Hard-working and disciplined Arsenal gun down Hoops

Arsenal produced a strong collective display to defeat Celtic in the Champions League play-off first leg.
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Cesc-Fabregas

Some remained unconvinced by Arsenal’s 6-1 thrashing of Everton but the win over Celtic showed that the result was no fluke. There was more than a bit of fortune about the goals – the first rebounded off William Gallas’ back while the second was an own goal – but the same basics that won the game at Goodison Park where displayed here.

Everton were poor while Celtic where tactically better and disciplined therefore denying the kind of openings that the Merseysiders did. However with the physical development of the modern game which makes it more difficult for teams to play such an expansive style through the centre, transitions and set-pieces have become key.

And Arsenal scored their first from a free kick as Gallas deflected in Cesc Fabregas’ shot. The second happened from a mini break as Arsenal caught Celtic with a quick attack and Diaby’s cross was diverted in to his own net by Gary Caldwell. At Everton, two goals were scored from free kicks and another two from the counter attack.

It was a collective team performance from the Gunners who also displayed the slick passing that has become synonymous of them with Van Persie, Arshavin and Fabregas very much at the heart. The trio’s passing and movement was too strong for Celtic while behind them, Song and Denilson provided the hard work and cover for the creative men to shine. Alex Song expertly anchored the midfield, his reading of the game coming on leaps and bounds while Denilson put in a tireless and much underrated shift.

Celtic sprang a surprise and started with Aiden McGeady and Samaras up front and initially played a lot of long balls to the forward men. The Hoops main method of attack was to go down the wings as at times the Gunners narrowed in their attempt to play a fluid, passing game. However such occurrences remained unpunished as Arsenal were very organised and with Gallas and Vermaelen on top form, ensured nothing would get passed them.

Up front it was another game without a goal for Van Persie but the new system means goalscoring is to be shared. The Dutchman’s link up is ever improving although it would be better for Arsenal if he played higher a bit more. In a couple of instances he caused the Celtic defence trouble by threatening to get behind while the new set-up will be more effective the more times Arsenal can get men behind the opposition back line.

It would be too early to get carried away and too early to be over critical. There’s improvements to be made but the first step in team collective and understanding is there to ensure that there is every chance of a big success.

Man of the Match: Thomas Vermaelen – The Belgian international has fitted in superbly at Arsenal. His determination and mobility means the Gunners have more than a no-nonsense defender most were asking for.

Celtic (4-2-3-1) Boruc (6); Hinkel (6), Caldwell (6), Loovens (6), Daniel Fox (6); N’Guemo (6) (Pat McCourt), Donati (6) (Scott McDonald); McGeady (6), Brown (6), Maloney (5); Samaras (5) (Marc-Antoine Fortune).
Subs not used: Zaluska, Naylor, , Fortune, Flood, McCourt, O’Dea.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Almunia (7); Sagna (7), Vermaelen (8)*, Gallas (8), Clichy (7); Song (8), Denilson (7); Arshavin (7) (Abou Diaby), Fabregas (8), Bendtner (6); van Persie (7).
Subs not used: Mannone, Wilshere, Ramsey, Silvestre, Eboue, Gibbs.

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19 thoughts on “Hard-working and disciplined Arsenal gun down Hoops

  1. Good result for the team, we played with some maturity as well, slowing the game down towards the end, something we never did at Everton when we were 4-0 up, we can’t play high tempo for 95mins every game, we need 3 points, not goals galore.

    I still think the attackers need to improve, of the 8 goals we have scored thus far, only 1 has come from a striker who came on as a sub, we need the attackers to be ‘killers’ as the trainer called the Man Utd attackers last year, the bulk of goals come from attackers, we need them to start producing quickly.

    Tactically, the defensive line is being marshalled well, instead of always high, it sits deeper and thus is able to be proactive compared to the last two years, Vermaelen is one who looks like a natural defender and he is proactive rather than reactive, a big departure from the other defenders. The midfield was more compact yesterday, but it was not so against Everton, we need to be compact in midfield all the time and restrict chances to the opposition.

    1. Totally agree. Vermaelen plays with such courage and bravery, plus he
      is quick and strong. Reminds me a little of Martin Keown during his playing days. Song is begining to look like a star midfielder, hope he can continue improving his play.

      well done so far gunners, keep it up!!!

  2. one question, since Gallas’s goal was deflected in from Fabregas’s shot, does it considered an assist from Fab? If yes, then our captain would have already registered 3 assist in 2 games..

  3. Great game. I have to agree with your comments on Vermaelen, but I think Song deserves to be Man of the Match. He was absolutely immense last night.

  4. I LIKED, IN PARTICULAR, THE PHYSICAL SIDE TO THE TEAM SO FAR. IN THE TWO MATCHES SO FAR, NEITHER OPPONENT WAS GOING TO PUSH US ASIDE….SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED LAST SEASON. THE LADS ARE A SEASON MORE EXPERIENCED AND SEVERAL HAVE FILLED OUT A BIT. AS LONG AS WE HAVE OUR FAIR SHARE OF INJURIES ONLY.

  5. wenger must be reading the arsenal column . . .
    that was a great collective effort. we earned both victories together, which is a great feeling.
    i def agree with you that maybe the goals were fortuitous, but i htink the situations were a forced issue by our organization and collective defending. we put them in a position to fail, as my coach once said.
    i think the biggest difference from this year to the last is our chance-taking. we did not have as much possession as celtic, but we beat them in the one area that counts the most – in shots on goal. i think we took our chances with goals instead of trying to “walk them in” as we were so apt to do last year.
    fabregas’ free kick that led up to the goal was something i’d only seen with clubs like liverpool. i’m glad we’re mixing things up and trying new things.

    i actually thought that denilson did a great job again today. he was very good at reading passes and intercepting them. however, he is very much the unfinished article – remember his tackle that did not clear away and let celtic counterattack us? that was the one where vermaelen had to make a great jumping block to deny them.

    one thing that was of note that i noticed was song’s lack of passing understanding with his teammates. where fabregas excels in passing to where our players are going to be, song has not yet grasped the idea. he’s given the ball away on several occasions because of a lack of understnading with the rest of the squad. he is a weak spot. his tackling and movement are a great boon however. hopefully, this is one area in which he’ll be working on.

    1. It seems so. As soon as I wrote an article about team responsibility, they go about somewhat correcting it. There are some good points you make that I didn’t put in because I am going to write another article on the new system.
      However it seems most disagree with your comment on Song. Actually he’s improving greatly even more than last seasons overrated performances. He made seven interceptions against Everton and a good amount against Celtic. His reading of the game has become better as is his confidence.
      Passing can improve but it seems all Arsenal fans are guilty of demanding straight-away perfection for every player.

      1. true. Song is only 21yo, don’t expect him to be one of the best DM right now. Give them time.. Who is Patrick Vieira when he was 21?

        1. haha yea, i’m one of those fans who looks at the cup as half empty. i see a good victory, but i also know that the season is really long.

          one of the reasons why we should be wary of these performances is that we cannot use two DMs all the time. when each player is on his own in defense, the consequences of each mistake are multiplied by two. i shouldn’t expect perfection, but we shouldn’t forget that we have nasri and rosicky waiting to play in midfield.

  6. Thomas Vermaelen looks like an awesome signing for £10m and it is very rare that Arsene Wenger makes a mistake when selecting talented individuals but it is early days and he hasn’t been tested by some of the more aggressive and slicker strikers that the Premiership has to offer.
    Arsenal were collective brilliant and although the goals were fortunate I believe that you have to create your own luck! If Gallas didn’t make that run then the keeper would have plucked that ball out of the air effortlessly and if Clichy hadn’t fizzed that low driven cross into the box then Caldwell would not have been forced to try to cut out the pass and divert the ball into his own net.
    All in all a good performance – but do the mighty Gooners have the mental strength to perform like this at the business end of the season?

  7. I was very skeptic about Vermaalen but his recent performance proved me wrong. And I am very happy that I am proven wrong.

    The game against Pompey will be a lot easier than our fixtures so far. Should we already start rotating? How about this as a starting line up?

  8. @ The Brain, i completely agree that forward movement is very crucial in 4-2-3-1 system. Just look at our performance @ old trafford in the 1st leg CL semi, our forward movement was awful thus Man Ure’s defence was able push their line forward & make midfield’s space minimal. Also without forward movement, it encourages the player on the ball to play square passes which increases the chances of interception by the opposition as illustrated in the game previously mentioned.

  9. I still feel we need to take these results with a pinch of salt, and there are still flaws in our side that I feel need to be rectified.

    Up-front, we lack strength. As talented as Van Persie is, he simply doesn’t seem strong enough to lead the line, and gets sent to the floor when a defender pressures him.

    We saw this against Everton, but it wasn’t greatly exploited, as the gap Everton left in-between defence and midfield allowed him to pull off the centre-backs – other attacking players were also afforded such freedom.
    Against Celtic however, the midfield and defence was disciplined, and we looked quite toothless until Donati came off – at which point a fissure between the lines of defence and midfield became more apparent.

    We will likely need to learn to cope with playing against teams with disciplined banks of four sat in front of their goal. We need a forward who is able to receive the ball with his back to goal, retain possession in tight areas, and bring others into play in and around the box.

    This is why I feel Chamakh, in spite of his profligacy in front of goal, would be an excellent signing.

  10. Vermaelen is very similar to Gallas. His strength is that he reads the game early. Also he has pretty good pace. The cover-up he did in the Celtic match when Celtic had the break after an Arsenal corner proves it. Also for a Center Back he is a very good passer.

    All qualities fit in to what Arsenal want. I think the talk of ‘needing’ Hangeland should die down now.

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