Samir Nasri and Denilson were in amongst the goals as Arsenal strolled past Standard Liege to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.
For great crime fighting double acts read Batman and Robin, Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse, Crockett and Tubbs, and now you can safely add Alex Song and Denilson to that list. When everyone else attacks, these two resist all temptations and hold up the fort behind them. 14 games had passed since the duo lined-up together and their selflessness as the double-axis in front of the defence was part of the reason for Arsenal’s scintillating football, particularly in the first half.
Song even had time to get forward in that period as the Gunners produced wave after attack and with only twelve minutes on the clock could have scored three. As it, was Arsenal needed a little help from Standard Liege’s left back Landry Mulemo to take the lead, misjudging a long ball from Thomas Vermaelen to let Nasri in and he tucked the ball past Turkish U21 goalkeeper Sinan Bolat. Denilson wrapped things up in the last-minute of the half with a Ronaldo-esque dipping shot which swerved all over the place before finally landing in the middle of the net. By the time the Brazilian was replaced, Arsenal had taken their foot of the pedal but such was the expertise of the midfielder, his substitute Tomas Rosicky looked to be asking his colleague for some pointers before making his way on the pitch.
Carlos Vela surprisingly got the nod ahead of Eduardo and the forward produced a lively display if not having the individual effect he would have wanted. His movement off the ball and combinations with others pleased the manager and overall, the side had more variety and dynamism than the display at Sunderland. In a sense it was easier for Vela to adapt because of the personnel on show, allowing the side to play a more quicker game than at the Stadium of Light. Nasri on the right looked to support Vela by coming inside as the Mexican drifted usually towards the left which freed up space for Emmanuel Eboue to drive forward. The midfield shield of Denilson and Song, the former slightly elongated to the left allowed Cesc Fabregas to provide support higher up as the interior.
But Arsenal’s evening was overshadowed somewhat by the unfortunate injury to Kieran Gibbs who could be out for three months with a metatarsal injury while Gallas hobbled off with a boxer’s bruise above his eye and an ankle injury.
Arsenal 2-0 Standard Liege: Nasri 35, Denilson 45
Red Card: Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez 83
Arsenal (4-3-3): Almunia (7), Eboue (7), Gallas (7) (Silvestre 6), Vermaelen (7), Gibbs (7), Fabregas (7), Song Billong (8)*, Denilson (8) (Rosicky 7), Nasri (7) (Walcott 6), Arshavin (7), Vela (7).
Subs: Mannone, Sagna, Eduardo, Traore.
Standard Liege (4-5-1): Bolat, Camozzato, Sarr, Felipe, Mulemo, Goreux, Witsel, Mangala, Carcela-Gonzalez, Dalmat, Mbokani.
Subs: Van Hout, Victor Ramos, Rocha, Traore, Gershon, Nicaise, Gohi-Bi.
Referee: Konrad Plautz (Austria)
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Standard Liege|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|11||Shots on Target||1|
|10||Shots off Target||6|