Partizan Belgrade 1 – 3 Arsenal… top of the group.

September 29, 2010 6 Comments by Sian

In the beginning, the Arsenal arrived in the stadium in Belgrade. And the stadium was without light and brightness; and darkness was upon the face of the players. And the Spirit of Arsenal moved upon the face of the fans. And Wenger said, let there be light: and there was light.  And the ref saw the light, that it was good: and the technicians divided the stadium from the darkness.

Or something like that. Anyway, the lights in the stadium in Belgrade last night were up the pictures pre-match, the boys were having to get changed using the lights on their mobile phones and it was a little bit touch and go for a minute there. The lights flickered on and off and the match went ahead. Does anyone else think that surely, no matter the age of the stadium, it’s pretty basic that you and your opponents are able to see if you’re expecting to play Champions League football?

Anyway, we started off a little bit wobbly because we are Arsenal and that is the Arsenal way. Far too tense for what should have been a relatively easy match for us but then after West Brom last Saturday we could all be forgiven for feeling a tad nervy. On 15 minutes however, Jack Wilshere’s backpass to Andrey Arshavin showed us just why we’re all reluctant to shut up about his brilliance and Arshavin polished the goal off to put us 0-1 up.

I love Jack Wilshere. Really love Jack Wilshere. Everyone should love Jack Wilshere. Jack Wilshere should really be the one with his own Chuck Norris-style Wilsherefacts page, much as I love Eboue.

A handball in the area by Denilson was enough to win Partizan a penalty which Lukasz Fabianski failed to save and suddenly we were level once more. Perhaps he looked at Almunia’s save and subsequent troublesome game against WBA and thought “Sod that for a game of soldiers, I’m letting this one go.” My half time mini-match report to a friend stuck at work summed up the match up until that point rather well I feel: “We were shite, then we scored, then we were brilliant, then they got a penalty, now it’s just kicking off again.”

Which is about what happened. The commentators, who would not shut up about our appalling away record in Europe seemed to be daring us to score in the second half, which we did in the form of a Marouane Chamakh header in the 71st minute. Partizan’s goalkeeper had done well to single-handedly keep them in the match up until that point (oh yeah, AA23 had a penalty saved too), so it was nice to finally put another past him.

With regards to our away form in Europe, as far as I can remember our last three matches were Barcelona, Porto and Olimpiacos. Yes we got battered by Barcelona but as they went on to win the Spanish league and we were without most of our players for the game, you can hardly call that a disgrace. Prior to that we lost to Porto 2-1 then went on to humiliate them 5-0 at home thus rendering the first leg irrelevant and prior to THAT we played a very young team at Olimpiacos knowing we were already through to the knock-out stages. Our away matches in Europe were hardly season definers last year is my point. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know, I just think it’s a stupid thing to keep talking about.

Our third and final goal came from the head of Sebastien Squillaci in the 83rd minute, which totally confused me as you couldn’t really hear our fans. It was a case of “Is it in? Did it count? He’s smiling… it must be in. Oh it’s in! Yay.”

Late on, Kieran Gibbs pulled down Ivan Stevanovic (the foul taking place outside the area, but whatever) to award them a penalty which could have thrown a right spanner in the works. Cleo stepped up to take it and Lukasz Fabianski, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, went the right way to keep the ball out and to keep the scoreline at 3-1. His celebration after showed just how much it meant to him and we all have to be pleased for him. It’s so sad to see him mess up time and time again when Wenger clearly has such faith in him. For now at least, it had paid off. Shortly after he made another great save to keep them out once more.

It’s sad that we’re surprised when an Arsenal keeper makes a great save, but as long as he’s making great saves I’m keeping schtum. If he faces Chelsea on Sunday, you’d far sooner he was coming into it off the back of a match like last night’s than a match like Wigan last year.

Having glanced briefly over the other matches played last night, we’re lucky we got to watch this one because the others seemed to border on snoozy.  We sit top of the group with six points now (Shakhtar are also on six, but our goal difference keeps us topper than them) and they are six well-won points.

This was a good match to aid the recovery of the team after the weekend and although some players were still a bit off (Alex Song STAY WHERE YOU ARE), it was a decent win in a buzzing atmosphere with little support from our fans (not dissing the support of our fans there, they were great… I just mean they were outnumbered by the home support, which was immense… major propz to the Gooners who did make it to Serbia innit, ya get me?)

We now look ahead to Chelsea. Cesc might be back, Vermaelen definitely won’t. I think we can win it. It’s about due. I know no one’s feeling confident but hopefully the boys will be geared up from last night’s win and also still ashamed of their performance last week. This is a winning combo I feel! Hopefully the boys do too.

6 Comments

  1. Treez
    2464 days ago

    I always wondered why they wrote Genesis and then all these years later it comes in handy for your blog. Clever.

    I thought last night’s team was a bit of a hotch-potch and they didn’t make it easy for any of us to watch. But, as he mostly does, Arsene got it right in the end.

    As you say, Jack was fantastic and I would have made him Man of the Match.

    I’m also pleased for Fabianski – he did ok and if he has to play on Sunday, at least his confidence has had a boost.

    Far from our finest hour but at least we took the points.

    Reply

  2. MoHoops
    2464 days ago

    Hey, nice post, just wanted to say there’s so much of the same ol’ same ol’ on the twit-arse world these days. Your tweets however are a pleasant surprise, refreshingly entertaining! Keep it up..& come on arsenal!!

    Reply

  3. Mooney
    2464 days ago

    As an avid reader of Arsenal blogs and analysis, I enjoy reading witty and whimsical pieces – so I will endeavour to follow and comment on yours more often, because you seem to show more insight maturity than some other blogs I can name.

    One thing I wish to point out that a lot of people miss with regards to our defensive problem, is that it stems from a psychological problem rather than lack of ability. Sure Almunia and Fabianski have made mistakes, but name me a goalkeeper who hasn’t? People have such short memories. Van der Sar got caught trying to outfox Henry at Highbury in ‘04. Petr Cech flapped at a Fabregas corner at the Emirates in ‘07. Tim Howard was caught in no man’s land when we won 4-1 at Goodison in ‘08. Pepe Reina OG’ed this season.

    We laugh at other keepers when they slip on the metaphorical banana peel, but we don’t afford our keepers ANY generosity. It’s pathetic, and it only heaps more pressure on our present group, which in turn infects our back-four. A back-four of Sagna, Squillaci, Vermaelen and Clichy could keep a clean sheet against any team. Fabianski has the potential to be a great keeper for us, but our supporters are intent on destroying every shred of his self-confidence. Anyhow, focusing back to what I was saying before.

    Any humble student of organisational psychology will tell you that organisations succeed when led by those who respected and trusted. In football, nowhere else is this more crucial than at set-pieces. Any wonder why we leaked 40 goals last season when our most senior defender was one William Gallas? A lot of fans have totally bought the theory that it will all be solved buying a commanding keeper at the back. Wrong. David Seaman and Petr Cech are proof that you don’t need to exert influence over the defence to be a success.

    We need our defenders to step-up and organise themselves. This is why Chelsea’s defensive unit is such a formidable machine. All Petr Cech has to do is to guide them and while they take up the rest of the slack. In our case, Vermaelen and Squillaci (when he settles in) are our two defensive leaders. I’m certain Vermaelen would put Song back in his place shielding the back-four.
    The future is good as long as we get behind our keepers. Whether we do is another matter.

    Reply

  4. Le Winger
    2464 days ago

    I totally agree with you:
    (Alex Song STAY WHERE YOU ARE),
    PLEASE!
    I hope Arsenal players will be the gunning knights on the bridge this Sunday.

    Reply

  5. Alan
    2464 days ago

    You got the flavour of the match about right, Siany. Any European away points are always well-earned, so to get all three was very satisfying.

    Reply

  6. Rob Fuller
    2463 days ago

    Well summed up me thinks!!always enjoy your quirky analogy’s – genius genesis piece there!

    I’m very pleased for Fab and like you say, I’m glad he’ll play Sunday with confidence high following this game.

    I reckon he may risk Cesc on the bench and bring him on if he has to. The current reports are a bit of kidology and mystery from AW to keep Carlo’s bum twitching. (I hope).

    Anyway, looking forward to an ecstatic blogpost from you following our win at Chavford Bridge on Sunday!!

    Reply

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