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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Two factors worked against Arsenal’s youngsters facing experienced Milan


By 1970’s Gooner

I was very impressed with Milan’s defensive organisation and technique. They were always positioned correctly to defend the long balls from Arsenal’s back line and also the crosses to Adebayor.

They were also well drilled into defending their area when Arsenal went into that mode of passing the ball around probing for an opening, trying their one twos and generally trying to pass the other to team to death.

Milan’s average age was 29 and Arsenal’s was about 24. So I was expecting that Arsenal’s youth will in the end force Milan’s ageing team into submission. But this became evident only in the latter parts of each half were Arsenal gained almost total superiority.

But two factors worked against the young pretenders.

The first was the nervousness that seemed to engulf Arsenal’s players. They seemed a little bit overawed by their opponents, who are after all the Champions of Europe.

As such a lot of the first half performance was characterized by misplaced passes and snatching at shots. Arsenal could not find rhythm which is so important for teams who play a passing, patient game.

The second was the inadequate performance by Eduardo.

It has been said before of course.

You can’t carry passengers in the game of football.

And Eduardo’s input and effectiveness during the game was way below what we have come to expect of him lately.

The result was that tactically the team was slightly unbalanced.

There was hardly any decent play and penetration from the left side which Eduardo was detailed to occupy, especially as Hleb was venturing infield.

And of course Adebayor did not get as much support as his play deserved.

These two factors were corrected in the second half.

Adebayor somehow looked a lot more threatening when Bendtner replaced Eduardo. The nervousness also went along with the hand break which released the free flow football which the young guns know how to play well.

Fabregas along with Flamini and Hleb regained control of midfield and Eboue along with Sagna started to provide meaningful penetration from the right.

Most of Arsenal’s chances were created from that right side and Walcott who came on for Eboue in the closing minutes of the game provided the perfect cross for Adebayor to hit the bar.

Alas it nearly proved enough but it wasn’t to be.

The return leg is now very delicately poised. Obviously Milan have a slight advantage as they are playing home. But they will have to be a little bit more adventurous and this is where Arsenal have to be patient and wait for their chance.

If the forward line especially Eduardo and Adebayor are up for it then I can see Arsenal snatching a goal and a triumphant qualification.

But the focus now is the Premier League and the Birmingham game.





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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

You've made many valid points. Eduardo however, is not a winger. He may perform well on the flank occasionally against weaker teams, but last night he was playing against an Italian team filled with defensive talent. He was wasted in that position, and Wenger was perhaps too conservative in trying to shoehorn a predatory striker into an uncomfortable position.

I also wonder about the tactical decision to introduce Walcott in the 89th minute. He almost set up a winning goal, but 89th substitutions make no sense unless you're trying to wind the clock down. The boy should have been given at least 10 to 15 minutes in order to make an impression and stretch the Milan backlin, which I believe was the entire point of introducing him!

turbo said...

#1... u said it all...but i think with RVP and rosicky returning we have a better chance

Chris said...

im confident that we can go through. hopefully robin and tom rosicky will be back
any1 remamba da last tym we went to da san siro
heres a reminda
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pcCoCnXurU&feature=related

Anonymous said...

Why are neither Senderos or Gallas in your MoM vote? After all the most important thing was that we didn't concede an away goal, and both of them were very solid.

Anonymous said...

If every player was fit, who would you play?

Because they way I saw it, Senderos is now playing better than either Gallas or Toure.
Also, both Walcott and Eboue tore them apart with ease. So did Flamini, and Fabregas. Lehmann played as well as he could've, I can't see how Almunia could have been better. See what I am getting at here? There could be a real change in our first team...

Anonymous said...

Completely agree 100% with that last comment. I was at the game last night and yes Eduardo is an preditor, but he did work hard for the team. And again i agree with your Walcott point, he needs 10 mins at least, he's so quick, Maldini would have struggled!!

I have total belief in Arsenal to beat milan at the San Siro!!

Anonymous said...

I think Arsenal has a great chance at the San Siro, with or without Rosicky and RVP. They should've won last night, and although many expect them to be punsihed for their wastefulness, this is not the Arsenal of seasons past. Milan is vulnerable.

Wenger really needs to pay attention to Arsenal's squad depth; I think the supporting cast is good, but the players are perhaps too young and/or inexperienced. Arsenal needs good squad players and Arsene has been somewhat negligent in that regard. He is perhaps paying too much attention to developing youth players, who in turn are too green to CONSISTENTLY contribute to the first team. With the profits Arsenal have been pulling in, this is unfortunate and unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Some Arse fans can be so ridiculous. Walcott has suddenly become such an impact player that not bringing him on early is a managerial gaffe. Hold on, wasn-t there this great chorus about how he wasn-t good enough as recently as 2 weeks ago?

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear. Eduardo had a very good game last night. The amount of work that he did helping out Clichy was immense. It is completely ridiculous to try to blame him for the fact that we didn't win. Fortunately, Wenger understands the game a lot better than a lot of our supporters! The biggest disadvantage with playing the first leg at home is that you are tempted to go out and try to win the tie in the first 45 minutes; you usually end up losing it then. Arsenal played a very sensible game and consequently are still in the tie. The work that Eduardo did to help protect our left flank made a big contribution to that.

I can't disagree that Walcott probably should have had a few more minutes but his recent performances have not suggested that he would have been a better option than anybody. If he had played like he did against Tottenham, we would also probably be out of the tie now.

Anonymous said...

I think this is very harsh on Eduardo. He wasn't at his very best but I certainly wouldn't call it an especially bad performance.

Senderos was great last night (once again). There's something about him and the knockout stages of the CL which seems to work so well. If Toure isn't back for the second leg I'm very comfortable with him playing. He's back to his best again and when he's at his best he's a really important and useful player. In all honesty I think it might be wise to try and make room for him to play more regularly so that he doesn't always look so rusty when he gets those odd games if Gallas or Toure gets injured. What I mean is consider Toure our second choice RB and LB (I know he's right footed but so is Gallas and Toure would have no problem there) and chuck Senderos at CB whenever either of our fullbacks are injured. I mean you could use Toure just for RB and Gallas just for LB but either way I think that would generally solve the problem that we don't have good enough replacement fullbacks and give Big Phil the games he really needs to be at his best since it wouldn't be that uncommon for one of our back 4 to be out, instantly giving him a game.

To be honest I wouldn't want to be in Milan's shoes for the next game. I consider us favourites considering they didn't get an away goal. It's a shame that we don't go into the game with a lead, especially considering Ade's late chance, but the chances of us scoring are pretty high I think and if we should score first Milan are going to have a lot of work to do to turn it around. Also if we do score first they will have to really push forward which is ideal for us. This scenario reminds me of our CL final run all over again. Don't get me wrong, we might go out, but I think we'll do it if we defend as tightly as we did last night and take whatever chances come our way. And let's all not forget the result last time we played at the San Siro! It's got to be a good omen :D

Anonymous said...

I just dont seem to understand why everyone is so "Negative" about the return leg? I mean we outplayed Milan! Could you imagine 15 - 16 shots against the euro champions? We were outstanding and considering the fact that we might have Rosicky and others back. I believe Milan knowing that one goal can kill them, they will be very very careful and I see Arsenal scoring and winning. Who cares if they are so good? If we are ruthless, we can do anyone! Comon YOU GUNNERS!!!

orangunner said...

i don't agree with you because we should have won but for Ade's waste chances. first, he terribly squared the ball to Fabregas that wasted a wonderful one on one opportunity and secondly he missed the open goal in the dying seconds. we were full of confident and dominant the game even when Eduardo was still on the pitch, especially at the beginning of the second half Milan were beleaguered for quite sometime . i don't think Eduardo's performance was that bad but for the formation Wenger use. he might choose 4-5-1 for the reason we could get a home clean sheet at least. actually it's not a bad result at all. anyway, if we really want to point out a factor that would be only luck to blame.

Anonymous said...

WOW! my take is a bit more simple. I think Milan won the mind game - every one talking about how experienced Milan is and how good defensivley they r, so what happens? The Gunners get too anxious therefore rushing their shots. I do not believe this defensive greatness that most seem to have seen because Arsenals chances were clear cut. A little more composure in front of the goal and we will and would of killed this team!

Be Blessed!

Isaac said...

chill the f**k out, people. We didn't concede a home goal which, as Wenger said, is most important. Eduardo was a calculated forteiture. Imagine if the score is 1-1, we're finished. But now, just 1 goal at San Siro and we can sit back as the old men need 2 goals to qualify. Good result I say.

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