Thursday, August 27, 2009

Arsenal 3, Celtic 1

3-1 to Arsenal on the night, 5-1 on aggregate.

I thought it was a good game in which we dominated. Eboue and Arshavin both scored great goals. Eduardo created a penalty out of thin air. Ramsey and Wilshere both got some games under their belts. And our midfield seemed to tick nicely without Cesc Fabregas.

We started the game in a hurry and we kept good pressure on the ball, but we seemed to run out of steam about the 60th minute and stopped our pressing game. By then Celtic had given up and the match was as good as over, but I think we'll need to work on applying pressure throughout the 90 minutes. If our work-rate drops off against Man Utd over the weekend, that could cost us.

I was really impressed with Eboue today. When Wenger first called him his Pass Master, I thought he was taking the piss, but Eboue does have a knack for making those angled little passes. If we're going to persevere with the Barca 4-3-3, we're going to need more dinky passers like Eboue and Denilson.

I was less impressed with Eduardo's dive. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't clever. I suppose Eduardo was expecting a full-bodied challenge from Boruc and just wanted to avoid another broken ankle, but still... it looks really bad. I think Eduardo knew it was the wrong thing to do as well, because he seemed distracted after the penalty and missed a couple of shots he normally would've put away.

Still, we're through to the Champions League proper, and if you believe Peter Hill-Wood, it's a prize in itself. I'd disagree with Hill-Wood. I tend to think it's the bare minimum. I expect Wenger to make a raft of signings now that we're assured the CL money. Akinfeev and M.Diarra would be a good start...

One last point - I watched the Maccabi Haifa vs Salzburg qualifier yesterday, and it was delightful to see the reactions of the Maccabi players after they'd won. They were genuninely happy and excited to have qualified for the Champions League. Playing in the Champions League is like a new adventure for them. When you consider that Arsenal's reaction to qualification would be relief, it makes you think. Maybe Platini's rejigging of the qualifying stages was the correct decision after all.


Vertino Aleci said...

it is funny as I seen only 7 or 8 teams making their debut this year. i say only because it sounded like platini wanted to probably double that number. Personally I don't think this number will exceede that much. It just means the weaker teams from previous CL editions will find it more difficult i.e. Celtic, Sporting who got knocked out.

weg said...

Really, only 7 or 8 debs? It's still nice to see clubs from smaller leagues entering the CL. It's what European football should be about, and not just the same clubs from Western Europe every year.

Vertino Aleci said...

I agree but not at the expense of Arsenal! Although it would be nice if we qualified automatically by winning our league. Pre-qualifying matches are getting annoying, because of them we can't play that league game. Otherwise we would be top by now.