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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Arsenal 5 - 1 Shakhtar Donetsk, Big Jay stakes his claim

Another comfortable win last night against seemingly second-rate opposition. I have to say I don't think Arsenal played particularly well last night. I watched the match in full when I got home last night and I begin to think that I watched a different game live. Sky were raving about the way we played and how good Jack Wilshere was. Personally, I felt that the flowing football was not quite so evident last night, and that Wilshere had one of his quieter games (despite scoring with a delightful finish). Chamakh worked as hard as ever up front but his first-touch was lacking at times, though yet another goal meant he continued his fine run in front of goal - scoring in a sixth successive European Cup game is a record, incidentally. I was pleased to see him get another rest in the last twenty minutes, but couldn't understand why Bendtner didn't replace him, with Walcott on for Nasri, rather than the introduction of Arshavin out wide.
It was good to have Cesc back last night, but I felt his presence actually slowed us down for once. The skipper was starting to drop deep and demand the ball, which usually arrived to his feet as demanded. I hope this is not a trend that will develop, whereby the ball always go to him in every move - we had that with Thierry Henry and it stunted the whole team. Gael Clichy, meanwhile, had a far better game last night, but I have never seen anyone quite so clueless when he sees the edge of the opposition penalty area.
The match was rounded off in the grand manner, with the best goal of the game - but it wasn't scored by Arsenal. Eduardo had been afforded a fine ovation by the crowd when he was introduced as a substitute (at the same time as his great friend, Denilson - who looked sharp when he came on) but it was nothing compared to the reaction that greeted his goal. It is fair to say that, had the score been 0-0 at the time, the fans would not have been quite so generous! But, with the score at 5-0 Eduardo got a standing ovation, and the crowd called his name back to Arsenal's stadium announcer (for once getting something right with his crowd interaction). It was a truly wonderful finish, the type of goal we used to see before the injury. As in the Summer, I want to wish Eduardo all the luck in the World - God knows he deserves some.
The result last night meant Arsenal set a record for goals after three games in the group stages. That means little to me. However, what our three wins mean is that we are virtually through to the next round. The next task is to ensure we win the group, and a win in Shakhtar would secure just that, and a rest from the last two games for most of the first-choice players.

The Reserves were in action yesterday afternoon, as they played West Ham at London Colney. West Ham included seven recognisable names in their starting line-up and one of these, Julian Faubert, was sent-off. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas scored a hat-trick for Arsenal in a 4-1 win, and he continues to make a big noise to get himself noticed by Arsene Wenger. Carlos Vela also played in the game, but he was substituted after 79 minutes. With Emmanuel-Thomas banging in the goals he must surely move ahead of the Mexican before long - I would have him ahead of Bendtner as well. The fact that, with more players getting fit, we saw Vela left out of the first-team squad last night surely means he is on his final lap as an Arsenal player. It will take a dramatic turnaround in form and fortunes, I think, for him to be here this time next season. He will get another chance to impress against Newcastle next week, but I would like to see Bendtner and Emmanuel-Thomas as a centre-forward duo for the Carling Cup tie, with Vela and Walcott out wide. More of that to come early next week.

The North London care in the community project is at the San Siro tonight. Sky were up and about early to catch the window lickers express before it left Heathrow this morning and interview some of the Spurs fans. It would be wrong for me to not let one particular deluded fool have the last word tonight, as he gave his views on their game with Inter Milan: "I fink it'll be an English game, cos we're an English side, and they've got Rafa Benitez who's an ENGLISH manager." Intelligent bunch these Spurs fans.

More tomorrow.

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