, 2007 at 4:56 am #

    This is a bigger game then Tottenham and Man city since over the last 2 years, Derby is the kinda team we have droped points against. Our boys most be focused which i think they are. Like the years we won the title they are takin it one game at a time. The REAL reason Mourinho left is probably because their owner wants to play a style of football like Arsenal. Mourinho wins alot of games, but he cant seem to find a way to play football that is easy on the eyes and still win. So he i think he didnt want the pressure put on him. Also Helb, Rosicky, and Senderos are out for Derby. Walcott and Denilson should fill in in the mid field, Diaby is better in the middle so i’d rather see Denilson on the wing.

  12. Austen
    September 21, 2007 at 5:02 am #

    i didn’t watch the entire match but i caught enough to continue to want senderos gone. he’s the black hole in our defense. he basically begs players to roam near him. anyways, i agree that diaby should not be playing wing anymore. someone said walcott should start there and the more i think about it, the more it does seem to be the perfect opportunity for him to step up for that big “explosion” everyone is talking about. however, the first person that came to my mind was denilson. often when he comes into games as a substitute he sparks the offense toward the end of games. so i’d like to see what he can do for the whole 90. i am actually somewhat surprised with how easily we handled sevilla with minimal opportunities for them. flamini was fantastic as he has been most of the season. and finally about adebayor. i agree he’s not the perfect striker, but more and more watching him he seems so vital to this team. the past games he has been all over the pitch and essentially wherever we need him. he creates many opportunities and i don’t think anyone can deny that. anytime a player is creating chances, i have no problem with that. and spanish fry, you were proved right about RVP in the last match. but! in my defense, other than that one goal he didn’t seem to do that much in the match. but still… i concede. haha

  13. Jay
    September 21, 2007 at 7:40 am #

    SF – I replied in the other article lets carry on the debate!

  14. Spanish Fry
    September 21, 2007 at 8:35 am #

    Jay With the gunners easing passed Sevilla 3-0 you would have thought that all the papers and the media would be like :The gunners are unstoppable ” but no its all about bloody Mourinho. Also when we won in the north london derby to go top nothing was sed about how good the team was to win 3-1 after goin behind and going top of the prem, it was about chelsea and liverpool, it really angers me, we are playing the best football and are atm the best team in england, what more do we have to do to get some media attention.

    Spanish Fry – I have two things to say about this. One, is that Jose Mourinho’s exit is absolutely massive. Much, much bigger than Arsenal winning topping the table. The second thing is that the media being off Arsenal is a good thing. It means that when the losses come – and make no mistake, there will be losses – the headlines won’t be too harsh. The longer we stay ‘unknown’ the better, in my opinion.

    Jay – SF- I see your points but the media will only make arsenal big when we lose. I mean winning 3-1 against our biggest rivals, and losing 1-0 at HT. PLUS scoring goal of the season s ofar, you would have thought we would have got some recognition. Then when we outplay sevilla and crumble them 3-0, its all Mourinho. I agree the news is shocking and massive but there are about 100 stories about his sacking/resignation. Do you see where i’m coming from?

    That should get everyone up to speed…

  15. Spanish Fry
    September 21, 2007 at 9:02 am #

    Jay – To answer your latest point; I do see where you’re coming from. But like I said, Mourinho’s sacking is big, big news. Also, the media will always jump on a more negative story because it sells more. The recognition is definitely out there – check out Football365 or SkySports and you’ll see the praise we are getting – it’s just not coming from the tabloids etc. As I said before, the longer we remain a ‘surprise’ the better off it will be for a young and inexperienced team.

  16. Spanish Fry
    September 21, 2007 at 9:45 am #

    Demetrio – I’m not sure why Wenger continues with Diaby on the wing. I wrote a piece a loooong time ago about how I thought he was playing him out wide to improve his attacking ability but I now don’t think that’s the case. Maybe Diaby is more mentally mature than Walcott or Denilson and that’s why he is favoured to fill in where required. Who knows? But I definitely agree, I would like to see either of Walcott or Denilson starting wide against Derby with the injuries to Rosicky and (maybe) Hleb.

  17. Spanish Fry
    September 21, 2007 at 9:47 am #

    Austen – Senderos was extremely shaky. He worries me as well. I can’t wait to have Gallas back. As for van Persie, thanks for the praise! I actually thought he played very well up front – it was more a midfield battle than anything so both side’s strikers were relatively quiet but I thought van Persie was the pick of the bunch.

  18. Andrew
    September 21, 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    I’m glad the media are off of Arsenal at the moment, and on Chelsea. I believe that in terms of raw quality, they have a better squad than Man. Utd. and Liverpool. Man Utd have the potential to strike Chelsea really hard coming up when they play on Sunday. It could knock out a tital rival.

    The media’s focus on Chelsea allows Arsenal to concentrate on the football, though I don’t think media attention would affect the squad too much. Though it’s cliche anymore, the spirit really is terrific.

    About Diaby, I think Wenger sees that he is a fantastic attacking player, which is why he’s tried to play him in the hole or on the wing, with little defensive responsibility (which he seems to have trouble with). He just can’t get into the central midfield at the moment with Flamini playing like a beast and Fabregas on top form. No one would. I’d like to see Walcott in this game, preferably on the side of the field with the weakest fullback. He needs a good, confident performance.

    This is the team I’d like to see against Derby.

    Almunia
    Sagna-Gilberto-Toure-Clichy
    Denilson-Flamini-Fabregas-Walcott
    Adebayor-Eduardo

    Van Persie should get a rest and I agree that Senderos looks like a bit of a problem. He looked pretty good in pre-season, but we were comparing him to Alex Song, so it’s all relative. This is assuming Hleb is injured too. In truth Derby should cause Arsenal no problems at all, especially at The Emirates. They’re truly appalling. But they shouldn’t be taken lightly, even if they are awful. I’m pretty sure we could keep them out with Senderos and Song at the back. I actually fear for them a bit. Arsenal generally have one game a season where every chance goes in (6-1 Southampton, 5-0 Leeds, 7-0 Everton, 7-0 Middlesbrough, 6-2 Blackburn). This might be one o’ them games. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it could easily turn into something ugly. No confident predictions from me though, especially on the back of Derby’s win against Newcastle, who I thought would be better. Anyway, bring them on!

  19. Spanish Fry
    September 21, 2007 at 12:47 pm #

    “No confident predictions from me though, especially on the back of Derby’s win against Newcastle, who I thought would be better.”

    I’m actually very happy that Derby beat Newcastle. The longer Derby went without a win the harder and harder they would’ve been to play. I think Derby will still go hard but they know that there’s not much chance of getting points of Arsenal this weekend. I don’t see it turning into an absolute romp though, maybe just 2-0 or 3-0.

  20. gunnershabz
    September 21, 2007 at 4:14 pm #

    we have got loads of money to spend for a signing, hell we can go out there and buy ricardo quaresma for £28m, we got the money, but wenger has loads of faith in this squad and well he aint going to buy players that are being priced out of there values, i can see luka modric coming in for the last 6 months assault on the title.
    we got a great team but i feel we just lacking that width thats all.
    but i said it before sevilla spoke loads, dani alves and renato and now they shut up havent they, and all the media on chelsea, again we just minding our business and taking a game at a time.
    the good thing is the squad are being level-headed, a game at a time is a good motivation and well am sure people are suprised by our start, but am sure most arsenal fans aint suprised i aint… i know this team can do well i just was worried when we get injuries and tomas rosicky loves his hamstring injuries, we need a geniune left winger we need cover there. abou diaby i love him and i want him to be a great player, but he aint going nowhere when he playing out there.

  21. gunnershabz
    September 21, 2007 at 4:15 pm #

    the best thing is, our last 3 games we have won 3 something… which shows our conversion is very good

  22. Dodge
    September 24, 2007 at 7:04 am #

    I am a liverpool supporter but I got to say arsenal are looking really good. I thought henry’s departure would hit you hard but its made you stronger. Although I support liverpool are love to see good football being played and at the moment arsenal arethe team to watch. We’ll whip you when we meet though so don’t get to confident eh;-)

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