Date:Tuesday September 4 2007
Knitting and Embroidering. While watching the Arsenal play this Sunday, this were the two things that came to my mind, but for the first time they had nothing to do with the exquisite skills of my grandmother. The movement, control and passing were one of the best I've ever seen from an Arsenal side, while the commitment of every individual was at its highest. The togetherness and the spirit displayed by the Arsenal 11 since the start of the season is a joy to witness, and even Gary Lineker squeezed out some compliments for the Arsenal.
Almunia - 7.5 - A very, very confident display by Manuel Almunia. If he continues this way, Jens won't be getting a sniff of first team action, and Barca will be looking to replace their vastly overrated goalie that is Valdez. Almunia deserves nothing but well done, as 3 years of patience, hard work and a few blunders are behind him and he seems to be willing to grab his chance by the throat. Could do nothing about Kanu's (fluke) goal, and the only negative was a shot from Utaka parried down the middle of the box, which Taylor blazed over under pressure from Kolo, a shot that should have been palmed away to the side. Keep it up Manu.
Flamini - 8 - Unbelievable. Is this the same Mathieu Flamini, and if yes, what has he been drinking/eating during preseason? I want some of that too! His RB performance was even better than his displays at LB a couple of seasons ago when he slotted in while Clichy and the **** were out. Controlled overlaps, precisely timed tackles, and great touch and passing. Ran for MOM very very closely.
Clichy - 8.5 - For the first time this year the left side of Arsenal looked equally good in attack and defence, and this due to the impeccable cooperation of Tomas and Gael, supported by the imperious Gilberto. Highlights of the day was his cross that Diaby somehow managed to misplace and the interception that lead to our penalty. THE best LB around as Rocky mentioned, and I hope Domenech gives him a chance.
Kolo Toure - 8 - Kolo played another outstanding match - this time excelling in his leadership role. Numerous times he led to troops with his exemplary performance that was complemented by some very vocal displays of passion and desire. It was Kolo who played Kanu offside when Phil got sent off.
Senderos - 7.5 - The red card was inevitable and turned out to be a short-term good decision by Senderos. Pompey failed to score from the resulting free kick and we won the game. This is not the 1st time he's taken one for the team, and I really like that in him. The only problem is he'll be gone for 3 games now, and we're getting thinner at CB by the game. On the other hand, Kolo was gaining ground on Kanu and it was not certain that our ex-forward would surely score as he was never a prolific scorer. Still can't hold this one against him. Shame he won't be able to build on this solid display any time soon. Sent off in 49' (professional foul).
Gilberto Silva - 9 - My man of the Match. Since he's back, I am more relaxed than ever. I won't go into describing his role in Cesc's freedom, reading of the game, interceptions, tackling etc. I will just mention a moment when Clichy was bursting on the left past Rosicky, Tommy was not in a position to defend, we lost the ball and it was lobbed towards our empty left flank. Empty? Nope, Gilberto was there to collect.
Cesc - 8.5 - just so Gilberto gets MOM. What can you say about a player that plays his heart out every match? Although not the biggest on the pitch, his presence is more than felt. His intelligence accompanied by fearlessness and desire to win make him a more complete player than Xavi ever was. I don't remember why he received a booking approximately on the hour mark, but hey, who cares! Great reaction for the goal and the assist. And he is only 20!
Alex Hleb - 7 - it was obvious he was suffering from a virus, but despite this he managed to stay on and give his all. He released the overlapping Flamini a few times and worked Hreidarsson and Taylor to death on our right side. Subbed by Neves Denilson in 61'.
Tom Rosicky - 8 - He toyed with Johnson and Lauren, ran his Arsenal socks off, and scored a very intelligent goal which he celebrated in passion. His corners were excellent as balls came in with great pace and Cesc made Pompey pay after they initially blocked Bert's header.
Ade-Bayor - 7.5 - Was that our lanky forward that slotted the penalty with such confidence or was it Luis Figo? I expected Gilberto and I really was holding my breath until I saw the cool man score. Much better display than the previous one, one could see that he has his fitness level up. What annoyed me is that he made great runs and combined sweetly with Rosicky and Cesc numerous times only for the final ball to go where no one could reach it. He tried the crosses from left side with his right one too many times for my liking and chose the more difficult route on a few occasions. Subbed by Eduardo on 79'.
RvP - 7.5 - Much better link up play with Ade this time. His free kicks are still off (a few Pompey lads must have felt sore after the game too), but he displayed unselfishness and great degree of maturity when leaving someone else to take the pen (Ade) and a couple of free kicks (e.g. Toure). It tells me that he is aware that he feels and recognizes that sometimes others can do a slightly better job than him, although he is perfectly fit to do it himself. Subbed by Abou Diaby on 70'.
Neves Denilson - 7 - excellent display this time as he tightened the midfield when we were down to 10 men, closed down space and helped everyone believe that it was Pompey who were a man down, not the Arsenal.
Abou Diaby - 6.5 - everything was awesome but the 0.5 is because he missed the unmissable. Otherwise he was as effective as Denilson in preventing Harry's troops to make their man advantage count.
Eduardo - not rated - not enough time, but tenacious and lively as usual.
As the evil forces of internationals cloud the world of beautiful and eventful club footie, I have but a prayer that the Arsenal's soldiers return safely to their home at Ashburton Grove so thay can continue where they left off.
I like to see the initial phase of the season as a period in which not everything is clicking, not everyone is on the same page and the new arrivals are still settling and finding their feet. It is a period as important as any other during the season, but if what I said in the first sentence of this last paragraph turns out to be true, well, teams should be sh*tting their pants.*
*note: Sp*rs players do not take this literally and stay away from Italian food. Thank you.
Date:Tuesday September 4 2007
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