MaCinJay’s Musings

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Posts Tagged ‘Fabregas

Checkmate: AC Milan 0 – Arsenal 2

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It hasn’t been an easy time for Arsenal supporters. Two indifferent performances in the Premier League have seen the team’s lead whittled down to just one point. The game against Birmingham City was overshadowed by the horrendous injury early in the match to striker Eduardo, as the result of the sort of lunging, studs-first challenge that is all too common in the English game. Martin Taylor, the offending player, was rightfully sent off but Arsenal contrived to draw the game 2-2 after a lapse in concentration from Gaël Clichy gifted Birmingham a penalty in the dying moments of the match. After that came another draw against Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium when Arsenal were lucky to score their only goal of the game deep in injury time.

So one would have expected a demoralised side to turn out against European Champions AC Milan at the San Siro.

Instead we were treated to a truly dominating performance from the Gunners, who completely outplayed their illustrious opponents – at one stage in the second half a stat was shown indicating that possession was 60-40 in Arsenal’s favour! Besides a spell early in the game when Milan caused problems for Arsenal’s defence with crosses from open play and set-pieces, and another in the second half when it looked like the Italian side were getting a foothold in the game, the Italians could do nothing but lay on a grim defence in the face of the Gunner’s irresistible passing game. As the match wore on it looked like that they had done enough to stymie the English side after weathering early threats from Adebayor (fingertip save by Kalac) and the sublime Fabregas (hit the crossbar), as well as a series of missed opportunities from the likes of Senderos and Walcott.

Then with seven minutes of normal time left Fabregas picked up the ball deep in Milan’s half, ghosted through their midfield and fired a long-range shot into the bottom-left corner of Kalac’s net. After that it was virtually game over, as Milan needed two goals to win the tie with time running out due to the away-goals rule. In fact it was Arsenal who scored again in injury time when Walcott made amends for his earlier profligacy by beating a tiring Milan defender to the ball and laying on a cross for Adebayor to score his first Champions League goal for the club – a fitting end to a great night of European football for Arsenal.

Hopefully this will be the fillip they need for their two-prong assault on the English Premier and Champions League titles!

Arsenal back on top

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I don’t get to see much English football these days but was privileged to catch Arsenal’s 4-1 rout of Everton away. This, coupled with last season’s champions Manchester United upset loss to the Hammers, was enough to send the Gunners back to the top of the Premiership with a two-point advantage.

Everton had the better of the first half though and led 1-0 via an opportunistic Tim Cahill goal following a defensive howler by Niklas Bendtner, who failed to clear an Everton corner-kick in the 19th minute. Arsenal needed to score early in the second half to get a foothold in the game and Eduardo duly obliged with an expertly-taken goal in the 47th minute after gathering a long ball played into Everton’s penalty area.

This effectively turned the tide of the match in the Gunners’ favour and Eduardo bagged another little gem ten minutes later. Bendtner however compounded his blunder in the first half by getting sent off for a second yellow card with about fifteen minutes left to play. Wenger wisely brought on the more-combative Adebayor in place of the unfortunate Eduardo (who certainly couldn’t have been too happy with Bendtner for denying him a possible hat-trick). Even Wenger though could not have expected the switch to lead to another Arsenal goal after the substitute seized on another lapse in Everton’s defence.

Things went from bad to worse for Everton in the closing stages of the game when Arteta was sent off for leaving his elbow high in a challenge on Fabregas. In normal circumstances this would have resulted in just a caution but the referee must have had the earlier sending off in the back of his mind. To add insult to injury Arsenal capped their performance with a another goal on the stroke of full-time after late-substitute Rosicky rounded off a trademark sequence of passes with a low shot to the left corner of the Everton net.

Hopefully the Gunners can replicate this performance in their next game against local rivals West Ham on New Year’s Day.