Almunia does a Lehmann as Arsenal win again

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Arsenal scored their second win from two Champions League matches and continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-0 win away to Romanian champions Steaua Bucharest overnight.

Arsene Wenger’s side survived some scares, most notably a miscued effort by Steaua Bucharest substitute Victoras Iacob, before Robin van Persie won the match in the 76th minute, finishing confidently from Emmanuel Adebayor’s low cross. The Romanians put in a good effort at home but on the balance of play Arsenal were deserved winners. You can see all the highlights from the match here.

Despite the low scoreline both teams made plenty of good opportunities, including a disallowed goal in the opening minutes from Valentin Badea and an unbelievable miss from Cesc Fabregas from no more than six yards out only moments later. Arsenal may have been unfortunate to be denied an opening goal on 40 minutes when Gael Clichy’s deflected cross was carried over the line by Bucharest goalkeeper Robinson Zapata. Despite the protests of Adebayor the ball was adjudged not too have crossed the line by the referees, and even after looking at the replay numerous times, it is still hard to tell.

Van Persie proved to be the match-winner againA late, late winner

Things got a little bit crazy after half-time when Zapata saved from an Adebayor header quite unintentionally with his legs, despite attempting to punch the ball clear. Then Manuel Almunia went wandering out of his area and only avoided the embarassment of being chipped from long range by Steaua captain Dica when Kolo Toure scrambled back to head off the line. The incident immediately provoked memories in my mind of Jens Lehmann being chipped against Panathinaikos a few seasons ago.

Substitute Iacob should have won the match for Bucharest when he broke down the left-hand side, but in his attempts to curl his shot around Almunia he failed to make good contact and the ball scuffed over the bar. He was punished minutes later when Adebayor broke down the left for Arsenal and crossed the ball low into the penalty area. His centre was meant for Fabregas but the Spaniard missed it and the ball fell to van Persie who smashed home his finish into the top left corner to seal the points. The Romanians had put in a good fight, but as Wenger commented after the game, Arsenal were deserved winners after generally being in control of the match.

“Steaua defended very well and we couldn’t find the openings, so we had to show patience. The turning point was maybe when [Iacob] was clean through and missed because I thought we were in control from then.”

I actually thought that this was a very good performance from Arsenal. Apart from a couple of scares I felt that they were in complete control and fully deserved the 1-0 win. Adebayor, Fabregas and Alexander Hleb were a constant threat throughout the match and van Persie showed again how important he is to the side with his second deciding goal in as many matches. While things looked a little flat at times on the weekend against West Ham, this was certainly not the case against Steaua as the attackers were able to carve open the Romanians defence on a number of occasions.

Kolo Toure has been awesome so far this seasonDefence must get credit

Tellingly, this is the fifth match in a row that the Arsenal defence has kept a clean sheet. Credit must go to the likes of Kolo Toure, Manuel Almunia, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and the sometimes uncomfortable Philippe Senderos for this achievement. A lot of people have been talking about Manchester United’s superb defence but Arsenal’s record is just as good and they are doing it while playing flowing, attacking football. The energy of guys like Clichy and Sagna to get up and down the flanks is just astonishing and I truly believe that Arsenal possess the two best full-backs in the Premiership at the moment.

Then there is Kolo Toure. He has gone relatively unnoticed so far this season, but Toure’s performances have been nothing short of sensational. With Gallas out injured he has had to step up as the captain and chief organiser of the defence and has done this with great effect. The effort to get back and clear off the line after Almunia’s error was something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before and gave a perfect example of just how well he is reading the game at the moment.

In summary, another three points and another solid good performance from Arsene Wenger’s side. What’s more, they will travel home from Romania in the knowledge that another win at home to Slavia Prague in the next Champions League will all but put them through to the next round. Before you go, spare a thought for Steaua manager Massimo Pedrazzini who, as I mentioned yesterday, is set to lose his job after the loss to Arsenal. Ouch.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal’s win in Romania by leaving a comment.


21 thoughts on “Almunia does a Lehmann as Arsenal win again

  1. it was a professional perfomance and i knew we will win and score around the 75th min mark, just had a feeling.
    the thing is its good we still not getting the media coverage as today morning it was about man utd, let it be that way, we will do our business quietly and deadly.
    the pressure is still on chelsea, liverpool and man utd.
    not many people expect us to win things but us gunner fans are loving this and so be it.
    i know it has taken a few season but it is worth the wait to see kids growing into men and world class footballers.
    am happy about arsenal and arsene proving people wrong but we still got loads of games to play for and the mentality of the players is brillant, taking game by game dont over look.

  2. “not many people expect us to win things but us gunner fans are loving this and so be it.”

    Tell me about it! I’m loving this and I’m sure the rest of you are too!

  3. Yes,of course Arsenal is definitely marching on and we shall keep on marching till we succeed in Jesus name,Amen.

  4. All arsenal fans are enjoying this season and we are all laughing ta United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spuds. Another win, another clean sheet, another great finish and we win in Eastern Europe. We were the 1st English team to beat Madrid at the Bernabeu and we are the first English team to beat Steau in Romania. A great time to support The Arsenal, i must also say Senderos, Fabregas and RVP played a brilliant game and am looking forward 2 watchin them play agaisnt sunderland. SF – how do u enter the E-magazine fingy.

  5. I like and fully support your comments Gunnershabz,

    “Lets do our business quietly and deadly”

    Kudos to Adebayor and Senderos.Eboue will be okay but as seen from the Westham game he needs time to catch up. He got a good chance to score against them and blundered infront of Goal.

    I believe Wenger could be grooming Flamini to take over Gilberto’s mantle now that rumours suggest that he is set to leave in January.

    Otherwise, the young guns are maturing to FULL GUNS and we expect more fireworks on Sunday when we meet Sir Alex Ferguson’s student – Roy Keane.


    GO GO THE GUNNERS!!!!!!!!!

  6. I Like your comments Gunnershabbz

    We will do our business quietly and deadly….

    The media still can’t believe in the young guns who are just about to mature to FULL GUNS and shoot the so called title favourites.

    I like the way Cesc, Flamini, Adebayor, RVP, Clichy, Sagna, Toure are handling them (teams) as we tackle and gun them one by one.

    Eboue will be fine and will come out of his shell. Walcott should start playing as a Central striker and come in as a substitute when the game demands.

    On the overall Roy Keane is trying to assemble his old Man U buddies to Sunderland and i know they will fight and try to show what they are made up of.

    I predict Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1

    NB: Senderoswas my man of the match yesterday. Sincerely speaking these young guns need games and more exposure to fully DETONATE.

    GO GO GUNNERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Arsenal went away in Europe,Largely dominated and won.If we are looking for teams to lie down like Derby did then we will be sorely dissapointed.I for one am exstatic because we got the three points.Its a mark of champions to be able to get results in places like that,Hleb had a great game no matter what anyone says.We’re unstoppable,A win is a win,we got 3 points.All in all good performances great results.
    Arsenal may move for striker Frederic Piquionne of Etienne.PLUS two of this players(January)Jean-Alain Boumsong(Juventus)Diego Capel(Sevilla)Samir Nasri(France)

  8. Jay – You can enter the eMagazine competition by leaving your idea here. Make sure you leave an email address as well so I so I can get back to you if you win. Cheers.

  9. Thanks for the great comments guys. Just to let you all know I’m putting down a cheeky fiver on Marseille to beat Liverpool tomorrow. I know it’s a long shot but at $11 and with Marseille possessing the best team in France at the moment I think they’re a decent chance. 😀

  10. Hi, Spanish
    Love the blog. Wasn’t sure about the redesign, but I am pleased to say I have come round to it. Still think it could do with a little more colour…
    Anyway, re Toure, I agree he has been fabulous this season. I guess it’s because Sagna is at right back, so Toure doesn’t have to do any fire-fighting on that side and he can concentrate on his main job. Also great to see that Senderos had a good game.

  11. I really like Toure and all that he has done at Arsenal. If only Benitez bought a proper defender like him, then again he could do a Wenger and convert one of his (new) midfielders. That said, I love what Arsenal does for football and it’s so light years away from the Graham days. Great result!

  12. I love Toure, i believe he is our best defender, even beta than gallas but Sendy needs credit 4 last nites display, he was quality.

  13. “Thanks for the great comments guys. Just to let you all know I’m putting down a cheeky fiver on Marseille to beat Liverpool tomorrow. I know it’s a long shot but at $11 and with Marseille possessing the best team in France at the moment I think they’re a decent chance. 😀 “

    Just letting you all know that my hunch about Marseille proved to be correct and I will collect my winnings with much happiness!

  14. Lets not forget Toure’s incredible tackle on Berbatov the other week! Man, what a guy. I often here my man u supporting buddies claim that Toure is the best centre back in the league. They’re not far off.

    I pray there will be a day when the Arsenal centre backs will be Toure and Micah Richards. What a team they’d make (Richards had a gun of a game against Newcastle on the weekend).

  15. I’m happy with Gallas and Toure at this stage, but you’re right, Toure and Richards in the future could be something special. For such a young defender he really is playing well. Spot on with the comments about Toure as well. My Manchester United mates would probably go with Vidic and Ferdinand over Toure but I guess that’s their problem.

  16. Jay – Vidic isn’t “crap”. He’s a great player. I love Toure a lot but that doesn’t mean I’m going to say that other players who are good aren’t. In my opinion we could use a player just like Vidic at Arsenal.

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