Rosicky steps up for Arsenal

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Arsenal broke their winless streak against Chelsea with a well-deserved 1-0 victory at Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Ashley Cole lets out his frustration after the whistleThe crucial goal was scored just before half-time by ex-Chelsea defender and Arsenal captain William Gallas when he capitalised on an error by Petr Cech to head home Cesc Fabregas’ corner. And although Chelsea went very close to an equaliser through Shaun Wright-Phillips in the 75th minute the home side held on reasonably comfortably and may have even extended their lead when they had the ball in the back of the net on two occasions in the last 10 minutes, only for the linesman’s flag and the referee’s whistle to deny them on both occasions.

The key to Arsenal’s win was the return of midfield trio Alexander Hleb, Mathieu Flamini and Fabregas, who missed the dismal performance away to Middlesbrough a week earlier. The trio joined Tomas Rosicky and Emmanuel Eboue in a five-man midfield behind Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor, while Robin van Persie returned to the bench after a strong performance in the Champions League midweek.

The first-choice back five was again available with Manuel Almunia returning to the side after Jens Lehmann’s brief cameo against Steaua Bucharest while Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, William Gallas and Gael Clichy each started in front of him. It was essentially a full-strength side for Arsenal and they put in a performance more than adequate enough to walk away with the three points.

Arsenal went into the game knowing that only a win would see them head back to the top of the table after Manchester United’s win at Liverpool earlier in the day. But they were made to work extremely hard for the win by a Chelsea side missing arguably their two best players in Didier Drogba and Michael Essien through injury and suspension respectively. The game started at a bright pace with Flamini providing the first highlight with an explosive run, but his fifty-yard dash was eventually scuppered by resident boo-boy Ashley Cole. Soon after Arsenal were almost gifted a goal when Alex attempted a back header but only succeeded in lobbing his own goalkeeper. Luckily for Chelsea, the ball bounced just wide.

A couple of good saves by Almunia from Wright-Phillips and Andriy Shevchenko were sandwiched by an awful tackle by John Terry on Fabregas. He received a yellow-card for his troubles, but received even further retribution when Eboue tackled late, forcing the England captain hobbling off the pitch to be replaced by Ben Tal-Haim. It was a stupid tackle by Eboue and one that will not help his growing reputation as a hot-headed player, but I have to say I found the sight of Terry going off so soon after trying to mark Fabregas’ shins quite pleasing. Ironically, Eboue would receive his punishment for the tackle later on in the match after an encounter with Joe Cole saw the Arsenal winger forced off with knee-ligament damage.

Captain Gallas again scored a crucial goalGallas decisive again

The half looked to be ending 0-0 until Gallas struck two minutes into injury-time. Chelsea turned possession over in the centre of the park and the ball fed through to Rosicky, who won a corner for Arsenal despite a lovely tackle by Paulo Ferreira. Fabregas stepped up to swing in the corner, Cech came out and got nowhere near it and Gallas was on hand to out-jump Ben-Haim and head into the empty net. It was such a suprising error by Cech, who rarely makes mistakes of any kind, but as Arsene Wenger alerted to after the match, Gallas was probably the only player who would have gambled on such an error because of his striker’s instinct.

“I’m not sure if I would have jumped behind Cech because I would have thought he takes the ball, you know? And that’s a real striker, they believe if a mistake happens they are there.”

Judging by Ben-Haim’s feeble jump he expected Cech to get to it, so there’s definitely some credit in what Wenger is saying. That’s three times that Gallas has got forward to score crucial goals in crucial games and when you consider that two of them have been against Manchester United and Chelsea he’s really making a difference.

Scoring a goal just before the break must have really stung Chelsea and they came out for the second-half with renewed energy. John Obi Mikel had a shot brilliantly saved by Almunia and then Wright-Phillips preceded to wasted Chelsea’s best chance of the match, volleying wide from very close range from substitute Claudio Pizarro’s cross. In the meantime, the inured Eboue was replaced by van Persie, but the Dutchman immediately wasted a chance to put the game to bed after great midfield pressure by Rosicky and a neat cushioned pass by Hleb.

I’ll just take some time now to talk about how well I thought Tomas Rosicky played. Although he didn’t grab a goal his touch, passing, movement and perhaps most surprisingly, industry were absolutely vital against Chelsea. There’s no question that the Czech midfield has struggled without his midfield buddies but having Flamini, Hleb and Fabregas back in the side lifted Rosicky to arguably his best performance of the season. More of the same please, Tomas.

Things went a little bit crazy during the final ten minutes of the match with Arsenal and Chelsea having a number of chances to get on the scoresheet late on. Adebayor held off two challenges to slip a pass to Rosicky who then laid a great ball through for van Persie to fire home, but play was called back after the Czech midfielder was correctly ruled to be in an offside position from Adebayor’s initial pass. Almunia then saved well from a Shevchenko header before van Persie and Fabregas were denied by a great double-save by Cech.

With the game running from end to end Arsenal then had another goal disallowed, this time scored by Adebayor. The Arsenal striker was ruled to have fouled Ben-Haim in the build-up to the goal but I’ve watched the replay numerous times and still can’t understand what he did wrong; if anything it was the Israeli defender who was clinging on to Adebayor’s shirt. There was a nervous moment very late on for the home side when substitute Gilberto Silva clumsily fouled Joe Cole just outside the Arsenal area. Shevchenko hammered the free-kick straight at Almunia but it was hit with such pace that the Arsenal keeper did well just to tip it over the bar.

From the subsequent corner the home side won possession, raced down the other end almost scored with the last kick of the game only for Fabregas’ shot to be blocked by the traitor Ashley Cole. Fabregas then proceded to scissor-tackle Cole as the Chelsea defender cleared and the ex-Arsenal man retaliated by pushing the Spaniard in the face. With Fabregas and Cole both on the ground the final whistle blew and Arsenal had done enough to win their first game over Chelsea in almost four years.

Rosicky was everywhere for ArsenalFew negatives

You can probably already tell from the amount of incidents in this match that it was really great game to watch. Although Chelsea lacked a bit of quality up front they really worked hard to nullify Arsenal’s passing game and on the most part they did so effectively. What really stood out to me was the speed with which Arsenal were able to move the ball through the centre of the pitch with their first-choice midfielders available. Flamini showed again why he has become so important to Arsenal’s title charge, winning tackles and playing with the energy that meant the likes of Lampard never really had time to line up shots from the edge of the area.

Fabregas was a little patchy in the first half but as the game wore on his quality and fitness shone through. On another day he would have had at least one goal and his ability to fashion chances late in games means he will continue to be as dangerous a player as he was before his injury. Hleb was quiet at times but his speed and touch on the ball was crucial and ensured that the aforementioned Rosicky was able to have such a strong game.

Defensively I thought Arsenal were exceptional. Consistency has been the name of the game this season and the performances of Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna continued that trend. Rarely did Chelsea threaten down the wings while both the Arsenal full-backs pushed forward on numerous occasions. Gallas was a monster again at the back and did well to get the only goal while he received great support by Toure. At the start of the season I spoke about how important it was for Gallas and Toure to strike up a very strong partnership and I’m delighted to say that this has really come to fruition. Last but not least was Almunia. Question marks were raised about the Spanish goalkeeper’s ability to deal with big matches after his effort against Manchester United, but Almunia was one of the most important players on the pitch against Chelsea. Great stuff and, as I said about Rosicky, hopefully it will continue.

When it’s all said and done, there weren’t really any negatives to take out of this game. Although it wasn’t a perfect Arsenal performance it was great to see Wenger’s first-choice side on the pitch in period between Eboue and Hleb’s substitutions. It’s scary to think that things will only get better as the newly-returned players continue to recover from their various injuries. I guess the only really negative thing to come out of the weekend was that Liverpool failed to take any points of United and the brilliant result against Chelsea did not extend Arsenal’s lead at the top. Alas, one can’t be too greedy and I’ll settle for a hard-fought win over one of the best sides in the country.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal’s excellent win over Chelsea by leaving a comment.


29 thoughts on “Rosicky steps up for Arsenal

  1. I dont think that Rosicky had a good game at all. I dont feel he did anything. He is moving onto borrowed time for me, we’ve waited too long for him to fufill his potential.

  2. Interesting, obviously I don’t agree at all. For me he was everywhere. The amount of times he fought hard to win the ball in his own half and then broke free to join the attack was unbelievable. Definitely the best player on the pitch in my opinion.

  3. Brilliant game. there really wernt to many negatives. although eboue is a loss i really cant see him as a right midfielder :(.

    go gooners.

  4. Hi guys,

    I see the sun has as well given Rosicky star man (sort of man of the match).

    I believe he is a very intelligent player and I expect much from him soon!
    Remember Hleb?

  5. jock- dont be a plank mate, you cant see eboue as a midfielder? apart from his theatrics i thought he was quality yesterday. driving forward and actually made a few crucial tackles also. flattuso!

  6. Amani – Really? That’s more like it! Eboue played OK but didn’t really stand out. I’m happy having him as our right-midfielder in a 4-5-1, and first-choice back-up when the full-strength 4-4-2 is available.

  7. eboue is a good player, but i think he does over-react and makes some silly decision making.
    he can be a really good player, just needs to add a bit more to his game and am sure he will be a world class right winger

  8. Great staff ARSENAL.The confidence play that was showed by the Team was tremendous.Good game guys, thiugh i must mention that we need to utilise every goal opportunity to score as if they will be no other chance to score.It was a Great Game to Watch.keep it up. bennry.

  9. There were definitely some missed chances, on another day we may have won 3-0. Fabregas was particularly shaky in front of goal, his volley after Cech’s parry should have found the back of the net and so should his late effort which was blocked by Cole. Van Persie’s miss was a shocker, even I could have finished that! I think if those players were 100% it may have been a different story but that may just be an excuse.

  10. Yeah Spanish fry, and I agree with you that Eboue was ok. He put a manly perfomance.

    Alumnia for england anyone?


  11. I wouldn’t like to see Almunia play for England, hehe, and I don’t think many English people would either. He’s doing well right now but he’s not the answer for England, they need a younger keeper to come through and take up the position. It would be hilarious watching England v Germany if both he and Lehmann were in the sides 🙂

  12. I think Arsenal was great yesterday. Eboue did very well, if Terry had been on when we took the corner kick that resulted in the goal, I am sure the story would have been defferent now but thank God Eboue took him out and also helped keep Fabregas on the field cos Terry was on Fabregas’s case all through the 39 minutes he spent on the field. But my man of the match goes to Manuel Almunia, who many of us (including me) never rate as a big match player. He proved yesterday why Lehman should go at the end of the season.

  13. Eboue was getting game time while RvP was out, i dont think we will miss him much, now that Wenger will revert to 4-4-2..with

    RvP – Ade
    Rosicky – Fab – Flamuso – Hleb

    Usual suspects at the back

  14. Ive watched the highlights over several times and thought Almunia was great. Ive loved him since day dot, especially in the Cross Bar Challenge! Almunia no.1. Lehmann gave us awesome service for those couple of years (remember the penalty saves against Riquelme in the CL semi and also against Scholes in the FA Cup 05). Bring Fabianski through into no.2 and let the old cranky German bow out in style!

  15. a) Terry did not foul Cesc, or as you put it, “mark Fabgregas’ shins”.
    b) Eboue was lucky not to be red-carded for his tackle, have seen many challenges like that get reds.
    c) Fabregas’ scissor kick / rugby tackle from behind on Ashley Cole was disgraceful. Then, after Cole touched his NECK, he proceeded to hold his FACE and roll around in agony, before getting up quickly with no more pain and celebrating the win. Shows his true colours.
    d) Arsenal were lucky that Ben-Haim came on, because he is laughable. Does not have any quality at all for a top 4 team.
    e) Man of the match – Jon Obi Mikel. The kid is amazing, he ruled the midfield. Absolute class player, week in week out for Chelsea.
    f) 🙂

  16. “L’Enfant Terrible”
    If you take out Gallas’s goals we would’ve been at least 4 points behind M.Utd. It just shows how important it is for everyone to chip in. In contrast AshCash’s form is not good.the Arsenal fans got the better of him, he reacted and gave the two fingers.He is in trouble with the FA for that.Rosicky done well but that is only possible because of the man I nicknamed “L’enfant Terrible” Flamini he adds roughness to Arsenal’s silky football.Eboue needs to watch it he is not far from a Red card. the last 20 mins of the game was brilliant the score should’ve been 4-2.Despite all our resilliant football the expert still tip M.utd to win the title. We shall continue to prove everyone wrong.Liverpool should’ve got at least a point from that game. M.utd played exactly the same way they played against us they sat back relying on quick counter attacks, you normally associate this tactics whith smaller teams but they are using it effectively.At the moment the best defensive duo is Rio/Vidic and Gallas/Toure in January its going to be Gallas/? .Please don’t mention Senderos.I’m glad the guys are back and the next one they’ll be a lot sharper. Perfect timing for those “Lilywhites”.

  17. Good to see that others also witnessed the great performance by Rosicky. He was all over the place, his work rate was unbelievable. And that was not entirely (but also) due to the return of his partners in crime. He had great games before, remember? Wiley didn’t have the best of days. Got to have a look at the ‘offside’ again. If it was offside it was damn close. The second disallowed goal was simply a travesty. He got that 100% wrong.
    Negatives? Hm, really not much of that. I don’t like Kolo’s playing the long balls as he does lately. He should scrap that and play our game. Reading what comes from the Chelsea corner there must have been a second game. In the one I watched they didn’t dominate anything.

  18. We had 3 stand out players i belive. 1) Tomas Rosicky – this guy did not stop until the whistle and was fantastic. 2) Maunel Almunia, he has been criticsed of late but yesterdays peformance puts him back in No.1 spot defo. 3) Gael Clichy, no-body got beyond him. Super! John Obi Mikel was Chelseas only real threat. SWP missed from 6 yards. OMG. HAHA. Sheva free kick was good tho. We shud have won 3-0. Fabregas shud have scored that follow up and Adebayors goal shud have stood. All in all, great win lads

  19. For myself, Rosicky was the MOM. He was all over the place, every time he ran with the ball or put his head up he looked threatening to the Chelski opposition. I don’t think I saw him lose the ball once during the game. If you really look back Tomas was involved with the creating of the goal (corner kick) and could have been responsible for creating 2 more goals for our boys. So all in all, good game Gunners. Future BPL champions of 07/08

  20. Very nice result. I have agree with Jay the 3 standouts were definately Rosicky, Almunia and Clichy. Rosicky was the catalyst for our passing game and Almunia’s performance speaks for itself I think.

    Clichy did a fantastic job sealing his side of the pitch. At one time in the game he had Wright-Phillips over there and another Chelsea player and they still couldn’t put the slip on him. I think we take his defensive brilliance for granted a bit. Obviously I’ve neglected Gallas whom I think the above can be said about as well.

    For me the one player who didn’t particularly stand out was Eboue. I thought he drove forward several times only to fail to pass the ball when he was clearly going to be thwarted.

  21. Yeah Eboue holds the ball a little too much at times without really driving forward with pace. He sort of ambles his way forward and it gives the opposition time to cover the flank. I do love his unpredictability and when he gets clear he’s very dangerous but he’s very unlike Hleb in that he struggles to make space when things are very tight.

  22. Eboue, out?. No way. His contribution in playing deep is crucial for Arsenal’s defence. In the United game that was very visible. I can see that Wenger keeps him on at times beyind substitution mainly for his defensive play as well. Not many are good at that.

  23. I was very happy with Rosicky after some lacklustre performances. He does enjoy having his first-choice buddies around him.
    Almunia, Clichy, Sagna, Gallas etc all had very good games as others have pointed out. Hleb, Van Persie and Cesc were all slightly off the pace it seemed. Give them a few more matches and they’ll be world-beaters once again.
    The only player I was unhappy with was Eboue. That challenge was rather horrible. Blocking the ball? Didn’t look like it to me… And if he continues to ignore Sagna’s overlapping runs for too much longer I won’t be upset to see him go to second-choice right back… I am not happy he was injured obviously, but I do hope to see our best 4-4-2 coming together soon. I’m sick of this 4-5-1 nonsense…

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