Champions’ League: Arsenal 5 – Rosenborg 1

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
December 9th, 2004 • 1:40 am

That’s much better :). Finally we get to see some of Arsenal’s flamboyance in a Champions’ League game. Granted, it was just a qualifying round game, and the opposition wasn’t exactly top-class. But still — it was the Gunners as we like them, creating chance after chance, and putting quite a few of them “in the back of the old onion bag“, as Tommy Smith would say. (He had to say it again at least once, didn’t he?)

It was particularly good to see Reyes back on the score sheet after a bit of a barren run in the English Premier League. Thierry Henry also got his token goal keeper lob… But what about that Fabregas goal! So cool and composed in the middle of the Rosenborg defense… and he’s only 17! The little fellow is becoming quite a sensation. Of course, he’ll be expected to confirm against meatier opposition — but he’s already had quite a start to his footballing career!

Now, all was not rosy in this game. The goal conceded at 3-0 was a big disappointment, and Almunia had a big share of responsibility. The guy is just starting, so he deserves a bit of a break — but it’s a source of concern ahead of the Sunday game against Chelsea just the same. Still, you cannot just blame the keeper. Throughout the game, the Gunners looked vulnerable when defending set pieces yet again. The keeper has a good part to play in that respect, but he’s not alone in defending these set pieces. Everybody needs to take part. We don’t have many tall players, so those that are tall need to be there. Thierry Henry in particular has to play a part. I know he wants to be ready to sprint off in a counter-attack, but at the same time Arsenal cannot afford to be that vulnerable in set pieces. We already know that Chelsea are very good at exploiting such vulnerabilities, with players like John Terry.

On the other hand, I was quite pleased to see players like Reyes and Pires playing a significant defensive role in the game. Sometimes they are nowhere to be seen when it comes to defensive duties, but not on this game. Here’s hoping that they can replicate this type of performance on Sunday.

The other good news on Tuesday was that Chelsea fielded a full-strength team against Porto… and lost 2-1. I only fast-forwarded through that particular game (I am not exactly a Porto fan either), but it was clear that, after going one goal down in the first half, the Porto players put their hearts and souls into fighting back, and got their just rewards. As an Arsenal fan, I hope that this second Chelsea defeat under Mourinho will have some psychological impact on the players, who have tended to look overconfident in recent weeks.

I also cannot avoid mentioning the shameful bit of play-acting by Arjen Robben in the second half. He went down under a rather innocuous challenge, and then promptly clasped his head with his hand, as if he’d been hit. Yet the replays show quite clearly that the other player never even touched his head! This is far too reminiscent of the Makelele incident in the Champions’ League game against Monaco last year. The player didn’t get sent off this time, but it pisses me off just the same. Why aren’t the authorities taking action in such cases? It was blatant theatrics on Robben’s part, and this kind of attitude has no place in the game. As far as I am concerned, such behaviour should be punished by a lengthy suspension.

The game at Highbury on Sunday is definitely going to be massive! We’ll see whether Chelsea adopt negative tactics similar to the ones used by Manchester United in recent clashes with the Gunners. It’ll be an intriguing encounter, to be sure.

4 Responses to “Champions’ League: Arsenal 5 – Rosenborg 1”

  1. LoonyPandora says:

    The goal by Fabregas was mightily impressive – As you say, he’s only 17 and will only get better. I remember when Arsenal bought him, he had a lot of hype surrounding him – it looks like he might just live up to it.

    I have to laugh at your goalkeeping ‘crisis’ Comedy Manuel Is hilarious. I should do a quick FCP edit of him mouthing some words, and dub “I’m from Barcelona” over the top of it :D

    Aside from the fact that I disagree that Man U used negative tactics – I don’t think Chelsea need to change their style to beat Arsenal. – they have a very solid defence, which should cope with your attacking prowess, and the quality up front to challenge your recently shaky defence, and comedy goalkeeper.

    It saddens me to see how much people dive and try and get people in trouble – You are right, there is no place for it in football, and I think a crack-down with harsh penalties for diving should be enforced. Referees have the power to give yellow cards in-game for diving, but I think the video panel should become involved like they do when there is serious foul play.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Well, Barthez was good for a giggle in his time too ;-).

    I don’t see why Wenger doesn’t simply give Stuart Taylor a real chance to prove himself… But right now he’s on loan, so that settles that.

    As for theatrics, I’d draw a line between “ordinary” dives and blatant play acting intended to get the opponent punished. It’s one thing to try and win a free kick or a penalty, but it’s quite another to try and get another guy sent off and suspended.

    The FA keep arguing that, if the referee saw the incident and dealt with it during the game, then they can’t take additional action. I think that’s the core of the problem. I think that the FA has to admit that, in the heat of the action, the referee won’t necessarily see the behaviour in all its ugliness. Case in point is the Steven Gerrard challenge in the game against the Greeks on Wednesday. This was just plain ugly. A yellow card? Gerrard should have been sent off, plain and simple. Even if he didn’t actually hurt the player, there’s simply no excuse for such a gesture. And the intent to harm was clearly there. It was just one of these moments of madness that have to be punished as harshly as possible. He could have broken his leg.

  3. LoonyPandora says:

    Oh yeah, we’ve had our fair share of comedy keepers, Barthez, Massimo Taibi, Mark Bosnich. It must be a phase clubs go through after loosing a rock-solid keeper (Schmeichel, and Seaman in this case)

    I think the FA should go all the way on diving. Of course, cutting it completely out is impossible, and would take ‘something’ out of the game. However, it’s become a little bit of an epidemic, and if kids grow up thinking that’s how to play football, it’s only going to get worse IMHO. I haven’t seen the Gerrard tackle, I’ll have to have a look into it though…

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    The Gerrard tackle looks like a pure moment of madness to me. There was absolutely nothing to explain it. Steven had already pushed the ball beyond his marker and just had to run past him and continue with the ball. Somehow, inexplicably, as he was going by, he decided to try and kick him in the leg. Puzzling. And ugly.

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