There was some typical begrudgery after last night’s win with some pundits saying ‘Well, it was only Braga’.
It’s just another reason never to listen to pundits because the vast majority of them talk out of their holes. Are Braga a worse side than Rangers, for example? I don’t think so. Didn’t see United take them apart and stick six goals past them.
You can dismiss the opposition as weak, if you choose, but before the game Braga came with the reputation as one of the most improved sides in Portugal and with some pedigree having beaten Sevilla to reach the knock-out stages. To be fair, it was always going to go one of two ways. They’d arrive in London with no pressure and play out of their skins, or get overawed by the occasion, play a naive game and get thumped. Thankfully it was the latter.
That’s not to take anything any from us because we played some quite outstanding football. We came out of the traps quickly and should have had a penalty in the first couple of minutes. Cesc was taken down just inside the box but the ref played on. It was a taste of things to come from the captain. There was another half-shout for a penalty and then Chamakh was taken down by the keeper as he latched onto a Fabregas pass.
Up stepped our number 4 and powered home the spot kick. 1-0. Braga did look vaguely dangerous at times, looking to get down our left hand side but after a few initial sorties they faded away. Much of what they did that was any good came when we gifted them the ball and in the first half Andrei Arshavin was guilty of that on more than a handful of occasions. His passing was really very bad indeed. Yet it was no surprise that he scored the second. The Russian, for all his flaws, has end product and when Cesc danced through their defence and played him in he buried it low to the keeper’s right.
It was 3-0 at half time thanks to a Chamakh goal and a piece of brilliance by Jack Wilshere. Arsenal’s build up play was precise, as you would expect, and when it came to Wilshere on the edge of the box he played a flick through the defender’s leg with his standing foot. It ran for Marouane Chamakh and he notched his third goal in as many home games with a right footed shot.
It would have been easy for Arsenal to ease off in the second half, the game was won, but Arshavin had a bit more zip about him and looked to make up for his shocking first half. The fourth goal was a testament to the attitude of Cesc Fabregas. It looked as if the Braga defender had time and space to clear, he was closed down by Cesc who nicked the ball off him in the box, it came to Arshavin who looked and picked out Cesc with a fantastic cross. A simple header made it 4-0.
Arshavin hit the post then set up the fifth for substitute Carlos Vela who didn’t quite chip the keeper but lifted the finish over him all the same. It was Arshavin’s last involvement and it’s difficult to know what to make of him. He was truly rubbish in the first half yet ended the game with a goal, his third of the season, and two assists. You just wish he wouldn’t look so disinterested at times.
The sixth came late, a long Jack Wilshere pass over the top of the Braga defence found Cesc, he unselfishly played in Vela and the Mexican sidefooted home to wrap up the scoring for the night. It’s worth noting Vela now has more goals this season than in the whole of the last. Even when brought on in these kind of games he didn’t make any impact so it’s good to see progress. Yer man at Carlos Vela News must be creaming his pants.
Overall it was a fantastic team performance. I thought Jack Wilshere was absolutely brilliant. The young man is being asked to do a job which isn’t really his natural game. He’s tasked with a more defensive role and it’s to his credit that he does it with great discipline considering he’s just 18 years of age. He was always involved yesterday, was creative and positive when he needed to be, but time and time again dropped deep when required and was there to pick up the ball from the centre-halves. His best game for Arsenal thus far.
Chamakh has had such a great start to his Arsenal career too. Strikers need goals more than anything to settle in and while he didn’t come as a prolific goalscorer his record is pretty good – let’s see him nab one away from home now.
And what can you say about Cesc Fabregas? He’s matured into one of the finest central-midfield players in the world, a consumate professional and just a remarkable talent. He scored two yesterday, played the pass which won the penalty, gave assists for Arshavin and Vela and once again showed the right example to his teammates. Some might bemoan the lack of a captain in the Tony Adams mould, and I can see where they’re coming from at times, but all the other Arsenal players need do is show the same commitment and passion in each game that Cesc does and we’ll stand a very good chance of winning something this season.
Arsene Wenger made that point afterwards, saying players like Wilshere can and should learn a lot from him. Inevitably questions about the summer stuff came up but Cesc said:
I’ve always felt fantastic here. I’m very happy to be here
And Arsene Wenger said in his post-match stuff:
He loves this club. People doubted that but I never doubted that. He arrived here at the age of 16 and he enjoys the way we play and what more do you want than to be happy.
And I do hope at some stage this nonsense will stop. Regardless of what did or didn’t happen in the summer Cesc is an Arsenal player this season and he doesn’t look to me like a player who is sulking or not enjoying his football. I think, as well, as fans we’ve got to just start ignoring the crap from people who we know are just on a wind-up. It’ll make life much easier, trust me.
I’ve really got no interest in anything any of them have to say. When watching a game I watch the game. I can make my own mind up about what I see, as can all of you, so pre-match bollocks, half-time waffle and the post-game cuntery is all very much a thing of the past for me.
So, the great start to the season continues. In five games we’ve scored nineteen goals. It’s wrong to say the defence hasn’t been tested either because Blackburn was a test. They’ve had a relatively easy time of it in the last few games but Koscielny looks to be settling in very well, Squillaci was solid again and both full backs were excellent last night (one Clichy error aside). And although he had little to do Almunia did that assuredly.
What we do know, however, is that going away from home after a midweek Champions League game is never easy. Especially when you’re playing a team that hasn’t had a game. Sunderland away was a disappointment last season, the focus has to switch to that immediately and we’ve got to keep things going domestically. More on that game in the days to come.
Now, finally for today I’ve team up with my pal at Gunnerblog and designer David Rudnick to bring to you a t-shirt which is, quite literally, a t-shirt. It’s also good luck, the day we launched it Arsenal won 6-0. This is a fact and it cannot be disputed.
It is a limited edition, high quality shirt, only 250 were made, or will ever be made, featuring everyone’s favourite time-traveling, Belgian killing machine and centre-half. Click the image to take a closer look. The Verminator’s mission will be explained in a further post this morning.
To get your hands on one before they’re all gone, simply go here, click, and do all the usual check-out stuff, and soon a Verminator shirt will be winging its way to you.
Remember, in the Terminator films it’s the rise of Skynet that brings about the destruction of the world. SKYnet. This t-shirt could save your children from a world ruled by Richard Keys and Andy Gray.
Can you live without one? Can you take the risk of not owning one? I don’t think you can.
Once again, click here to purchase. For this blog for today, that’s about that. Tomorrow, I’ll be … erm … returning … erm ….