Archive for December 7th, 2009

Arsenal 2 – 0 Stoke: The Pygmy in the Middle shines

Add comment December 7th, 2009

Arsenal 2 – 0 Stoke (Arshavin 26, Ramsey 79)
Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

Stoke’s towering hardmen are not the obvious team against which to give Andrey Arshavin his first game as a lone striker.  However, an injury to Eduardo combined with the absence of Bendtner and Van Persie left Arsene with little choice: the tiny Russian had to go it alone.

The Times’ Alyson Rudd got it right when she said that the outcome was like an Aesop fable: Arshavin’s guile and trickery won out over Stoke’s brute force.  I’ve only seen extended highlights of the game, but the Russian’s movement was superb, moving off the ball faster than the lumbering defenders’ turning circles could possibly hope to keep up with.

In the first-half Arshavin won a penalty (from which Cesc’s effort was saved by Sorensen) and then scored the crucial opener, exchanging passes with Fabregas before expertly allowing himself to pinball off the defenders’ challenges and fire cutely into the far corner.

In the second half Arshavin struck the bar and was directly involved in the build-up to our second goal, helping divert the ball into the path of substitute Aaron Ramsey, who strolled in on goal before finishing nonchalantly with the outside of his right boot.

A win was what was required and a win was what we got – not, however, without cost.  Emmanuel Eboue, Tomas Rosicky and Armand Traore all left the field due to injures.  Of those, it is unsurprising to learn that Rosicky’s looks to be the most long-term.

We’re suffering plenty of injuries at the moment, especially in attacking areas.  However, the team and Arshavin found a solution that prevented us dropping further points.  Whether or not it will work in the longer term remains to be seen.

This week sees two games of varying importance.  A team of youngsters and oldsters will travel to Olympiacos, before a crunch game at Anfield on Sunday.

Liverpool will have been worried by Arshavin’s return to form.  Very worried.

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