Good morning. I think that we can all be happy with the result of last night’s game and especially with our performance. The team played really well and it is a great sign that even with so many players absent due to injury the team can still put in top quality performances.
Granted, Braga may not be the greatest team in the world and they made the team’s job a lot easier by allowing our players space and time on the ball. But, we shouldn’t forget that they dispatched Celtic and Sevilla in order to get to the group stage and they finished ahead of Porto in the league last season. So, they are by no means pushovers.
As expected, the team, lined up in defense with Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy. Though, in midfield, we started with Song, Wilshere, Nasri, Fabregas and Arshavin with Chamakh playing up front. I had thought that Wilshere may have been rested for the game as he has played quite a lot so far this season but he had a good game and his cheeky little back-heel for Chamakh’s goal was the icing on a good all-round performance by him. Let’s hope that he can keep his feet on the ground, because if he can do that he will develop into a world class player.
The goals came from Fabregas (penalty and header), Chamakh, Arshavin and two for Vela. Fabregas was great again and I think he is now back to his normal level, which is great. I also think that the arrival of Chamakh has made a difference too as his link play, holding up the ball and work rate is something that we were missing up front and it is nice to have a striker that is not afraid to get hurt in order to get on the end of a cross.
The most exciting thing about this season is that the team seems to have grown, learned and improved when compared with the last two seasons. That is great to see and it is also good to hear the manager say that we can no longer use being young as an excuse for not winning. The manager, players and fans all know that it is time for this team to deliver, no excuses. I, for one, really have a feeling that this could be a big year for us.
I’m not just getting carried away on the basis of last night’s result, but if you look at our games this season we have certainly grown as a team and the only blemish on our record is the 1-1 draw at Anfield, which is never a bad result, especially when you are a goal down with one minute left on the clock. Compare that with ManUre, whereas we are gaining a point late on, they have twice lost points late on.
The team has character and is showing signs of a greater resilience. Let’s hope that they can continue this vein of form as we can all remember them starting well before only to let their work-rate drop and as a result the performances and results reflected that. Hopefully this year they will put right that issue.
After the game the manager spoke about the quality of our performance:
“We won the game but I believe as well we played the game we wanted to play, at a high pace, with top technical quality and with a lot of creative attitude and a good concentration and collective spirit. Our game is based on that. It’s our philosophy and, for long patches of the game, we managed to express that. I believe we had many good performances on the pitch. Everybody played quite well, we were sound at the back, Wilshere had a very good game as well. Everybody played well.”
I suppose the only real downside of the performance was the poor accuracy of Arshavin’s passing and that is an area that he needs to work on. At one stage his passing accuracy was around 56%, which just isn’t good enough at that level. Defensively we could be a bit more solid, but hopefully that will come as Koscielny and Squillaci get used to the league and each other. Clichy is also a bit of a worry and it can only be a good thing that he now has Gibbs breathing down his neck.
The manager also revealed that Diaby has some bruising and ligament damage. We can only hope that they crack out some Oleg Luzhny placenta to help his recovery along and that he is back in training sooner rather than later.
Next on the agenda is a trip to the Stadium of Light at the weekend and it is a game where the team will need to stay fully focused in order to keep our current good run going and to keep pressure on Chelsea and ManUre. The game is a 17:30 GMT kick-off, which means that it’ll be a delightfully convenient 01:30 JST kick-off here… I hate when we have a late kick-off, though at least Sunday is a day off.
That’s about all for today. Check out Arseblog and Gunnerblog who will probably have a more in-depth report on last night’s game. Though, I suppose that’s what newspaper websites like The Guardian are for.
The shareholders’ Q&A session should be taking place this evening from 6pm-7pm, so hopefully there will be some interesting things to come out of it.
Right, that’ll do for today. Take it easy and enjoy the feeling of a 6-0 victory in the Champions League.