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Gunners' Stun Steaua

I suppose it depends what you look for in the beautiful game, but I must say I have been surprised by the lukewarm appraisal of our performance in Romania. There really was only ever one team in this game, I thought Steaua, whilst stoic and resolute, look scared of us and I never doubted that we would win this game. Indeed, the commentators in the closing minutes of the game were waxing lyrical about our style of play being atypical of your hard fought, ugly Eastern European win. But suddenly changed their minds at the final whistle and decided that we had won ugly.

I suppose I'm just not used to the fickle wants of the average commentator, watching Arsenal on television is a bit of a new phenomenon for me. Unfortunately, my match reports for our away group encounters will all offer a view from my armchair. Having just secured a new job, I was hardly in a position to request leave in my first week for this one! But I'll be back jet setting again for the knockout stages, rest assured!

Arsenal set their stall out for an early goal, and as Steaua packed their midfield, they appeared to neglect defence, leaving Adebayor and van Persie to wreak havoc on the backline. As early as the third minute, Hleb jinked past his full back and delivered a cross which landed at the feet of van Persie, who I fancy was tripped in the area in a furious scramble. ITV4 did not provide a replay of the incident. But Bucuresti looked game and fought fire with fire, a pinpoint cross from Surdu on the right saw Toure get sucked in at the front post, leaving Badea with a free header. Fortunately, his composure deserted him as he got woefully underneath his header, shouldering the ball over the bar. Two minutes later, the home side appeared tot ake the lead, Nicolita's free kick was headed in from close range by Surdu, but the winger was a good yard offside, Toure this time stepping up with confidence and precision. The decision to make him captain in Gallas' absence looks to have been a good one, despite my pre season protestations. He has realised a new sense of responsibility and is now looking every bit an organiser and motivator. We already knew he was a top class defender, but the armband has added another string to his bow. I hope that sense of responsibility does not diminish once Gallas returns and he relinquishes the captaincy.

Arsenal responded to the scare positively, propelling forward on the counter attack, van Persie beautifully feinted his way around Baciu and drove in a low cross which Hleb controlled on the back post and squared for Fabregas, who blazed over with the goal whimpering at his mercy. Arsenal began to assume control after a haphazard start, their dominance briefly broken by a low 30 yard drive from Dica which whistled narrowly wide. Thereafter, Steaua appeared to shrink into their shell, expecting the inevitable Arsenal goal. Adebayor looked very dangerous with his pentrative running over the top, the home side merely resorting to hacking the ball aimlessly upfield at every opportunity. Some intricate play on the egde of the box from Robin van Persie played in Emmanuel Adebayor, but he elected to pass when the shot would have been better, Bucuresti managed to clear. Arsenal's momentum gathered as they searched for a goal before half time, Fabregas found Clichy in oceans on the left after some crisp passing in the midfield, Clichy's cross was deflected goalwards, but Zapita just managed to prevent it crossing the line. Just two minutes later, Arsenal were once again on the edge of the Romanian box, Fabregas playing the ball into Flamini, he turned and shot but his effort was clawed away.

The Gunners' didn't get their goal before half time and looked to have taken their eye of the task for much of the second half. Hleb appeared to tire, and Fabregas' passes were uncharacteristically misplaced, though his constant foraging forward gave the home side plenty to think about. It was a Fabregas free kick that gave Arsenal their next opportunity, flighting in another concise delivery from the left which Adebayor looked certain to head in, but couldn't quite stretch his neck muscles sufficiently enough to make contact. Zapita missed his punch, but luckily for him the ball stayed out via his wavering legs. It was a kind of accidental scorpion. Steaua once again redoubled and nearly scored a minute later, Almunia came out of his area to clear a long ball with his head, the ball landed at the feet of Dica who lobbed a long effort towards goal, but the ever vigilant Kolo Toure was back on the line to avert the danger.

This marked probably our sloppiest period of the game, bar the probing running of Adebayor, Arsenal looked insipid and the home side had their tales up. This almost culminated in Bucuresti in the lead, Dica's ball saw Iacob about a yard offside, but the assistant amazingly waved play on. Iacob looked about as comfortable as a virgin in a brothel as he staggered towards goal, attempting a daft chip from twenty yards which never troubled the goal. Arsenal took the hint and five minutes later, Hleb played Adebayor down the left channel, the Togolese striker attempted a cut back to Fabregas, but the ball sloped behind him and onto van Persie's left foot. There was only ever one result and the Dutchman deftly curled the ball into the top corner with a mixture of precision and power. Steaua simply did not have the minerals to attempt a comeback, so Arsenal indulged in a little keep ball. Adebayor's spin and shot saw the Gunners' nearly double their lead late on, but the damge had been done and Arsenal had achieved a perfect result coupled with an accomplished performance. It's probably a measure of how well we're playing at the moment that people seem to be filing this under 'playing badly and winning.' I felt that this was not our best, but a very decent away performance. We dominated throughout, looked solid at the back and got a deserved win. There's not really much more you can ask for.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday October 3 2007

Time: 1:32PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Whilst Steaua were not great, they did have moments of danger, and as I've already said on more than one ocassion this season, this is a game we would not have won 12 months ago. Terrifc stuff once again. 3 points on Sunday see's us go into another international break on a massive high!!
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03/10/2007 13:38:00

Great performance by the team, very compustore and Toure in the back was perfect, BTW is no Zapita but Zapata, he's from my country, Colombia. It's good to see more players from my country in Europe, I will love to see one day one playing in the best team in the world, ARSENAL. Sorry for my English
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03/10/2007 14:06:00

That was a balanced, detailed and realistic summary of the game LD. I guess for some of us the fear still lurks at the back of our minds that the problems of the last couple of seasons, where we dominate play and draw or even lose to the one half chance we might give, may manifest themselves. But there is a genuine difference this season - the team believes in itself and because believe they will score before the end of the game they do. If you were watching the same TV broadcast I was then the coverage and commentary didn't flatter the game. The cameras seemed to dwell far too long on individual players, the bench, the crowd and others while play was going on elsewhere. It gave a bitty impression of the match at times. Still a good win and weak opposition or not it seems we are still the first English side to win there. (Cue nationalists!)
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03/10/2007 14:10:00

Sidenote: Did anyone else notice the Steaua stadium announcer felt it nessacary to play "The Champions!!!" at super high volume at random points in the match, and then about 30 times on the trott after we scored?
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03/10/2007 14:16:00

The possession ratio was 65%:35% in our favour, not strong enough evident that we did not win ugly?
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03/10/2007 14:21:00

Yes I noticed that Rocky - maybe we can look forward to random performances of 'The Wonder of You' at the Emirates - or a Chas 'n' Dave tune at WHL?
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03/10/2007 14:28:00

Rocky - yeah i wondered what the hell that was about, they'll probably get fined for it. Joe, let's not create a debate out of nothing re 'ugly' - why should we care what people think? It's Arsenal, we won, that's all that matters.
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03/10/2007 14:28:00

Exactly.....3 points, and only a win maybe 2 from qualification!!!
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03/10/2007 14:33:00

People keep saying about the difference with us this season compared to the previous two, we can fight and win games we previously wouldn't have etc. The one thing that still worries me though, that hasn't been tested yet. How will we react when we lose? I hope we have changed. We've never had a problem when we have confidence, but in previous seasons we could lose confidence too easily. Still a great result last night. Tope of both tables :) Where we belong.
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03/10/2007 14:44:00

I don't think it was winning ugly by any means, we had our patches of nice Wengerball and it was never gonna be a walkover, but like i said on the previous post Job done. And yeah shoot the feckin soundman that was well annoying, thing is everytime the ***** played it Steaua came on the attack - it was like a signal!!
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03/10/2007 14:47:00

'The champions' theme playing every two minutes was pretty funny but my favorite bit was when the Romanian TV crew filming the match decided we needed a montage of some of the Steaua players about 30 mins in... the commentator sounded as confused as me! Classic
kenny lunt
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03/10/2007 14:53:00

At least they had more of a crowd there than at Stamford Bridge lol.
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03/10/2007 14:56:00

Apparently the fans - were there more than 3000? - were protesting about the autocratic-cum-bully owner and the ticket prices, so good on them... Hopefully we'll never need to make a stand like that at ours! Back on the pitch though, the games against the mancs, scousers and chavs can't come soon enough -bring'em on!
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03/10/2007 15:24:00

"The Champions" theme's chorus was being played every time a goal is scored (in the CL obviously).
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03/10/2007 16:57:00

Entropy beat me to it, but yeah the anthem was played to update scores. On another note I agree with LD on his match critique for the most part. Steaua never really looked like they were going to score and I was pretty confident that we were going to break them down eventually. The only times they really threatened to score, was brought about by our own defensive lapses. The bad marking on the kick, the failed offside trap (or actual offside I didn't see a replay), and when Almunia couldn't clear properly. However, as LD mentioned I thought some of the passing was very bad and we gave the ball away too much for my liking against an obviously inferior side. The last thing I thought (and LD didn't mention so I'm not sure if he agrees) was how shaky Almunia looked. He made a few bad decisions in the game and was lucky not to be punished. I thought his attempted at a headed clearance was awful and he's lucky to have Toure. Also, the head back from Clichy almost put Steaua through as he didn't deal with it properly. I personally thought he should have come and claimed the ball, but seemed to lack the communication. Anyways those are just my thoughts but I'm happy with the result, since as everyone has pointed out were we abysmal away from home in the CL last year.
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03/10/2007 17:41:00

We deserved the win, and it was not at all ugly. Hard fought, certainly and there were clearly 2-3 moments in the game where Steaua had good/decent chances. The comment on the virgin in a brother to describe Iocab's effort was hilarious, and apt at the same time. We could have scored more, Cesc and Ade missed 2 really good chances. The defence looked solid and Senderos looked like he had a good solid game, which should do wonders for his confidence.
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03/10/2007 20:59:00

I never for one moment that we would lose that game. We played with so much control, getting the balance right between being competitive but relaxed as Wenger points out we need to be. Although we have tough games against Liverpool, Man Utd and Chelsea, they won't exactly be relishing meeting us in this form. So what do we reckon guys? Are we really going to win something this year?
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03/10/2007 21:14:00

i don't want 2 make pre judgments yer gooner_vin but certainly if we continue 2 perform this way then we ll win something, bushido333 hopefully we ll go through the whole season unbeaten and then we won't test the team's reaction 2 a defeat.
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03/10/2007 23:58:00

Any win is a good one in CL. Not televised here in Oz: had to put up with Manure. Had to watch Christiano get a headwound, but felt good about it. Is that wrong????
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04/10/2007 04:05:00

Just read Gilberto's comments on As much as its been great with Flamster in the middle, I can't help but feeling for Bert. Not only does he not get the captaincy, which I think he deserverd, he also finds himself out of the first 11. I have a feeling that with Flamster, Diarra, Denilson and Diaby already here, Bert might decide to leave at the end of the season.
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04/10/2007 11:04:00

id like bert around another 2 years
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04/10/2007 13:33:00

I feel for Gilberto too because he's a nice guy and a top pro, both of which are borne out in his comments on the site. But the team must always come first and stand before sentimental reasoning. The fact is, Flamini cannot be dropped in his current form, that would be very harsh on him and Gilberto is humble enough and good enough to fight for his place.
Little Dutch
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04/10/2007 22:16:00

I'm hoping Gilberto stays. When he is on the pitch, he hardly puts a foot wrong. Only Flamini's dazzling form and choosing to serve his country at the Copa America are keeping him out. He had been phenomenal for us and I'm a little disappointed he didn't get the arm band but Gallas and Toure have done well.
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04/10/2007 22:22:00

I feel (Wengerish) that he'll definitely be off in the summer. But has a lot to offer us this season - same with Lehmann. There'll be lots of twists and turns this season my friends, just a feeling, but this one won't be for the ones with blood pressure problems!
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05/10/2007 09:43:00

Congrats on a great start to the season lads.Im a big admirer of your club and the way you play.I suppose its easy as we aint in competition but well done again.Hope you go all the way and shut up the other 3.
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05/10/2007 12:01:00

Cheers Bremner, very sporting of you. Take it you're a Leeds fan??
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05/10/2007 18:49:00


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