Schalke 2 - 2 Arsenal
On the fourth matchday of the Champions League Group Stage, Schalke & Arsenal battled it out for top spot. Schalke topped Group B with a one point lead just ahead of the Gunners, who travelled to Germany struggling for confidence after a poor performance at Old Trafford.
Arsenal started the game tentatively. Schalke were pressing well with Farfan & Affelay on each flank, and our midfield trio of Arteta, Cazorla & Wilshere were looking jaded. Yet again Arsenal were struggling to get the ball forward, and even to retain possession.
In the 18th minute, a defensive error from Schalke allowed Olivier Giroud to go through on goal. The scene was set for the Frenchman to get his first ever Champions League goal for Arsenal, yet he somehow managed to kick the floor instead of the ball. Theo Walcott, bursting with confidence, pounced on the chance, rounded the defender and slotted the ball into an open net.[quote_right]”The second half was nightmarish from a footballing point of view. Arsenal had clearly set themselves up to hold on to the lead instead of increase it…”[/quote_right]
The goal was certainly against the run of play, but perhaps thats just what Arsenal needed.
The Gunners were starting to look more lively, and just ten minutes later, Giroud played the ball out wide to Podolski, who turned his man to put in an excellent cross. Giroud had made a good run into the box and finished off the chance with a diving header.
However, just before the half time whistle, Santi Cazorla, who had been misplacing passes all game, slipped to give away possession. Schalke’s Holtby passed brilliantly to Huntelaar who lashed the ball into the bottom corner. Typical.
The second half was nightmarish from a footballing point of view. Arsenal had clearly set themselves up to hold on to the lead instead of increase it, and it reflected in our pitifully negative play. Yet again, Schalke were in charge.
As the Germans bombarded our box, it was obvious that Arsenal needed an outlet. We couldn’t keep the ball and our front three were looking tired. Unsurprisingly, in the 67th minute, the ball fell to Jefferson Farfan in the box, who was left unmarked by Thomas Vermaelen. He struck the ball towards goal, deflecting off Vermaelen’s leg on the way in.
Arsenal had given away a two goal lead. Any morale boost obtained from the first two goals was cancelled out, and the Gunners yet again looked scared to create any chances. Most, if not all challenges were being won by Schalke, and Arsenal looked like a side in desperate need of some offensive creativity and defensive solidity.
Eventually, Santos & Coquelin were subbed on for Podolski & Wilshere to shore up the defence. Schalke continued to press Arsenal, but the game had run its course. A late chance for Theo Walcott was saved, and the referee blew his whistle.
Arsene indicated via his substitutes that he was happy with a draw. And with a performance like that, I can safely say that I’m ecstatic with the poorly earned point.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
MOTM. A good night for the Italian. Made some important saves and commanded his area well. Good to see him making his presence felt. Kept the scoreline down.
Wasn’t troubled too much by Affelay, but failed to get forward with any real purpose.
Outdone by the movement of Huntelaar at times, but looked solid in the challenge.
Did his job well enough, no mistakes. Should certainly start whilst Kieran Gibbs is out.
Did well at left back, but still hasn’t regained his classic style of aggressive play. Left Farfan unmarked for the equalizer. Needs to get his mojo back.
Did well to cut out passes and dictate the play in a constricted midfield. Did well defensively all game.
Did his best to create space and made good forward runs. Not supported well enough by his colleagues. Subbed.
Anonymous. Failed to link up with Jack Wilshere at all, and created absolutely nothing going forward. May need a rest.
Worked hard in the first half and did brilliantly to assist Olivier Giroud. Subbed.
Oozed confidence yet again. He pounced on Olivier Giroud’s missed opportunity for the first goal and calmly finished the job. Could have got a winner.
His goal was fantastic, but his overall game was below par. The rhythm is certainly coming, but seems to be taking it’s time.
Santos [N/A], Coquelin [N/A]
[title]A Point Not Proven[/title]
Arsenal were in dire need of not just a good result, but a good performance. With shabby defending and a severe lack of creativity, the Gunners yet again failed to deliver. It took a defensive error for Arsenal to break the deadlock. Luckily, Schalke were not as prolific as they were in our first meeting, and failed to take their chances.
Arsenal still have a lot to prove, and it looks as if it will have to be done at home to Fulham this weekend. Defence, midfield & attack all need rejuvenation, and quickly. Here’s hoping.
What did you think of the Schalke Vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below.