Champions’ League 2007-2008: Sevilla 3 – Arsenal 1

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
November 28th, 2007 • 2:22 pm

Ouch. That’s got to hurt—even if only a little bit, since objectively the only real cost is a potential loss of top spot in the group (depending on the results of the final group games).

Arsène Wenger quite obviously took a gamble and for a while it looked like it would pay off, but then Philippe Senderos had a bit of a shocker and Sevilla pounced, essentially beating the Gunners at their own game of fluid, attacking football—with a sprinkling of undesirable theatrics, of course, as is customary with teams from that part of the world.

There’s not much more to say about the game itself. Bendtner had a good game, but did not score, and Eduardo scored a good goal, but then faded away. The big problem, however, was the lack of defensive strength. Senderos and Gilberto might have had the excuse of being rusty, but at this level if you want to compete you need to wait on the sidelines and be ready to pounce. Senderos in particular is a significant source of concern, because he’s the designated replacement for Kolo Touré when he goes away in January for the African Cup of Nations.

If Lehmann was dropped after a couple of bad mistakes and has not had a chance to play since, how many errors will Senderos be allowed before he’s dropped as well? We might have Alex Song and Djourou (if he comes back from Birmingham as expected) as back-ups, but this does not suggest great solidity in the back, and championship contenders, in this day and age, cannot really afford to slip up. What if Gallas picks up another injury?

With Fábregas also picking up a hamstring injury, it is all a bit worrying—but of course there were always going to be several stern tests this season and the team will ultimately be judged on its ability to bounce back. This is the first real test, with the first defeat of the season, and the game at Aston Villa will be intriguing to say the least. If it’s a victory, the team will have shown its character in a big way. If it’s a draw, there will be question marks, but it won’t be a disaster and Arsenal will still be top of the league. If it’s a loss, then… there will be more worries, and more questions. But it won’t be the end of the world either. It’ll just be an even bigger test, with the away game in hand at Newcastle coming a few days later.

It might be time to brace ourselves for a slightly more rocky ride…

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