By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
1. ROBIN VAN PERSIE: Was at the centre of his fair share of drama throughout the match and that speaks to his influence on the match. His goal in the second half to pull us level showed his true class as a striker…the ball was delivered late but he still managed to nip in to beat his defender, with his first touch opening enough space for him to swivel and stroke a low drive across the grain that caught Given napping and left him flailing at thin air. GORGEOUS!.
Rung another drive off the post (that had Given clearly beaten) later in the second half…if Robin had even a little luck he’d 5-6 league goals already this season.
2. TOMAS ROSICKY: Few have been harder on the diminutive Czech midfielder than myself…so I feel compelled to award him a 2nd star for his influential role in our attack in the second half. Despite coming on late and getting a limited number of touches, his passing looked fairly crisp and his movement to shake his defender and get into space to receive that pass in the box which he preceded to calmly convert was MONEY!.
3. BACARY SAGNA: Kept his side of the pitch clean as nothing of substance cam down the right flank. Nothing spectacular, just a rock steady and effective performance. Needs to do more to get his crosses over…but he just isn’t the same type of offensive player without Eboue playing in front of him and dropping back to cover off his runs.
GAEL CLICHY: Easily his worst match in The Arsenal kit. He was directly implicated in the last 3 goals Man Citah scored. The second goal they scored saw Clichy make a rash judgment call when he stormed after a 25-75 ball that was on the Man Citah side of the pitch got beat to the ball, found himself trapped and Man Citah proceeded to open us up like a can or sardines.
The third goal saw him mistime his challenge on Wright-Phillips who just shrugged him off and left him for dead on the pitch and served up that floating cross for the unmarked Adebayor to guide into the far corner. On the fourth goal he had his pocket picked by Craig Bellamy deep in the Man Citah end who then left Gael in the dust as he stormed back down the pitch as Man Citah blew us up again. Dismal day for Gael.
ALEXANDRE SONG: Slow motion man today. Always a step behind and his challenge on Micah Richards on the edge of our 18 yard box was lackadaisical to the point of negligent…it was beyond being half assed. Good Lord…beaten like a pack mule by a Central Defender on the edge of our 18 yard box…inexcusable.
He seriously needs to take a page out of another grinder/plumber midfielder that used to play for us (Mathieu Flamini) who made up for his lack of technical ability with a balls to the wall approach to the game and chasing down any loose ball or opponent trying to attack our defence. Too many times I see Song being way to casual with his pace of play OR making reckless challenges around the 18 yard box and giving up FK’s in prime real-estate. He needs a foot up the ass and some time on the bench to re-focus and get the hunger back.
MANUEL ALMUNIA: Not sure what is uglier…”Frankenstein’s” Pepe Le Pew inspired skunk mullet and 6 days of stuble OR his goal keeping!?!?. Beaten from 15 yards out with a lazy looping header that he couldn’t even manage to get the hell out of the way of…unlike goals 2,3,4 which he was seemingly invisible. Sure he saved our bacon in the away leg of the CL Semi-Finals…but seriously has he ever “stolen” a game for us in the last 2 years??? He has become a real liability…but with the Pollack #2 GK clearly NOT READY…we are stuck with “Frankenstein” and his brain cramps for the rest of this season. Sigh.
Not sure if this match or the one 2 weeks ago against Man Utd bothers me more. Fact of the matter is BOTH losses have been gut-wrenching, extremely frustrating and more than a little depressing. I was impressed with our offence in the second half…at 1-1 we were really pulling apart the Citah back 4 and you could just feel that second goal coming our way sooner than later…then bang!!!…Clichy goes on walkabout and bang we are down 2-1 and Citah are re-born.
We were in ascendancy and clearly dominating the match at 1-1..we didn’t need Clichy rolling the dice and going after a ball in the Citah side of the pitch when we were working our magic on the Citah net and bending their defence way out of shape.
Seeing as it is Clichy…i’ll cut him alot of slack…I am sure he’ll bounce back and get his game together very quickly.
Well we’ve got 2 losses now in quick succession…time to right the ship…re-commit to what was winning us matches and blowing up teams earlier on this season.
No need to panic…we’ll be heard from again shortly…we lost two games that we could have easily won with some better focus and killer instinct around the net.
The Group Stage match against Standard Leige on Wednesday night is the perfect tonic for The Arsenal players to snap out of their funk and take care of business. Time for the lads to get on a roll and string together some good performances (both sides of the ball) and wins, so that we can start climbing back up the table. There is still time to right the ship and get the results we need to make a lot of noise again this season.
As always I remain…
GUNS IN, GUNS OUT