Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Arsenal: Ominous?

Time for some trademark pessimism

November has begun in traditionally rank fashion with a familiar Eastern European capitulation from the Arse. The one positive note was Walcott's goal, uncannily Henryesque. Wilshere knocked the ball into space for Theo after Arsenal had, shock horror, successfully defended a set play, and the rest was very impressive indeed. Walcott comfortably left the Shakhtar defenders puffing in his wake and placed an early shot low past the keeper.

As Arsenal's scorer admitted afterwards, however, Shakhtar could have been out of sight by half-time. They spurned a couple of glorious chances before Arsenal reverted to the all-too-familiar self-destructive mode. It is a sad hallmark of this side: they do not make the opposition work hard to score.

First, Eastmond headed into his own net from an admittedly vicious in-swinging free kick. This was followed, on the stroke of half-time, by yet another goal-costing gaffe by the liability that is Gael Clichy. He fannied about when he should have just been clearing the ball, was robbed, and Eduardo placed a nice first-time finish from the low cross.

On the face of it, the result is no disaster. Arsenal still top the group with nine points and one more win would secure qualification. Absentees included Fabregas, Denilson and Song. When you consider that Diaby and Ramsey were also unavailable, it's a wonder they were able to field any kind of midfield.

But poor results, even in relatively insignificant games, can sometimes dent momentum. Let's hope that's not the case. The next league game is a distinctly winnable one at home to Newcastle... but what happened last time Arsenal had a soft-looking fixture at home to a promoted team??? Yeah.

Newcastle have Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi, two in-form bruisers. Carroll in particular strikes me as a man to cause the often feeble Arsenal defence all manner of problems. Obviously, it's a game Arsenal ought to win well, but only if they bring their best and don't succumb to their habitual nemesis- an unearned complacency.

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