Senderos the latest to leave + Arshavin the star against Madrid

Arsenal 2 – 1 Athletico Madrid ( Arshavin 86, 90, Pacheco 88 )
Highlights here; Arsene’s reaction here

Look at this, it looks like a proper match report.  Well, yesterday felt like a proper match.

To my relief, having hung my hat on that particular formation earlier this week, we lined up in something approaching a 4-3-3.  Vito Mannone was the goal’s quivering incumbent, with Gallas and Djourou flanked by Traore and Sagna in defence.  Denilson, Ramsey, and Tomas Rosicky (yes, you read that right) patrolled central midfield, whilst Nicklas Bendtner and Eboue were deployed wide of the central striker, Robin van Persie.

The first half was pretty dull, notable only for an excellent but disallowed Rosicky finish, but the half-time introduction of Jack Wilshere certainly livened things up.  He replaced Eboue on the right and immediately made an impact with his direct running and quick feet.  After the match, Arsene said of the teenager:

“He has matured, and compared to one year ago he has more power to take people on. That shows there is big potential there and makes him much more dangerous, he has gained a fraction of power that makes him much more dangerous. When he starts to go past people in the final 20 yards, you can always say there is something special there.”

Aaron Ramsey also looked more grown-up, both physically and in his decisions on the ball.  Those two are certainly very big prospects indeed, and will be looking for more league experience in the coming season.

Despite our domination, we didn’t take the game by the scruff of the neck until the triple introduction of Cesc, Arshavin, and Eduardo.  It was the former pair who combined for our opener, with just four minutes to go.  A good move put Cesc away on the right, and his left-footed cross was volleyed (left-footedly) into the near post by a calm Arshavin.

In typical Arsenal style, we then let Athletico in at the other end – a simple pass splitting the defence and allowing German Pachecho to nip in and score.

WIth time almost up, it seemed that was it, only for Arshavin to latch on to some head tennis at the back to round the keeper and net from the acutest of angles.  It was a fantastic finish and another demonstration of the Russian’s extraordinary talent.  Arsene said:

“The difference is now he knows how English football works. He knows as well he is part of the team from the start, and the team knows how important and how big an impact he can have on the results. Arshavin has what you cannot give to a player – he understands when there is an opportunity in the final third, and is certainly dangerous. I believe he can have a big impact his season.”

Arshavin is exceptional, and part of an attacking force that I’m no longer convinced requires supplementing.  The news (however unofficial) that Philippe Senderos has agreed to join Everton (and did so, I believe, a couple of weeks ago), leaves us somewhat light at the back on top of our midfield troubles.  Yesterday Arsene said he felt Emmanuel Eboue would stay, but it’s not clear if that’s just an attempt to drive Fiorentina’s bid up.  The name of Vieira was sung a little at the ground yesterday, and it’s certainly true that as a budget option he could provide cover in several positions.

It seems increasingly likely that a deal for the former skipper could be done.  Reading these comments from Kolo Toure, it’s clear what some leadership might add.

If we are to make some signings, expect it to happen soon.  Arsene said yesterday:

“I will be looking at all the options we have during the week, and then we close [pre-season]. I believe we have quite a strong squad now. If we can add one or two players, we will do it, but not more.”

So that’s potentially one or two players in the next week.  My bet at this stage?  Vieira and Chamakh.  I’m concerned about the defence, but I’m not sure Arsene is.

Should be an interesting week.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.