Arsenal attacked AZ Alkmaar with speed and purpose to all but seal their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Whisper it quietly but this may be the real deal. Arsenal’s speed and incision cut apart Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar but the win was received with as much as a whimper across Europe.
They’ve been promising it for a while now and the manner in which they defeated AZ moves Arsenal closer to making it even more possible. The Gunners lost their interest towards the end and allowed Jeremain Lens to grab the Dutch side a consolation but for much of the game it was one way traffic, directed by Cesc Fabregas.
The skipper grabbed two goals, the first squeezing past Romero’s near post and his outstretched arm after a probing foray forward by the impressive William Gallas. His second and Arsenal’s third saw Andrey Arshavin bag a trio of assists as Fabregas made pay of Romero’s decision sleep on the job to wrong foot the ‘keeper. In between van Persie’s movement to the left flank found Nasri in the forward position and the Frenchman coolly sidestepped his man before guiding the ball in the net. Diaby wrapped up the win after a swift counter attack starting from an Eduardo flick and ending with the gangly midfielder’s precision finish.
The Gunners even had the luxury of bringing on Eduardo and Rosicky during the closing stages to complete what is probably the most exciting and deadly front line in Europe. But having such talent requires discipline and organisation to allow a certain amount of balance and encouragingly there was some improvements in this regard in comparison with previous games before they decided more goals were more important than the clean sheet later on.
Diaby and Song started closer to each other allowing Fabregas to play higher and that is a key difference to the Arsenal side of yesteryear. Rather than playing through sides, they are looking to advance past them by committing men forward and quickly so teams have less time to get men behind the ball. They have sacrificed that bit of possession that Barcelona have and converted that energy into being more direct, an area which the Catalan giants may lack.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Almunia (7); Eboué (6), Gallas (8), Vermaelen (7), Gibbs (7); Nasri (8), Fábregas (8) (Ramsey), Song (6), Diaby (8), Arshavin (7) (Rosicky); Van Persie (7) (Eduardo). Subs: Mannone, Sagna, Senderos, Silvestre.
AZ Alkmaar (4-3-3): Romero; Jaliens, Moisander, Moreno, Poulsen; Dembele (Lens), Holman, Da Silva, Schaars, Martens; Pelle. Subs: Didulica, Pocognoli, Ari, Wernbloom, Van der Velden, Swerts.
Referee: Alain Hamer (Luxembourg)
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||AZ Alkmaar|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||3|
|4||Shots off Target||3|