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Arsenal 3 Celtic 1

Arsenal 3 Celtic 1

With the matter of fact ease with which Arsenal negotiated the first leg and the comfort of a two goal cushion, this game always felt more like a precession than a contest. Scottish football is reeling in a financial straitjacket and the fact is that the Auld Firm sides are no longer as fearsome as their reputations suggest- this would have to go for the supporters too. Celtic`s fans were not even approaching the cauldron of vocal hostility portrayed by the media- to point out they comfortably out sung the home fans last night is to damn them with feint praise. Having seen them at close quarters in both legs, they really are no louder than any other set of home or away fans in the country. Those that complain about the lack of singing at Arsenal`s home matches would struggle to point to a set of fans in Britain with which to sketch a paradigm. Scores of empty seats were again visible throughout the game, though I managed to miss the first two minutes because around three quarters of the turnstiles in my "quadrant" were closed causing some uncomfortable bottle necking. Nobody ever did explain why. There again, I probably shouldn`t complain, one of my best friends went to Upton Park alone on Tuesday night- he never did actually make it into his seat in the away end, preferring instead to turn around and go home.

Pre match Wenger talked up the importance of the match, refuting suggestions that he would select his team with a wandering away gallivanting towards this Saturday. The fact that he left van Persie and Arshavin on the bench belied that suggestion. There would be further verbal Gerry-mandering to come from the manager later. I can only imagine as to how Myles Palmer would have reacted having seen that Arshavin F.C was left on the bench, I imagine he would have stormed out of the ground in a performative teenage strop- like a girl who`s just been told her favourite boy band has split up. Despite the fact that Fabregas, van Persie and Arshavin looked on from the outside a la Camus` Mersault, Arsenal always looked to strong for Celtic. They flexed their pectoral muscles in the eight minute when Denilson`s intelligent ball into the left channel found the metronomic Clichy bombing forward; he cut the ball inside to Eboue and the African Kaka in turn cut the ball inside to Bendtner who prodded towards goal, Boruc clawed the ball out and Eduardo slid in but contrived to guide the ball wide of the upright from close range. Arsenal began to rap hungrily on Celtic`s door again when Eboue played a one two with Denilson on the edge of the box, the Brazilian made a bee line for goal only to lash his shot into the side netting. The young Brazilian again controlled the midfield with ease, dictating the tempo, winning the ball back at will and recycling it effectively. Not that you`ll see any credit afforded him elsewhere.

The home side were clearly in the mood to put the tie to bed before the 9 0`clock watershed and when Diaby cut a swathe through the Hoops midfield and eased the ball into Eboue with his back to goal, Jesus` right hand man flicked the ball up nonchalantly, turned and arrowed a low drive just wide. The Gunners perma rotating front three was bamboozling the visitors, with Eboue, Eduardo and Bendtner all taking turns at spear heading the three pronged attack, Diaby slotting in behind as Fabregas had at Celtic Park. The Gunners` pressure did eventuate into a deserved goal, but in undeserved Machiavellian circumstances. Denilson slipped a ball into the channel for Eduardo, who touched the ball away from Artur Boruc and then belly flopped to the ground with the gracile air of a harpooned whale. Quite how the referee fell for such a poorly executed act of simulation I`m not quite sure, suffice to say I would advise the official to get someone else to take his car to the garage for his next MOT. Eduardo dusted himself down and slotted the penalty home in one of the more muted celebrations we`ll see this season. Post match the manager admitted it was not a penalty, but offered up the explanation that the mental scar tissue of Edaurdo`s injury might well have caused him to throw himself groundwards. This doesn`t quite square with Le Boss` pre match assertion that Eduardo`s demonstration of mental strength had given Wenger reason to believe the Croatian striker was now "A 100% completely normal player." For all of the smug, self satisfactory moral lecturing we might be tempted to dish out in the temperance of an easy victory, we must ask ourselves, if Eduardo were to do the same thing on Saturday in the 89th minute at 0-0, would we be wringing our hands, or punching the air with our fists? I know what I`ll be doing, and I know what you`ll be doing too. We`re all of us complicit, so let us not moralise too hastily, eh?

The Gunners continued to dominate, stopping just short of literally urinating in the Bhoys` penalty area in order to demarcate our territory. We appear to have fallen back in love with the swift counter attack again this season, a weapon scarcely utilised in the last three season`s of chin stroking and almost deliberately slowing the game down. Eboue led the charge down field elephant stylee, all ears flapping, and trunk waving as he marauded at the Celtic back four, switched the ball to Eduardo on the right hand corner of the penalty box and sending a swerving shot towards the top corner, only for Boruc to beat it out. No doubting the level of contact from Boruc to an Eduardo touch this time. From the resulting corner, Nicklas Bendtner out leapt Gary Caldwell but headed wide when he really ought to have scored. Half time and the three goal margin in the tie was flattering to Celtic if anything, though people may be tempted to point to the non existent entity of 'luck` in our goals to that point, the fact is, I cannot recall an Almunia save in either leg.

Arsenal began the second half in similarly dominant mood, though Celtic never threw the towel into the ring, their belief had long since left the building. Eduardo jinxed his way past two Celtic defenders only to horribly slice his shot wide on his weaker right foot. But a flowing Arsenal move would bring about the second goal on 52 minutes. Denilson again glanced towards the channels and played a smart ball into Bendtner (or B52 as he shall now be known); his impudent back-heel winged its way into Diaby`s path in the penalty area, he cut the ball back to 'Sniffer` Eboue, who manoeuvred inside one Celtic defender before lashing the shot past Boruc. The referee might well have been a Satanist, as Eboue`s revealing of his favourite Jesus tee shirt caused enough offence to garner a booking. Who are these ridiculous stuffed shirts who make these trivial, pointless rules? The powers that be won`t even discuss goal line technology, but lifting one`s shirt is apparently a cardinal sin. I would bet money the miserable, joyless excuse for a human being that made that rule could not even give you a decent reason for it. I would advise players to start getting offensive with the tee shirt slogans, you`re going to get booked anyway, get more bang for your buck. How about Eboue to reveal a "I Belong to Satan" vest upon his next goal? Or perhaps Emmanuel Adebayor could give the finger to his critics with a "If You Think My Attitude Stinks, You Should Smell My Fingers" tee?

I`m tempted to say that the game ceased to be a contest at that point, but in truth, that had been the case since Gallas` arse intervened in Eastern Glasgow. A third goal on the night was forthcoming however, Denilson was still willing to press Celtic high up the pitch, forcing Brown to surrender possession, substitute Arshavin quickly scented blood, moving on to the loose ball and turning it forwards to Ramsey, Ramsey played a return ball slightly behind the diminutive Russian, but Arshavin managed to turn his body in synchronisation with the ball and steer a low shot past Boruc for his first goal of the season. Celtic did manage to register probably the most aesthetically pleasing goal of the tie with its very last kick, Scott Brown`s right wing cross was met perfectly by Donati`s sliding volley, evading Almunia`s left hand and travelling in via the post. But in the end the difference between the sides was incredibly stark, with Arsenal keeping Celtic at arm`s length for the two ties. It was slightly disappointing again to miss out on the clean sheet and slightly disconcerting when Wenger revealed in his post match diagnosis that Arsenal don`t much worry about clean sheets as long as they outscore the opposition. This attitude is all very well when coasting 5-0, but it might become malignant and hit us hardest in tight games. But overall, we head into today`s draw and Saturday`s clash at Old Trafford in fine fettle.LD.

Team: 1.ALMUNIA(c), 3.SAGNA, 10.GALLAS, 5.VERMAELEN, 22.CLICHY, 17.SONG, 15.DENILSON, 2.DIABY (16.Ramsey '61), 27.EBOUE, 52.BENDTNER (19.Wilshere '71), 9.EDUARDO (23.Arshavin '71).
Unused: 11.v.Persie, 18.Silvestre, 24.Mannone, 28.Gibbs.

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Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday August 27 2009
Time: 10:13AM


Good write up LD. Celtic were comprehensively outplayed. However, I dont think its moralising to hope that Eduardo had not dived. He comes across as such a decent and likeable bloke that I didnt quite expect this from him. In that sense, it is disappointing. The media seems to be over reacting, but I wouldnt pay that too much attention - they are all ***** anyway. Eboue has had 2 good games in a row - one at RB and one upfront on the right. He is the most versatile player in our squad, and I'm happy that Wenger resisted the urge to get rid of him in the sumer. I was a bit disappointed with Diaby, although he did ok overall. I would like to see consistently outstanding performances from him, every time he steps out on the pitch - perhaps, that an unrealistic expectation.
27/08/2009 10:23:00
Great report as always LD. I would have expected you to have picked out Gallas' great bit of wing wizardry in the first half though doubtless Arseblogger will be happy to see it ignored. The re-emergence of our counter attacking game could be partly to do with the fact that we aren't conceding the first goal at the moment (though we seem determined to concede tha last) which means we aren't chasing the game as much as we have had to do at times last season. For that reason I think that Eduardo's dive was at a critical enough point to be morally reprehensible but of value professionally.
27/08/2009 10:34:00
Diaby's performance definitely dipped in comparison to Saturday. Gotta say though I disagree about the Celtic support, thought they were pretty good to be honest. All this Denilson praise, it's a very much a 'see, I told you so' that i'm seeing more and more of late, not many people said he wouldn't come good, he played well last night, but the main thing that may stick in people's minds is the needless free kick he gave away in the first ten minutes - he needs to iron that out.
27/08/2009 10:41:00
It is commendable to hold a moral high ground, displaying impartiality by condemning your very own on perceived wrongdoings. But why am I not feeling that this is being reciprocated by the fans of other clubs? Had the likes of rooney or gerrard (search youtube for numerous compilations of proven and actual diving feats performed by the duo) being chastised by their own fans and the media as well when they were caught diving? I looked at the replay no less than 8 times (yes I admit I'm wearing the "arsenal glasses" here), trying to find "evidence" that eduardo had not dived. What I saw was eduardo's right toes making contact with the keeper's right thigh - the impact of which and the possibility of it resulting in eduardo's fall/lost of balance, I'm not sure but I believe there was contact and it didn't appear as much of a "blatant dive" judgment as the media and fans (including our own) had made up to be. Of course, should eduardo subsequently come out and make an admission to the accusation, I’d appear to be the biggest fool of all. But until then, I’m going to give him the benefit of doubts.
27/08/2009 10:42:00
The media had been busy trying to convince all that our 100% start so far were due to anything from poor quality oppositions to opponent in disarray other than acknowledging that we do have the potential to not only stay in the top 4 but challenge for the title. This incident must be a godsend and I’m sure would be used to put the team down as we prepare for the OT clash. Would the team be mentally affected when they see their own fans turning against one of their own comrades? I can imagine the reception Eduardo (if he plays) would receive from the mau u fans when his name is called out and his every touch of the ball. But what would the reaction be from our traveling supporters, especially those who had condemned Eduardo on this very forum? Cheers? Silence? Or join in with the home fans in the chorus of boos?
27/08/2009 10:42:00
Nice write up LD, thank you. Just want to say well done last night to Denilson. He used the ball well, was always available and kept calm under extreme provocation. At 21, he is shaping into a helluva player. It was also good to see TV5 ' goal hanging ' with a few minutes left and turned in his usual quality performance.
27/08/2009 10:47:00
I have said for many yrs that we suffer for not ' drawing the foul'. This is what the media call it for any other team that dives other than arsenal. How many times have arsenal suffered for this in seasons gone by, Drogba is now the most 'ABLE' at conning the reffere, even tho an afgan grenade wouldnt make a scratch on him in reality, as soon as he feels the defenders breath on his collar he 'draws the foul'. done it for as long as he has been in the PL. ronaldo has now gone of for some sun, but he was the same, even englands rooney has done it against us at OT. BUT of course nothing was ever mentioned of this as it was in favour of manure and was the english golden boy that dived. Any way i digress, my point being that so many of the teams we play do this and we havent that we have suffered, when we have been drawing 0-0 and others have 'drawn the foul' and won 1-0 has deffinately cost us. im not saying it is right, im just glad it seems at last some eyes have opend and seen how many times it has worked for other teams and how many times it has cost us causing a huge gulf, that we are now doing something about it. when the officials of the game have no help or are generally to CR*P to realise what has gone on, a level playing feild must be found for the arsenal aswell, by drawing the foul also. well done for at LAST taking matters into our own hands to level the playing field.
blok112 row1 seat580
27/08/2009 10:54:00
Top shout blok112 row 1 seat 580. Well done Eddy and the boys. It's about time we joined in with ALL the other teams in our league and Europe. No more ' nicey-nicey '.
27/08/2009 11:02:00
i must say on a footballing note also, that i have certainly not been a fan of diaby in the last couple of seasons, he has been ok going forward as long as he hasnt had too much time on the ball or he starts to think and f*ks it up, but defensively has been awfull. so so so lazy in chasing back. it mayb down to the new system that alows him this freedom now but he certainly seems more willing this term than he ever has so far. keep it up and u could yet swing my oppinions of u abou. once again it mayb due to the score line and coincidence but we looked like we didnt have the same ummph after he went off last night and seemed like the game went a bit stale.
blok112 row1 seat580
27/08/2009 11:08:00
Great write LD, loved the little Eboue-isms! And I agree with Amos, we don't need to sign anymore creative players .... let's stick Gallas on the wing!
27/08/2009 11:17:00
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