By Karl M. Tinsley

https://i0.wp.com/www.uefa.com/multimediafiles/photo/competitions/ucl/87/83/46/878346_biglandscape.jpg?resize=274%2C181Glad to be back for another season of Gunners football. Nice to see the lads off to a flying start for 2009/10.

MY 3 STARS

1. EMMANUEL EBOUE: In the first half he had his cheeky passing skills on full display with an assortment of backheels and flicks to spring our forwards and pick out the overlapping runs of Sagna. Made a nice first touch, turn and shoot on the feed from Diaby that was inches from finding the back of the net in the first half. Served up a lovely 1-2 to Eduardo in traffic in the 18 yard box that won the PK which Eddy cooly dispatched to put us up 1-Nil.

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His goal in the second half which effectively killed off the tie was a clinical finish…like how he showed a cool demeanour to sell the fake to the defender and then wrong foot Boruc with that against the grain low rasping drive. MONEY. So very thankful that Wenger resisted the mob’s calls for Eboue to be moved out during the summer. Eboue has real skills and his versatility is absolutely golden for a team that has been exposed the last 2-3 seasons for its lack of depth and coverage.

2. EDUARDO: While he was caught flat footed on that juicy rebound left to him by Boruc on the reaction save against Bendtner…he made up for it with his coolly taken PK to move us ahead 1-Nil. Of course the dive was very sleazy and I don’t condone it under any circumstances.

But Eddy’s game tonight was a lot more than winning a questionable PK. His hustle was impressive and he made several terrific runs that were wasted due to poor service. He was our best player in the first half…faded a bit in the second half…but nonetheless he deserves a star.

3. WILLIAM GALLAS: He turned in another rock steady performance. Gallas had an awesome match on both sides of the ball…marshalling the back line, heading away any aerial balls played into our box and getting stuck in at every opportunity.

I liked his foraging run late in the first half that showed some slick dribbles and won a free kick. Love him or hate him but one thing for sure…”THE KILLER” is back!!!!

HONOURABLE MENTION

1. ALEXANDRE SONG: He had a fairly quiet first half keeping the middle of the pitch neat and tidy. However, he is still showing a penchant for giving up cheap fouls around the edges of our 18 yard box. That is a reflection on his need to improve his positional play so that he is not getting caught flat footed or wrong footed in his marking.

He did serve up some lovely outlet balls to the flanks that sprang some dangerous counter-attacks. Second half was similar to the first half. Good match from a player that is still evolving and developing his game.

2. ABOU DIABY: Liked what I saw out of him in the first half…was playing with his head up and making good distribution of the ball to our flanks and the strikers eg: his nice quick pass to Eboue at the top of the 18 yard box in the first half that Eboue was able to conjure up a legit scoring chance.

It is amazing that it has taken Diaby 3 years to finally understand how The Arsenal play football (quick pass and move). Glad to see Diaby turn in 2 solid performances in a row…something he has never been capable of in the previous 2 seasons.

3. ANDREY ARSHAVIN: The “Russian Schemer” just keeps getting better and better and better. I was a little worried that some of the magic might have been used up last season but evidently his magic bag is as deep as the ocean. Amazing how the players look to get him the ball every time down the pitch now. Not since Thierry Henry have we had such a dominant offensive player.

You could just feel the energy level of the team and the stadium rise a couple notches when he hit the pitch. With Arshavin and Cesc pulling the strings in the middle of the pitch…I feel very confident in our ability to outscore our opponents. His goal was exactly what we have come to expect from A.A., the silky first touch, the fluid body control and the clinical shooting boots.

4. BACARY SAGNA: Wasn’t tested too much but on the occasions he was Sagna showed off his acrobatic skills and lockdown defence. Is it me or has Sagna seemingly re-discovered that missing gear from 2007-2008??. His pace looks alot sharper this season. Good news.

LEMON(S)

NICKLAS BENDTNER: His dallying on the ball is slowing down our attacks…he needs to pass the ball and move a whole helluva lot quicker if he is going to be effective against the big clubs this season. He runs well off the ball but with the ball…slow.

His inability to finish has officially reached Adebayor proportions eg: the free header in the 6 yard box at the close of the first half. Sorry…but barring injury…this dude should not be starting for The Arsenal.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

We took care of our business in emphatic fashion and fairly cruised through what had the makings of being a very very difficult tie for us. For that the lads need to be congratulated. That makes 4 wins on the trot to open the season and 15 goals for and 3 against…I like that kind of ratio. Confidence is sky high as we head into the lions den at Old Trafford this weekend.

I think it is a good time to be getting Man Utd…they seem a little in disarray, what with the departures over the summer, the unsettling of Vidic and SAF’s failure to bring in big name replacements…Valencia??…for get about it. I like our chances…especially if Cesc is ready to go on Saturday. Now is the time to stick the knife in Man Utd and break off the blade. No prisoners on Saturday night.

Until Saturday…

GUNS IN GUNS OUT

Karlos

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