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Team News: Arsenal v. Partizan

Arsenal Starting XI: Fabianski, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Gibbs, Nasri, Song, Denilson, Arshavin, Chamakh, Van Persie (c)

Arsenal Bench: Szczesny, Rosicky, Vela, Theo, Wilshere, Eboue, Bendtner

Partizan Starting XI: Stojkovic, Savic, Krstajic, Lazevski, Jovanovic, Medo, Petrovic, Babovic, Moreira, S. Ilic, Cleo

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The Journalist

Writer: Brice Coffer Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 8 2010

Time: 7:17PM

Your Comments

Sigh... you must feel for the young man, poor Gibbsy...
Great prospect, but Gibbs is ridiculously injury prone
Who else cringed after Robins landing on his knees celebration?
haha ajwb, when he jumped in the air and made it clear he was going to land on his knees, I actually yelled out 'NOOOOO!'
I cringed. I don't think anybody is better at taking penalties than van Persie. Left, right, low, high, I've seen him hammer it to all sides of the goal. We've missed his penalty mastery several times this season.
We are awful tonight, gifted a penalty by a stupid tackle in the box but other vice we are creating little to nothing. Totally lacking creativity at the moment and RvP looks like he is either injured or extremely unmatch fit. i can still see us loosing this game as Belgrade only need the final ball to get behind our defense and we know how badly we can defend at home, still we may pick up in the second half.
.....then he goes for that tackle, stays down a while and seemed to realize fans were holding their breaths and got to his feet again. Why does he go into the tackle when he knows he is feeling his way back?
Armory, this game could go on all night and Partizan will not score. Arsenal will win this game as we haven't even gone into 2nd gear yet.
The team needs to play a controlled game and that is what we are doing. The game on Monday is also something to don't want injuries or burn out this game.
Need to make a substitution. This formation is not working at all. No creativity in midfield.
Naijagunner..........famous last words THEY will not score!! Hope you are right but to be honest I would not be surprised and hope you have not put a hex on us;)
Boom. Anyone surprised?
Yeah I cringed too! D@mn what did you say Naija??? That's exactly the complacency we're guilty of! Argghhhh
Take RvP off and send Jack on in stead that will give us more creativity. RvP is not match fit yeat.
I'm not surprised. It looks like Partizan will never score, then you remember Partizan is playing against this Arsenal team.
Huh AA off??
Theo x10
Well done Theo, he's been lacking in confidence since his return from injury, hopefully this will give him a boost
Bayern,Barca,Real or Schalke? Fingers crossed for the latter,i'm thinking Real
WTF?!??!?!?! We must appeal this red card, ridiculous!!!
That is a red card all day long. Clear goalscoring opportunity. I shudder at the though of Eboue against Europes finest.
ptv- you mean that same Eboue who played RB for us all the way to the CL final before Sagna got here?
Yep. Except he's nowhere near that form this season.
Armory, yeah..yeah!
As long as we avoid Barca, that's the best we can hope for.
Eboue will stand up to the test; he has about 2 months to get his head right for it.
I have no worries about Eboue as a right back he has played there often and done well it's when he is asked to play in left of midfield defense were he is a liability
Koscielny didn't show stability and was shaky for most parts. The nerves get to him? That is why Djourou is the man for the OT game.
He He Naijagunner I thought you were after putting a hex on us;) thank heavens Wenger got the reight people on and changed things around.
He hasn't been in the best of form this season, but that just makes me thing that by February he'll be playing better. Let's not forget that in the last half of last season, one could easily argue he was playing better than Sagna.
We need the Verminator back but i am starting to agree that JD may well be Vermalens future partner, either him or Kozzer but I'll tell you if we defend like this against manure they will beat us.
Right there Armory. Very nervy stuff, though it was. Timing of the changes and 2 goals was just perfect because there is nothing to say we don't concede another with too much time to go.

It will seem we can either get the German or the Spanish sides in the next stage (Madrid, Barca, Bayern or Schalke). All tough draws.
Bayern for me please I think we have a better chance against them than Schalke
dont think you lot will be going very far in the CL this season, better off concentrating on the premiership
I like Van Persie's confidence in his interview.... he wants Barca or Real. I hope his optimism spreads throughout the team
well guyver we are in the last 16, after that its one game at the time.
Agree with Armory. The collective defensive play is poor and we seem to defend so high up the pitch that one pass can tear big holes in the defence. Not too optimistic for OT I am afraid not to mention Barca in the next round!
I don't think Robin seems too comfortable playing this 4-4-1-1 set up. He seems a little unsure of exactly where to be at times and often dropping too deep to really be effective. And yes AJWB, when he dropped (or rather seemed to leap) down onto his knees during his celebration I felt my heart in my mouth... why? why? why?
grouville, I'll rather take the attitude that ManU has a lot to be worried about playing against us. We have a fearsome strike force that should put fear into any backline; with Sagna, Djourou and Clichy playing; Song staying disciplined alongside JW or Deni, our defense should be steadier (Squillaci will be targeted for his pace, I think. Miss you, TV). Nasri will pepper Vidic and Rio no end. We should be fairly confident that over a 90 minute period, Arsenal can't lose that game.
I wish we could play Chelsea now rather than Utd...
I know what you mean lou, it always seems like we get utd and chelski when they're in form...
Agree Naijagunner.. Man U are not going to keep 10 men behind the ball at OT which is the only time we really seem to struggle. Man U will push forward leaving gaps for us to exploit with pace and conviction. With our defence still looking a little shady (I hope Djourou is fit) the game really will be a case of scoring more goals than they do because there will be goals, quite a few I think. Just watched the highlights and Fabianski sooo had that shot covered if it weren't for the deflection. He looks better every game
Probably our worst performance of the season. The 4-4-2 stunk the whole evening out. AA and Nasri glued to the wings where they couldn't influence the game with two deep midfielders, RvP in fairness to him was playing a role he's never played before and Chamakh was completely isolated. Sticking with the formation for the whole 90 minutes was excruciating. The important thing is that we're through, but that's about the only positive really. A poor performance against a poor side.
Little Dutch
Strange season. We are in the last 16 of the CL all be it as runner up, in to the semis of the league cup with a more than good chance of reaching the final and winning it and currently top of the league. Yet i have walked away from more home games this season than any other thinking what a rubbish performance and more worried about our defensive frailties than ever under Wenger
Spot on LD. It's a testament to Partizan's pantsness that it was indeed our worst performance, yet we've also churned out home defeats against Spurs, Newcastle and West Brom this season. It really was a poor display and any half decent team would have punished us. I seem to say it every game but I can't believe how little Chamakh gives us at home; he had yet another bad game tonight. Sagna was terrific, and his crossing has improved tenfold (but please don't tell me it was always top notch because that would be a lie) which is making him into a very complete player. The red card is a shame, and while he was unlucky in the sense it was far from cynical, he can't really have any complaints. Is it one or two games he misses? I believe it's the former, and being at home first, that may not be too bad. Should we draw someone like Barca, I'd much rather have Sagna at the Nou Camp when we'll need to focus mainly on shutting them out. Overall, a disappointing evening despite the result and subsequent progression. However, the fact we barely got out of second gear bodes well for Monday, as the boys should be fresh. But you never know with this team - we're just as likely to be knackered after 20 minutes and being on the end of a Rooney field day.
Spot on paul. I cant help but think were looking very shaky at the back and had some pretty woeful displays this season. Don't think we have even got out of first gear let alone second. I sit down and say to my self "we seriously need to improve if were going to win anything this season"....yet like you say.... Semi's of the CC, top of the League and through the CL group stage. I should be bouncing off the walls but Im not!?
Partizan know how to tackle though. Always stayed on their feet and taking the ball off the toes of Arshavin, Chamakh and RvP all night. That aspect of their game was good. The art of tackling is alive and well in Belgrade it seems. Nobody seemed too certain of the pattern of play up front - who should be running where and when. Except perhaps Nasri. Both Arshavin and Chamakh had as poor a game as they've had anytime this season. Thought we might have created more but we always looked crowded out in the final third. The goals came in the end though. The only way they were going to score was from a set peice or a deflection. Sod's law that the only goals they scored in the CL were against us - then again half the goals they conceded were in the games against us too.
Yeah, lets not 4-4-2 again, i think Wenger was just testing the water with Chamakh & RVP on the same pitch. I'm not sure how it will work without pushing RVP out to the left, then you're losing AA or Nasri ...i think we're best to do AA-RVP-Nasri across the front, as useful as Chamakh has been, he's not RVP
Job done again. Top of the league Semi-final of the Carling cup Knockout Stages of the UCL Leeds in the FA Cup Club in crisis??
In fairness to Arshavin, he was the only player who looked like he could split the defence and create an opening. But the 4-4-2 didn't allow for him or Nasri to come inside, it was far too rigid a formation and I am flabbergasted that the manager stuck with it for the whole game.
Little Dutch
And I don't think you can bemoan the misfortune of the deflection. The ball had to travel a long way and Cleo had an absolute acre to get that shot away. Too often teams only need 1 shot to score against us. Far too often for it to be referred to as sod's law.
Little Dutch
If they do only need one shot against us to score then sod's law seems justified enough. We shouldn't have allowed them the shot but Squillaci was still unfortunate that his attempt to block a shot from a fair distance out was deflected away from a keeper that might have saved it. I don't think you can justify Arshavins pretty shabby performance entirely on the formation. Nasri would have been similarly constrained but still managed to keep the ball and go past players - even when he moved over to the left to accomodate Walcott. Even Walcott managed to do so more readily than Arshavin could. RvP wasn't as mobile as Cesc or Rosicky would have been playing the same role but the formation wasn't vastly different from the one we usually play. Whatever the formation a good part of the problem was that both Chamakh and Arshavin in particular couldn't adapt their play and were just pants on the night.
My point with Arshavin was that, though I accept he had a bad game, he still produced one or two of the night's best moments (the pass for Nasri in the first half was the only time in the first 70 mins we cut through them). Nasri looked pretty ineffective too and Chamakh playing as a lone striker at home was never going to work. Particularly when van Persie is asked to play a completely unfamilar role when he's not quite fit. The point is, the formation not only didn't allow us to get the best out of our forward players, it actually actively restricted them from doing so.
Little Dutch
It was an unfamiliar set up in some ways but the only real difference was the inclusion of RvP and an extra 'holding' midfielder if we have such a thing. Arshavin is a good enough player to have had some good moments but the fact remains that his pass completion was less than 50% making only 18 successful passes out of 37 attempted and he lost possession more than half the times he tried to take someone on - that didn't have much to do with the formation. Nasri created more goal attempts than Arshavin did even in the first half, completed way more passes (84%) and beat his man 70% of the time. Much of what we created in the first half came from Nasri and Sagna down the right. Even when Arshavin was taken off - entirely justifiably as he was that bad (Eboue has been booed for much less) Nasri looked far more threatening down the left side than Andrey had managed to be all game. Arshavin's a great player and I accept that he usually carries a direct threat that a number of other players don't but this team performance had as much to do with individual performance as it did with the formation and while not alone, Chamakh was also poor, Arshavins performance was way below what we might have expected at this level. It's a team game but Arshavin was more of a weakness in last nights game than any other player.
Again, I think that's quite a lot to do with the fact that Arshavin always tries to do something decisive. He did last night too, it didn't come off more often than not. Nasri's stats will likely look more impressive if he's shunting the ball the ball five yards to his left, whilst Arshavin tries defence splitting passes. You said yourself a few days back that Song's pass completion rate is likely to be lwoer this season now that he's trying to play the ball further up the pitch. I'd say the same about AA. I thought AA and Nasri turned in similar performances but in different ways. It would have been interesting to see how AA's performance, or the impression of it, might have differed had Gibbs stayed on and he had a natural outlet to his left that Eboue looked uncomfortable with providing. Chamakh wasn' great but was all alone for most of the night, it was difficult for me to think of what he could have done differently. Not easy playing a five man defence on your lonesome and a bit senseless when your most effective penalty box striker is playing vaguely, somewhere in the midfield, kind of.
Little Dutch
Nasri had 19 forward passes, Arshavin attempted 21. Most of Nasri's were for Sagna, which proves why most of our threat came from the right. Only 2 of Arshavin's 21 were for Eboue. He didn't have an overlap and had to look for Chamakh and van Persie further up the pitch. He didn't have a good game it's true, but I don't recall many times where I couldn't see and didn't approve of what he was trying.
Little Dutch
The pass completion rate for most forwards is lower than a holding midfielder for example because they are having to make passes in more confined areas and depending on the player attempt more ambitious passes. But not usually anything like as low as Arshavins and it's not as though this was the first tight defense (though I think Partizan were much better defensively than they're being given credit for) that he has faced. We can compare his performance in this game with his performances in others and say with some certainty that he was way off the mark for reasons of individual failure. Plenty of simple passes failed and the ball was taken off him far too easily. It was mainly the things that he could do as an individual that let him down not the absence of a genuine LB or other formation change. It was his decision as to what passes he attempts but the bottom line is that Nasri created 3 goal attempts and Arshavin none. I really don't see that Samir's and Andrey's individual performances can be seen as in anyway comparable. If Arshavin had turned in anything like the contribution Samir made we would have performed much better overall. Samir was much more effective in almost every aspect. Arshavin is a good player and I've no doubt that will tell in the future as it has in the past but last night he had a stinker. Chamakh usually plays up front on his own doesn't he? I thought his main problem was that he was less on his own than usual and was confused as to what positions RvP might be taking up. He'll adapt to these differences in time if they're repeated often enough just as certainly as Arshavin will have much better games.
I felt both Arshavin and Chamakh suffered in that respect with the system. Chamakh usually has two wide men that drift centrally and help him out, the 4-4-2 doesn't allow that nearly as much. This team certainly aren't used to it enough to work out how it does. Arshavin is a player whose talents are much better utilised when he can drift centrally and play those killer through balls. Being marooned out on the wing with little support didn't help him in any respect. I think the more flexible 4-3-3 would have allowed him to drift in and play those through balls. It didn't. He had to stay out wide and out of the way. I'm not saying he played well, most of what he tried didn't come off. But there was sense in most of what he did. Often he was crowded out and not helped by the lack of a willing left back. Stats are insructive, but so too is the pattern of the game. Partizan had three on one on our left. It was two on two on the right.
Little Dutch
Nasri managed well enough on the left when Arshavin went off. He also managed to drift centrally to score 10 minutes after. Chamakh had gone off to be replaced by Bendtner but essentially still in the same formation.

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