By 1970’s Gooner
It’s usually the other way round. Arsenal dominate, fail to score and at the end fall to the sucker punch. This was the story of Arsenal last season and it repeated itself in the friendly against Salzburg in Austria a few days ago. This time for the Emirates Cup PSG dominated the game in the first half but wasted the good chances they created. Arsenal promptly took a couple of theirs and it was practically game over.
An interesting aspect of the two goals Arsenal scored is that they both came from high balls crossed into the box. Something unusual for Arsenal. The main reason was the presence of Bendtner who with his height and physical strength provided the outlet for such a tactic to be employed.
And it was noticeable that this was the intention from the beginning of the game as the midfielders and central defenders were all too willing to send the long ball in from deep onto young Nicklas head.
Fort the first goal he chested, what was to be an assist, onto Flamini’s path who promptly sliced it into the net from inside the penalty area. For the second he rose above everybody else to head a well taken corner by Denilson and then pushed the ball into the net from the resulting fallout. When was the last time Arsenal scored from a corner? I don’t remember!
Clearly this gives Arsenal another important option in their usual quest of trying to break up packed defences. The long ball from deep straight into the heart of the opposing defence does not give them enough time to reorganize and get everybody behind the ball.
Something that was happening all too often last season when Arsenal’s built up play was too concerned on weaving pretty patterns and as consequence rather slow.
Arsenal dominated the second half mainly because Wenger corrected the unbalance he had created by his team selection for the start of the game. The team had no width as two central midfielders, Diaby and Flamini, were played on the flanks. The knock on effect was that the central midfield was not at its usual best as Denilson, up to then, was not having the best of games.
This double negative was reversed when Diaby returned to his natural position. He then put in another strong performance. He is the new Vieira and even better! Hleb was also moved into a roaming role in midfield which helped Arsenal dominate even more.
The introduction of fast and penetrative wingers albeit Eboue and Clichy on either flank allowed Arsenal to be more thrustful and free flowing which pinned PSG back for most of the second half. This resulted in the creation of many chances and the penalty which was duly missed by Bendtner!
It looks to me that Eboue, who gave a very good performance on the wing will form part of the pool of players who Wenger will be considering for this position. Is Wenger about to abandon his search for another wide midfielder? The others will be Hleb, Walcott, Rosicky and Eduardo, especially if another forward is brought in before the deadline.