Arsenal get satisfactory point in Kyiv + bring back Djourou

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Arsenal got the point that Arsene Wenger thought they would from their trip to the Ukraine after only managing a 1-1 draw against Dynamo Kyiv. Despite dominating the first half the boys failed to score and were made to rely on another late William Gallas strike to salvage a point after Ismael Bangoura converted a highly dubious penalty midway through the second period.

It was actually quite an interesting game, surprising considering the way a lot of the Champions League games in Eastern Europe tend to go. It seemed like it might be a bit of a dull affair when the Arsenal team sheet came through, Wenger choosing to drop Emmanuel Eboue for Alex Song and going for a 4-5-1 formation to match that of their Ukrainian opponents. The formation switch meant that Emmanuel Adebayor was supported by Robin van Persie on the left and Theo Walcott on the right, while the usual suspects lined up in their favoured positions.

Despite Wenger’s obviously cautious approach to the match, his side created numerous opportunities in the first half and should have been at least a goal up at the break. Van Persie had an effort saved by the shins of the Kyiv goalkeeper in just the 5th minute before Adebayor somehow fired wide from twelve yards after ghosting past two challenges. It was a typical Adebayor play, fall of athleticism and awkward skill before a shot which really should have been placed in the corner was thumped wide.

Midfield in control

As well as his very early effort, van Persie blasted just wide in the 41st minute before Cesc Fabregas also got in on the act, scuffing a tame shot straight into the goalkeeper after lovely work from Adebayor and Walcott. It was virtually the last act of a half that Arsenal were firmly in control of, Denilson, Song and Fabregas controlling the centre of the park and the front three carving out some great opportunities.

When the half resumed, Arsenal almost went behind when Kyiv winger Roman Eremenko tricked his way past Gallas and thumped a low shot against Manuel Almunia’s. The Spanish keeper quickly pounced on the ball as every Kyiv man and his dog looked hungrily at ball sitting six yards out of from an empty net. An agonising moment for Dynamo and a huge let-off for the Arsenal boys.

Arsenal struggled to hit their stride in the second half as the game petered out slightly. However, it was reignited in controversial circumstances when some hesitant play by Gallas on the halfway line let Bangoura in down the right. Although the Arsenal captain came back to make a challenge the ball made its way back to Bangoura, allowing the Guinean striker to float a cross into the box. Ognjen Vukojevic and Bacary Sagna both jumped for the ball, fell in a heap on the ground, and the referee pointed to the spot.

It looked a penalty all the way on first viewing, but replies showed that Vukojevic sneakily grabbed Sagna’s shirt, hauling the Arsenal defender down on top of him in the process. Bangoura, who had been troubling both Kolo Toure and Gallas throughout the second half, stepped up to take the kick and calmly sent Almunia the wrong way. After the match, Wenger had this to say about the penalty decision: 

“The penalty was very, very harsh because we are convinced the guy took Sagna with two hands and went down but the referee called it and what can you do about that.”

Not much, unfortunately. As I said before, it looked a penalty on first viewing and I don’t think we can get too mad at the referee – especially considering the one that was awarded to Mr Eboue on the weekend.

It looked like Arsenal were heading for yet another defeat to a former Soviet nation and Wenger promptly made some attacking changes. Nicklas Bendtner, that man Eboue and Carlos Vela replaced Song, Sagna and van Persie and the fresh legs enabled Arsenal to carve out a couple of late chances.

The first saw Adebayor fire a header at the keeper direct from a corner while the second saw the boys get the goal they deserved, Gallas prodding home after a lovely low cross from Walcott, Arsenal’s best player on the night. It was a lovely goal under the circumstances, Adebayor controlling well on the edge of the box before flicking it out to Walcott who put it on a plate for the best defender cum striker in the business.

Mixed emotions

The final whistle blew shortly after (a little too shortly after for Wenger’s liking) and Arsenal had collected the point that the manager had said he would be happy with. Given the nature of the match it’s a result that I was quite happy to get and will get the boys headed the right direction. After the match, Wenger was in a similar frame of mind with regards to the draw: 

“My feelings are a mixture of disappointment and relief. We were a goal down with three minutes to go and we didn’t lose. At 1-0 down at least we found the resources to fight back to 1-1 because the players gave it everything.”

And he’s absolutely right. At the start of the game you probably would have settled for a draw and whenever your side scores a late equaliser you’re always going to be happier than the side that concedes it. Having said that, this was a game which should have been killed off in the first half and that should be something of a concern.

Interestingly, the man who rescued the game was perhaps the least impressed by the result, making clear his disappointment at Arsenal’s failure to beat Dynamo Kyiv:

“I don’t feel anything about my goal – I just feel about the victory. I’m very disappointed, like the players and the manager. I scored a goal but nothing else.”

I think it’s good to here that sort of thing coming from Gallas. He’s copped a lot of flak with regards to his ability to captain the side but when he makes statements like that you really do get the feeling that his desire to win is as strong as anybody else in the squad. He also deserves credit for the way he is able to pop up with crucial late goals and his tendency to do so may be invaluable as the season rolls on.

Overall, this was an OK result and performance. Theo Walcott showed again just what sort of player he is becoming, standing up to some really tough challenges before providing his second assist in as many games for the club. Alex Song did well in his first start for the season, providing the sort of bite that Denilson just can’t. I get the feeling that Song may become a vital member of the side going forward in the Champions League, especially in away games where Wenger tends to fall back on the safer 4-5-1 option.

The real worry to come out of this game was the collective performance of Gallas and Toure. They are still not clicking and I just can’t see why Wenger has reverted to play this combination when the Gallas-Johan Djourou partnership was working so much more effectively. I have nothing against Kolo Toure personally, I just feel that Djourou did nothing to warrant losing his place in the side and since he has come in, the Ivorian has done very little to warrant keeping his spot. I can’t see it happening, but I’d like to see Djourou come in to the side against Bolton this weekend.

That’s about it for today. Hope you enjoyed reading and I’d love to hear what you thought of the game in the comments. Cheers.

Have your say on Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Dynamo Kyiv by leaving a comment.


28 thoughts on “Arsenal get satisfactory point in Kyiv + bring back Djourou

  1. We had 11 players on the field. 10 of them would have scored that open goal in the 18th minute. Is Wenger too frightened to sub Adebayor?

  2. playing 451 against a team that lost all 6 matches last year is a joke imo. we should of gone 442 and gone at them

  3. @ jc – They’re heaps better than they were last season. 4-5-1 is OK I feel, Wenger was obviously wary of something and that’s why he reverted. He did it all last season and it worked reasonably well.

  4. Hi, I found your blog on this new directory of WordPress Blogs at I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, i duno. Anyways, I just clicked it and here I am. Your blog looks good. Have a nice day. James.

  5. Changing around the system to a 4-5-1 meant that Arsenal lacked more natural width and was a very negative move on Wenger’s part. We should just stick to our attacking lineup and kept with the 4-4-2. After all, a good offence is sometimes the best defence. Probably missed Nasri’s creativity and Vela should have come on earlier.

  6. Joke. How could Gallas rescued Arsenal while he was the one who lost possession and led to a goal from Kyiv? What Gallas-Djourou partnership? Should be Toure-Djourou combination instead! If you got no ideal what you are talking about, go and watch any game france played recently and witness how your hero Gallas performed!!

  7. @ fanner – I don’t think you’ve really addressed the comments I made. I said that Djourou was in the side (as a result of Toure’s illness) and he did nothing to warrant getting dropped. I’m upset that Wenger did not continue to use a partnership that was clearly working well.

    This is not about who is better out of Gallas and Toure, it’s about who deserves to be in the side based on performances for Arsenal this season. And with this in mind, Gallas and Djourou would be my preference.

  8. Fanner, the sad truth is, it doesnt matter how badly Gallas plays, he will always play cause he is our captain. If AW bloods Wilshere and Ramsey for the last 15-20 minutes of games we have wrapped up, he should be doing the same for JD. In saying that, i think AW will definately play JD in our CC and FA cup games.

  9. I absolutely agree with fanner. Dodgy Gallas is the one to blame really for the goal we conceded. Djourou for Gallas any day.

  10. It’s certainly an interesting debate. Do you factor in Gallas’ penchant for a goal? Or his captaincy?

    I think it’s pretty clear Gallas will never be dropped by Wenger and as such, my opinion is that Djourou is his best partner.

  11. I agree that Gallas was rather poor. He should be dropped. There again who can we play in CB. Toure is not hot either.
    CM… best partner for Cesc would be Eboue. Song is not dynamic enough for Arsenal’s style and Denilson is too similar to Cesc. Eboue looks full of commitment and drive. His entrance change our game after we were one nil down. We were in disarray after conceding the dubious penalty,with Kiev on the accendency until Eboue came in and helping Walcott in attack and explioting the gaps left by Kiev defenders as they double up on Walcott.
    Hopefully, either of Djourou or Sevestre plays this weekend.

  12. Fanner, if your such a thick c*%t that you can’t even write in a write proper sentences I suggest you don’t comment at all.
    Your not the manager and neither are most of the other armchair experts who have commented on here, so I’d leave it to Wenger to decide. At least Gallas redeemed his mistake and what is it with the hating on Ade still?

  13. Penalty was rubbish. I don’t agree that Bangoura was troubling us with his one-touch shoot from anywhere antics. Sure at the end when we were pushing for the goal we were leaving a great deal of space. We should’ve won, but we could’ve lost so it’s mixed emotions. That’s football. I thought Carlos Vela would’ve been a better option rather than Bendtner earlier, because the crossing into the box (despite leading to the eventual goal) wasn’t particularly effective and Vela who would run at the players would have been more effective. We were just losing a bit of focus. Theo needs to take a step back a little bit, and we should never ever refer to him as Lewis Hamilton as we surely do not want him (Theo) to grow a head that is like a giant beach-ball, such as the one on Hamilton. He’s trying to make an impact every time he gets the ball and he just lacks the consistency to do it. Slow down son, you’ll get there in the end. Furthermore we need to be smarter about our defence, as you said Spanish, we need to consistently rotate Touré and Djourour the Israeli Marsupial.
    Bear out.

  14. I think Gallas’ captaincy is dodgy at best… I’m convinced that he wasn’t our best choice for a captain.

    Not only that, but his performances are suffering, he’s making too many mistakes, and he’s not good/strong enough in the air.

    Personally I think Toure is better than Gallas, and Toure+Djourou would be a very interesting combination.

    It’s a shame as you say, that Gallas will always play because he is the captain…

  15. I think it is quite unlikley that Wenger would drop Gallas for any other player, he seems to have alot of confidence in his French players, so much so that it does not seem to matter if they are ov er thirty or not.Being over thirty or rather not being over thirty only applies to non French players, in saying that i think Gallas’s place in the squad is absolutely safe the combination will always be Gallas and somedbody else.In my opinion the best combination is Djourou nad Toure the latter of which in my opinion is the best defender we have got>

  16. Personally I think Arsenal fans should give Kyev credit for playing a good game against the hardest opponents in the group. Having said that the ref also souldve opened his eyes and get the courage to dish out a red card for that furious tackle on Wall-e. This discussion about the CBs is ridiculous, Gallas is the hero of the match, bc he scored the equalizer!Its not the first time he score this season. Why not talk about how crap Bentner really is and why he’s part of the AW ‘exceptional’ squad. Or the response the team had after going a goal down, which was not impressive, very much like the Fulam match! Last year Arsenal was always capable to respond and even win the match, not this year. Another thing, whats the problem about having French players? Really, what else are you people going to find to discredit the very team you support?!! Do you not realize that they are part of the French squad for a reason, like maybe they are part of Frances 22 best players!! Have you fagot about AW, Henry and Pires and their contributions to the club in the passed. What are you going to talk about next, colour and creed, seriously grow up and have some respect for the club and more importantly for yourselves…

  17. @Truth,
    what an irony,everything you said is ironical,even your name sounds ironical to what you stated.
    Firstly we aren’t here to make grammertical impressions.
    Secondly,you complained about Fanner’s statement whereas yours is an ‘eyesore’.Why can’t you just state your opinion instead of calling fellow fans names.

  18. Does anyone else wonder why Cesc was playing so far forward for most of the match? Other than his tap to the keeper, he was practically non-existent on the pitch in the first half. Only after we were down in the second did he seem to come back to link up with the rest of the mid-field and seem like his normal self. I’m not blaming him, it just seemed a bit odd.

    As for the play leading up to the penalty, the entire back line and Denilson were out of position. Clichy was caught forward without Denilson covering for him, Gallas misplayed the ball and then overran it when Bangoura took it down the left, Toure left Vukojevic alone in the middle of the penalty area and Sagna ran up behind him instead of moving between him and the goal.

  19. I think it’s a bit harsh slagging Arsene off for opting for caution last night. 4-5-1 is a sensible tactic for an away game in a country where we’ve failed miserably in recent years. You look to draw your away games and win at home in the CL group stages. On Gallas; yes he has his faults, but the man’s commitment gets him a place in my team any time. Not sure I agree with you Spanish about Gallas-Djourou in central defence- I still think Toure’s a great player. I’m just happy we’re not having to cope with Senderos any more. I agree with RasDef that Bendtner’s crap.
    @Truth: cut out the abuse mate, we’re all entitled to an opinion, that’s what these websites are for.

  20. By drawing yesterday, we did quite well, considering we were on the brink of losing.
    However the real loss was not the two points, but rather the amount of playing time that young players like Vela and Wilshire might have got had we wrapped up the game in the first half.
    Last season, we lost steam in February because in our squad, the first 11 was so good, but their back-up were all wanting because of limited match exposure.
    This season should we blood in our players well, we mightjust suprise a few people.

  21. Relax we got our draw away at Kiev. I was discussing this with a few mates and we’ve come to the conclusion that Arsenal may have received the toughest draw of all the lot. Dynamo, Porto and Fenerbache are arguably 3 of the toughest places to go for an away fixture in all of Europe. We will take care of business at the Emirates and go through.

  22. A while ago everyone was saying drop Eboue, he is rubbish and i have always liked Eboue, yet i got slated for liking him. Now most people like to see him, he has playedwell. I think of Gallas the same, he is a CB and scores a lot for a CB. Crucial goals. He has scored past Man Utd, Lpool and Chelsea since bein a Gunner. scored in all 3 champo games and is a strong defender. I like him!

  23. C-Bass is right and even though the 4-5-1 might not have been conducive opening up Kyiv’s defense, it is better the players got familiar with the setup for the up coming away matches. In defense of Senderos, if Wenger wants defensive players with offensive mindedness,Gallas’ mistakes are to be expected and Fanner’s desire to see Toure partnered with Djourou is in my view valid. It should be interesting to see if Wenger rests Gallas this weekend and see what pairing he puts in the middle.

  24. A2Gooner. Yeah I wondered about that too. Athough I actually thought Cesc was not too bad in the first half but looked out on his feet from about half way through the second half. I wondered if the fact he hasn’t played 90 minutes 4 days apart, since what April? had caught him out. I don’t think he’s 100% just yet.

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