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.