Last night saw Arsenal beat PSV Eindhoven 1-0 in a rather dire match. The lack of entertainment was largely due to PSV’s reserved style of play – steadfastly refusing to make any effort to actually win the match, even when behind to an Alex own goal.
The main team news was that Freddie Ljungberg had lost his race for fitness, meaning Jose Reyes came into the team, and Pires moved out to the right. Pascal Cygan continued to deputise for the injured Sol Campbell, and Robin van Persie made the bench against his fellow countrymen.
The first half was an Arsenal-dominated affair. Henry, Reyes, and Pires all came close to scoring before the deadlock was eventually broken. Henry collected the ball on the left-hand-side of the penalty area, and drove to the by-line, before cutting the ball back towards the on-rushing Patrick Vieira. The Chelsea-owned Brazilian defender Alex intervened, however, skillfully managing to strike the ball with both legs, forcing it to career off-course and into the back of the net.
In the second half, Arsenal appeared weary and lacking in ideas as PSV came back into the game. Vennegoor of Hesselink should have done better with a volleyed chance; driving the ball wide of the far post with just 15 minutes to spare. A late flurry from PSV panicked the Arsenal defence somewhat, but the anchored axis of Vieira and Gilberto enabled them to hold fast.
That ought to be the be-all and end-all. However, for some fans, not even winning is enough. The expectations on this team have now risen to ridiculous levels, and it’s important that we try to remember that they had played 4 games in very quick succession, and that the physical demands of our style of football are very high. We can’t expect to sweep away sides such as PSV with the same ease as we do someone like, with the greatest respect, Norwich. It’s unrealistic. A win was a great start, and we’ll grow from here.
Solid and commanding. The Standard said he had a “quiet game“. That’s always a good thing for a goalkeeper, I’d imagine. He’s becoming ever-more reliable. (Warning: This of course means that on Saturday he’ll mis-hit a goal-kick into his own net. Obviously.)
Fairly anomynous. Was often exposed by Pires, who didn’t seem to feel like defending very much at all.
Not his best game – he seemed to resort to just kicking the ball really really far. Needless to say, it didn’t work.
I’ve seen him berated for his performance in various forums and the like, but I have to say, being there, he seemed ok. His distribution was much better than Kolo’s, and he seemed to hold the line well. He did have one erratic moment where he let Vennegoor get free, but apart from that he wasn’t too worrying. Still, I can’t really justify giving him more than a
I have no recollection of Ashley in the match whatsoever. For fairness’ sake, I’ll say
In the first half, he was very average. In the second, he improved a little. However, defensively, he was pretty shoddy. He’s much much better coming from the left, and he didn’t seem at all happy out on the right last night.
Man of the Match. Yes, that’s right: Gilberto was Man of the Match. So many blocks and tackles, such good passing, and a few wonderful spins and tricks that we haven’t really seen before. I think being the main man during Paddy and Edu’s absence may have improved his confidence ten-fold.
A very solid performance. Defensively he was excellent, and even got forward and into the box a few times, as evidenced in the goal. Needs to learn to shoot more often though. He’s really scored some crackers in the past, and often let’s good oppurtunities drift by.
Tried his best, as ever, but it didn’t quite come off for him tonight. He and Henry inter-changed fairly well up the left-hand-side, and Jose nearly got himself a goal early on, but for whatever reason, he didn’t quite click into gear tonight. He’s still a massive threat who looks dangerous every time he gets the ball, though. Was replaced by Edu, who did do very well. Central midfield now has a lot of competition for places.
Not his best game. Linked up fairly well, but nothing really came off for him. Not really his fault – they sat Cocu on him and gave him very little space to work in.
Really gave his all, and nearly scored a couple of blinders cutting in from the left. Still the main man.
In other news, I went for a long-sleeved home shirt with Premiership badges and Bergkamp 10 on the back. Standard.