Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Arsene Wenger gets the tactics right as Arsenal hammer Porto

Arsenal went through to the quarter final with a 5-0 victory, which at times wasn't as comfortable as the scoreline suggested. Samir Nasri and Emmanuel Eboue's goals 90 seconds of football apart made the final 20 minutes routine.
Arsene Wenger went with Samir Nasri in the Fabregas role as expected, and Arshavin, Diaby, Song, Campbell and Sagna came in for Fabregas, Walcott, Denilson, Silvestre and Eboue. Arshavin on the left was big, as it gave Nasri the freedom to roam behind Nicklas Bendtner, and Arshavin provided another creative option in the absence of Fabregas. It was Nasri who found Arshavin before the ball rebounded to Bendtner for the first goal. Arshavin was involved for the second goal; Fucile gave the ball away, and Arshavin's brilliant run then cross found Bendtner to tap in. 2-0 25 minutes in, and it looked smooth sailing. However, Porto pushed back; while they didn't threaten that much (Nasri cleared one of the line just before scoring), they held the ball, and forced Arsenal to give it away. That all changed in the 62nd minute, when Nasri got the ball from Diaby, cut inside, beat 3 defenders and finished with aplomb. It was a brilliant goal, and Nasri's freedom to roam allowed him to get into position. Also, the training that Arsene Wenger has Arsenal do, like keeping the ball in tight spaces really came out in this goal.
Arsenal's fourth than came 90 seconds of football later; Porto's corner was headed clear by Clichy, Arshavin broke and played in Eboue who was steaming forward, Eboue than took it round the keeper and finished with his left foot. Porto were beaten, Arsenal spent the next 20 mintues controlling the ball, and we got our 5th when Eboue was tugged down in the area. Bendtner completed his hat trick with a good penalty, and the hat trick will do him good after the misses against Burnley.
At time Arsenal's play wasn't the best; we gave the ball away a lot, but we ruined Porto's gameplan within 10 minutes, and we were clinical.
Arshavin on the left gave space to the midfield trio of Nasri, Song and Diaby. Song in Paticular was getting forward more than usual.
Defensively, Vermaelen was excellent as usual, and Campbell had some dodgy moments due to his lack of pace, but knew what he was doing. Clichy had one nervy moment, but both he and Sagna were good going forward. Almunia still needs to work on kicking. Bendtner showed again that he does get into good spaces. Also Eboue's corners were surprisingly impressive and more dangerous than the usual corners that we have.
So, Arsenal are in the last 8 of Europe for the third straight year, and unlike the last 2 years, we still have the league to fight for.
Possession: 54%
Shots: 17
On Target: 12
Passing: 80% successful

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