Braga’s Brazilian counter-attacking analysed: Champions League Scouting – Arsenal vs. Braga

Os Arsenalistas are about to face their namesakes, in a clash which sees Europe’s most consistent Champions League Qualifiers, Arsenal, take on S. C. Braga in their first campaign.

The 2009-2010 league season was excellent for Braga. Under Domingos Paciência they led the Portuguese league for much of the season, losing out to Benfica in what was a two horse race. Finishing second was still an unprecedented achievement for a club generally considered inferior to the ‘Big Three’ – Benfica, Porto and Sporting Lisbon.


The 2009-10 Liga Table

Continue reading “Braga’s Brazilian counter-attacking analysed: Champions League Scouting – Arsenal vs. Braga”

Arsenal 5-0 Porto Highlights: a balanced side get it right on the night with a Nasri stunner

Bendtner 10, Bendtner 25, Nasri 63, Eboue 66, Bendtner (pen) 90+1

I’m still reeling from the fantastic performance Arsenal put in last night. Say what you want about Porto, winning 5-0 in the second round of the Champions League is some achievement -especially after being 2-1 down in humiliating fashion in the first leg.

Arshavin provided a lot of the key moments in the game, setting up three goals. Overall I think everyone put in a good performance, and gave a good account of the team.

Continue reading “Arsenal 5-0 Porto Highlights: a balanced side get it right on the night with a Nasri stunner”

Porto 2 – 0 Arsenal Highlights: Little meaning in lacklustre performance

We lost for the seventh time this season last night, with a pretty abject display against Porto. Highlights here.

Not very much to cheer about, I’m pretty glad I’m not one of the fans who travelled all the way to Portugal for this one. We started alright but the passing was decidedly poor, and apart from a bit of magic form Ramsey we looked crap. Eboue started and was indifferent, but then again so was just about every other player.

The thing that worries me about last night is that we actually had a reasonable team out, but performed awfully. The defence wasn’t first choice, but Silvestre, Djourou, Gallas, Eboue is probably one of our stronger choices, and up front we had Bendtner and Vela who have both shown great potential, while in the middle Ramsey, Diaby, Denilson and Song also all have potential. But the team didn’t gel and players didn’t put the defensive effort in. Take Gallas’ sliced clearance in the second half, or Diaby’s bad defence when we conceded.

A mere point from this game could have put us first. It doesn’t make a huge amount of difference in terms of who we draw next round, they will all be hard games, but you would have thought we could have put a bit more effort in. Hopefully we will see some first teamers back and a good performance against Middlesbrough on Saturday away.

Porto vs. Arsenal Build-up

So we head to Portugal for the last game of the gruop stage. It’s not our strongest squad – a mixture of youth and older players, with a lot of key faces missing.

1. Manuel Almunia
21. Lukasz Fabianski
10. William Gallas
18. Mikael Silvestre
40. Kieran Gibbs
41. Gavin Hoyte
27. Emmanuel Eboue
20. Johan Djourou
17. Alex Song
15. Denilson
16. Aaron Ramsey
47. Mark Randall
2. Abou Diaby
43. Fran Merida
19. Jack Wilshere
26. Nicklas Bendtner
12. Carlos Vela
50. Jay Simpson

This isn’t unexpected, we have already qualified, it would be nice to top the group though, a draw would do for that.

Eboue comes back in, Arsene suggests that playing away from home may be an easy way of sliding him back into the squad and regaining his confidence. Any games he gets should help him forget about the Wigan game.

So looking for some points and some experience for the kids, some of whom may soon be on loan, as we don’t have the Carling Cup on the agenda anymore.

It won’t be easy tonight, away in Europe never is.

Arsenal 4 – 0 FC Porto: Highlights

Arsenal responded resoundingly to their critics tonight, outplaying Porto and winning 4 – 0 to put them top of Group G with 4 points.

To watch highlights of the whole game click here.

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Match Report

Arsenal started well, although there were a few close calls early on – a badly defended corner lead to Clichy clearing off the line, and a Porto shot skimmed the bar.

Van Persie looked so much sharper than on Saturday, and he got the first goal – a lovely move, leading to him sliding in Ade’s cross. Click to watch.

Ade got the second, heading down into the ground from a corner, the ball looped over Almu and in off the underside of the bar. Click to watch.

RVP scored again in the second half, this time taking it past the Porto defender and smashing it home with a left footed drive. Click to watch.

Ade finished the scoring from a penalty after Bendtner was brought down in the box. Click to watch.

Goals: Van Persie 31, Adebayor 40, Van Persie 48, Adebayor 71 pen.

Player Analysis

We could have scored more, Bendtner, Nasri, Eboue, Walcott all spurned chances. Walcott played well, as did Nasri – I thought he added an extra dimension to our play which was much needed. Clichy was also back to his best on the left!

Eboue, Bendtner and Vela came on, Eboue didn’t contribute greatly, except by making the crowd laugh at his imitation of Ronaldo step-overs – badly.. Bendtner, who I think is excellent, wasn’t sharp at all, but still looked ok. Meanwhile Vela performed fantastically and is definetly one to watch!

Overview

All in all a good, standard Arsenal performance, Porto weren’t great, but we kept possession well and closed them down, which made it hard for them. The goals were well taken and we could have had more. In the last 10 minutes we got a little complacent but we still won 4 – 0, a clean sheet is always welcome!

One point to make is that Porto never really got going, and we were lucky that Clichy cleared their best chance off the line. They like to play attacking and keep the ball on the ground, that is our game, and we can beat anyone at that on our day. The Fulhams and Hulls of the world are teams who you need to beat to win the Premier League.

4 points now in the CL – top of Group G, so lets take this result and push on against Sunderland on Saturday – another team who will be hard to beat.

Wenger – changes and ‘Champions League focus’ – pre-Porto

Arsene Wenger spoke on a large range of issues in the press conference ahead of the Champions League game against Porto.

It has been widely expected that there will be changes in the line-up that lost to Hull City, but a knee-jerk reaction will not be the correct one.

The BBC has the video of Arsene Wenger’s pre-match press conference.

Wenger said there would be changes:

“There will be changes, certainly,” the Arsenal manager said. “I will see how many, but there will be changes.

“There were enough ingredients (in the Hull game) to make me physically sick.

“What we delivered was not good enough and we know that. I believe that is more down to the mental side than anything technical.”

“What is important now is to recover and prepare for the next game,”

He then calmed speculation that the changes were being made as punishment through demotion to the bench:

“Punishment? No, you know sometimes you make changes because you consider the other team, you consider the balance of your team, sometimes because one player is not at his best,”

“If a player or two do not play tomorrow it is not a punishment, it is just because of a rotation in the side. You cannot play every single game with the same 11 players.”

“I believe the goal we conceded where we are less guilty is the corner against Hull because it was a well-taken chance,” he said. “[Hull’s Daniel] Cousin is very tall and very good in the air. It was a perfect header and that can happen to anybody.

“You gain experience through the games. At the back is where we have experience because you cannot say with Clichy and Sagna and Kolo and Gallas that we lack experience. Will Kolo play in midfield? No, not at all.

“As for Vela, it’s difficult to go into any individual case. I believe Carlos Vela is a player of the squad and the whole squad will be used over the season. You cannot go from one team to the other and change 11 players because we just lost one game.

“I believe what is happening is that players have shown quality behind the first team and that is very interesting for the future of the Club.”

On the last CL game against Dynamo Kiev he defended the team:

“The side we played against Dynamo Kiev was very young. Theo Walcott is 19, Alexandre Song is 21, Denilson is 20 and even Cesc Fabregas is only 21,”

“It is not easy to win away in the Champions League with such a lack of experience.”

“This group is tougher than in previous years. It is definitely the most even group we have had because there are no easy games.

“That makes the match with Porto more important. We know in the Champions League you qualify with 10 points, so if we win our home games we are through.

“If we can do well, then the other teams will take all the points off each other and that is why I think even draws from our away games could prove good results because all the teams will drop points.

“There is no obvious weakest team, so every game will be very important and we will have to be at a high level for every game.”

He believes that we need to regain a ‘Champions League focus’ for every game:

“I believe the Champions League is a different game,”

“We have learned from the Hull match that you need a Champions League focus in every game.

“If we are guilty of something it is that we couldn’t get our focus to the right level to take our chances.

“The analysis of the game shows that we had enough opportunities to win. On the other hand, they made 100 per cent of the few chances they had. So credit to them and damage to us.

“You have not to make too much of it. We lost a game we did not want to lose but we have enough strength inside the Club and inside the team to deal with that. It can happen but it cannot be repeated.

“I don’t think we needed to be woken up but it was a big disappointment because we felt that we had enough quality to win the game.”

On injuries the main news is that Nasri is back:

“Song has still not recovered, I had him on the bench on Saturday but he did not feel comfortable and he had a little setback.

“Nasri is fit and is in the squad.”

Gallas echoed Wenger’s comments talking about how he wants to prepare:

“What we delivered against Hull was not good enough, we know that, so the important thing now is not how many games we can lose this season, but preparing well for Tuesday night.”

All in all you can tell that the team are very dissappointed about the Hull result. Losing at home is never pleasant, and especially not against teams like Hull.

It is very, very worrying that we have lost for a second time this season to ‘smaller teams’, and that we conceded from a corner yet again – we look extremely weak when defending set pieces.

All I can hope is that the team can recover and be back to their best for the Porto match, or we will be in trouble in the CL, and pressure will build from the media and fans.

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