Aside from the fact the ball did not hit the back of the net, that was pretty much the best performance put on by Arsenal at home this season. You may argue, quite rightly, that because the full time whistle blew with one instead of three richly deserved points that it was not a good performance. However, that ignores the fact that a supposedly resolute defence was ripped to shreds almost at will in the first half and for most of the second. Only once did CSKA threaten to break the deadlock, Jens saving well from Vagner Love.
I cannot recall the last time that an opponent was pounded so heavily for no return. I could list all of the missed chances but won’t, as it will take me most of the morning to type them and you the rest of the day to read them. Suffice to say that does not apply to Messrs Rosicky and Fabregas. How neither scored I know not and I doubt if they do. Rosicky could not pass the ball to ‘keeper in the same manner from the same position again in one hundred attempts. As for young Cesc, on a day when he should have been grabbing the headlines for his goal and nomination for the FIFPro Young Player Of The Year Award, he is getting some brickbats for missing. Having seen the miss again on TV late last night, I can only believe he lost his footing as he shot and that may be considered generous.
The good points about the display were that everything I have been banging on about, i.e. width, decent crosses being attacked, came to fruition with van Persie, Henry, Gilberto all connecting. The only criticism is the lack of goals and what can you do about that? More shooting practice – perhaps but frankly, I put it down to one of those nights. If 1966 had been like that, Geoff Hurst’s goal would have been disallowed. Playing wide on the left, van Persie had his best game of the season so far at home, providing a quality outlet and also supporting Henry well. Rosicky, Hleb and Fabregas moved and passed well but to no avail. Arsene was quite rightly pleased with most aspects of the game and to be honest, I doubt he is overly concerned with the result given that there are two games to go. It’s alright Arsene, leave the fretting to me…
It does make qualification a little more complicated. CSKA will top the Group with six points from their next two games, all Arsenal can do is ensure that they take six points as well to keep the pressure on. Ideally, the next round of matches will result in both Arsenal and CSKA winning 2 – 0. That would mean that Porto have to beat Arsenal by three goals to qualify, something that seems unlikely although is by no means impossible. The worst result of the CSKA – Porto match would be a draw, simply because that would leave Arsenal requiring a point – something they are capable of playing for but not ideal – whilst a Porto victory puts the cat right amongst the pigeons as that means Arsenal need a point in Oporto leaving everyone one on eleven points (assuming CSKA win in Hamburg) and Goal Difference as the eliminator as the Head to head results would be inconclusive.