Anderlecht 1 - 2 Arsenal
After a poor performance against Hull, it was time for some Champions League. Arsenal fans would have been quietly confident tonight, despite Anderlecht being domestic champions.
Unfortunately though, The Gunners themselves weren’t looking convinced.
They started sluggishly, and stayed that way. Anderlecht were looking far more dangerous on the ball, and despite a few sparks of creativity from Sanchez, Arsenal were looking dire.
“I struggled to remember a moment where I was even remotely excited about Arsenal being in possession.”
Starting poorly is something Arsenal are prone to, so I was expecting it to right itself before half time. But it didn’t. When the half time whistle went, I struggled to remember a moment where I was even remotely excited about Arsenal being in possession.
This carried on into the second half. In fact, it was Anderlecht who were looking far more likely to score - and that’s exactly what they did.
In the seventy-first minute, a cross from the right found Praet at the far post, who was able to head the ball into the bottom corner. Chambers should have been marking him.
It looked as if Arsenal were going to lose this one. Anderlecht’s goal was expected. But I did not expect what happened next.
“A cross from Chambers found Gibbs at the far post this time, and the Englishman finished exquisitely…”
Well, I say “next”, but it took until the eighty-ninth minute. A cross from Chambers found Gibbs at the far post this time, and the Englishman finished exquisitely. He sidefooted the ball first time, stroking it into the far bottom corner. Arsenal were level.
Suddenly, it was all systems go.
After some frantic play, the ball found its way to Sanchez in the box. the Chile man found space and whacked it towards goal, where it was blocked - but only to the feet of substitute Lukas Podolski. The German was just a couple of yards from goal, and made no mistake with the finish.
The whistle blew a short while later, and it was Podolski who had saved the day. An undeserved result, really, but I’ll take it nonetheless.
Arsenal Player Ratings
Had little to do, and could do nothing for the goal. He did drop the ball at one stage though, which was worrying.
His passing wasn’t very tidy today, although his cross for Gibbs’ goal was excellent. He was clueless about the whereabouts of his man when Anderlecht scored, and didn’t look too solid at the back to be honest.
Won his headers and looked comfortable enough. Very slow to react when a Anderlecht shot rebounded off the post one stage, though.
For a relatively non-physical left-back playing at centre-back in the champions League, I’ve got no complaints. Did a job.
Looked sloppy at times and didn’t defend as well as he could have. But his finish? Any striker would be proud. Plus, it was an extremely important goal.
Proves game after game that he isn’t cut out for it anymore. He doesn’t read the game well, his passing isn’t great and he does a poor job of defending the back line.
Smashed a perfectly good opportunity high and wide in the first half, and never really got it together thereafter. He was involved in a fair few attacks, but none of them produced any goods.
After Sanchez, Wilshere was probably our best player on the night, particularly in the first half. He tried to make positive moves and was finding space very well.
A passenger at times. His passing wasn’t great, and he didn’t make any of his usual runs into the box. Hopefully his form will return with his fitness.
Sanchez: [8/10] - MOTM
Just like against Hull, Alexis dragged Arsenal through this game. He was the only bright spark in the first half, and was heavily involved in Podolski’s winner, as well as in pretty much every Arsenal attack.
Really disappointed in Danny today. Looked sluggish, didn’t make the most of his chances, and showed off a touch which is chillingly similar to Adebayor’s. I like Welbeck, but today highlighted how much Arsenal miss Olivier Giroud.
Joel worked hard again today, showing off some tidy passes and positive runs. He deserves to start a game.
His only real contribution was his goal, which I would expect any player to score, but that’s neither here nor there. He was in a good position, and therefore grabbed the winner. He looked a little more lively tonight, too. Maybe he deserves another start?
Saved By The Pod
Make no mistake, Arsenal were crap tonight.
Anderlecht were supremely comfortable for large parts of the game, and before Gibbs stroked his goal home, I didn’t expect anything more than zero points.
Yet, the boys managed to grind out a win - and an important one at that. That’s commendable.
Welbeck was the blunt stick with which Arsenal were trying to rip Anderlecht apart with. I’m generally a fan of the Englishman, but he showed tonight that he isn’t capable of holding up the ball or linking with the midfield the way a certain other man can. Olivier Giroud.
As usual, sanchez was the man with the plan, and he played a big part in Arsenal’s win tonight.
But I won’t brush anything under the carpet here. We were bad tonight, and we have been bad all season. Something has to give.