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Arsenal 1-0 Udinese: Great Result, Considering. Much More to Be Done

In Arsenal, Campions League, Cesc, Nasri, Transfers, Udinese, Walcott, Wenger on August 17, 2011 at 12:39 am

Since the game against Newcastle on Saturday the world is starting to look very different.  Whilst there has been much anticipation and little surprise, Cesc Fabregas now dons the colours of his beloved FC Barcelona.  There has been a lot of debate as who got the best out of the deal and at face value it would seem that Barcelona are rubbing there hands with glee.  They have finally signed one of the world most talented midfielders  and somehow they have even managed to persuade him to forgo a £4M sell-on clause which means that Cesc has also been forced to contribute to his transfer fee.

On top of this Samir Nasri has firmly driven a wedge between himself and the Arsenal fans by publicly expressing his dismay at some of the chanting from Arsenal fans at St. James Park.  The fact that the travelling support were so open regarding their feeling on the Nasri contract saga just goes to show how low his stock currently is with the fans whose expectations, by default, are very high in terms of player allegiance and committment to the club whilst under contract.  To have publically tweeted the two texts below can be perceived by many as a sign of contempt not just for his own position but also to congratulate Cesc on achieving his departure.

For everyone’s sake now it’s time for Arsenal to help manoeuvre Nasri’s departure from the club and we can only hope that the recent actions have not limited the choices for an exit and, as such, reduced the value in a similar way to Cesc’s with a one and only departure to Barcelona being possible.

So with Cesc gone and Nasri unlikely to be in Arsene’s immediate plans who is going to step up to the plate and take on the role of as the engine of the midfield.  Well, it’s certainly not going to be Emmanuel Eboue and the club have today agree terms with Galatasary in what is officially an undisclosed fee but rumour suggest that a figure of about €3.5 million.  Again, this move was not unexpected and it’s the right decision for both parties following some cataclysmic displays towards the end of last season which was epitomised by the penalty conceded at the death against Liverpool.

The changing room will be a quieter place without Eboue as he was a larger than life character which was open for all to see when he stood on the otuchline and greeted each and every place as the left the pitch at both half-time and end of match.  His turn around in character following his substitution against Wigan at the Emirates was amazing and whilst he still had his faults on the pitch his ability to deal with that personal adversity mae him into a cult with some sections of the crowd.  Even during the last general election there was a campaign to vote for Eboue instead of the other candidates.  Whilst this may have been tongue his cheek it helped manifest the cult status.

But the deep down, Eboue was his own undoing as he alway tried to do that little bit too much.

Good luck with the move to Galatasary, Emmanuel, you conducted yourself with great decorum (which some others could take a lesson in) and here are some of your finer moments.

And so onto tonight’s games against Udinese and I must admit that I knew little about their team other than that they have Italy’s top scorer for the past two seasons in De Natale

Tonight’s starting line-up was:

Szczesny

Sanga, Koscienly, Vermaelen, Gibbs

Song, Rosicky, Ramsey

Walcott, Chamakh, Gervinho

Subs: Fabianski, Ox-Chamberlain, Arshavin, Frimpong, Bendtner, Jenksinson

On the day that he was announced as vice-captain, Thomas Vermaelen lead the team out due to RvPs suspension from last seasons encounter at the Nou Camp.

The game started at a high tempo and this suited Arsenal who were passing the ball crisply and making good movements across the pitch.  In their first true foray into the Udinese box a sharp cross from Aaron Ramsey was met decisively by Theo Walcott and it was One-Nil to The Arsenal within 4 minutes.

Following this no team really got a stranglehold on the game and barring a couple of chances for Udinese with Szczesny saving well in the first half from Di Natale, the first half passed by with plenty of movement but no real chances to speak of.  At half-time, Gibbs was replaced by Djourou with the former suffering from a hamstring injury.

In the second half you could sense that Udinese fancied their chances of an away goal and continued to pressurize the Arsenal defence.  Just after 9 minutes on the pitch, Johan Djourou was himself replaced by Carl Jenkinson due to the second hamstring injury of the evening.  Is it me or does the Arsenal squad not seem to have had a problem with hamstring injuries over recent time?

Therefore, Vermaelen switched back into the central defence and there were now two right backs on the pitch and Jenkinson played out of his natural position and took the left berth for the rest of the game.

Udinese continues to press forward but were unable to convert their chances and possesion.  By the end of the game, Udinese has 12 shots at goal by only 3 on target.  By comparison, the home team only managed half as many shots with an equal 3 on target.

Theo Walcott has one great chance after being put through by Aaron Ramsey and whilst one on one with the goalkeeper Theo contrived to completely scuff an attempted chip and the chance ended as a damp squib.

Szczesny pulled off an excellent save from a Di Natale free kick just outside the box with the Arsenal No. 1 diving across the length of the goal to turning a curling ball around the post for a corner.

Walcott had the final chance of the evening when put through following on of Gervinho’s dazzling runs only to not put the far enough away from keeper, Handanovic, who made a good save but it could have be made harder for him.

What can we take from the game?  There were certainly some areas of promise.  Our defence managed to keep a clean sheet; we take a lead, albeit a rather slim one to the second leg; and the fans were vocal and supportive of the team’s performance.  Note: there was no announcement of attendance as previously informed by Ivan Gazdis but official numbers state that just over 58,000 were present tonight – there seems to be many more empty seats that this suggests……

As for areas of concern, unfortunately these outweigh the positives:

  • the central midfield seemed to tire in the second half and suffered from a lack of concentration in passing movements Read the rest of this entry »
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