Adebayor’s magic moment puts one Arsenal foot in the semi-finals

Adebayor celebrates his astounding goalEmmanuel Adebayor may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he produced a moment of real craft and quality to put us within touching distance of the Champions League semi-final. With just over 20 minutes to go and Arsenal trailing to Marcos Senna’s early thunderbolt, Adebayor cleverly controlled a chip pass by Cesc Fabregas on his chest before conjuring placing an outrageous overhead kick into the far corner. 

It was far from a vintage performance from Arsenal as Villarreal took on 10 minutes and really tested us in the first half. The manager went for the “perfect” side I predicted – Theo Walcott kept his spot while Samir Nasri replaced Andrey Arshavin – but Villarreal were undoubtedly the better side early on. By playing in clever triangles they rarely allowed Denilson and Alex Song to settle and paved the way for Senna’s thunderous opener. 

While Senna’s strike was well-struck, I do have my suspicions that Manuel Almunia would have saved it had it not been for his early knock. As it was the ball went in and Almunia was replaced soon after by Lukasz Fabianski who made a crucial double-save seconds after entering the pitch. I thought the Pole did extremely well last night, particularly given his expression suggested he was caught by surprise to be called upon.

While Villarreal’s attack was firing on all cylinders our front four of Adebayor, Fabregas, Nasri and Walcott were struggling. Indeed, aside from a Nasri half-chance and Cesc’s correctly disallowed free-kick goal we had very little to show for a first half in which we were very much second best. To make matters worse, William Gallas went down with a serious knee injury just before the break that could see him out for the rest of the season. As I said earlier, vintage Arsenal it was not.

Thankfully our performance improved considerably after half-time. There was a real heart-in-mouth moment just after the break when the previously-booked Cesc lunged in Joan Capdevila, but the referee showed some common sense to award nothing more than a foul for a challenge where little contact was made.

We then made two decent chances through an Adebayor header and a frustrating opportunity which saw Nasri criminally over-hit a pass that would have set Walcott up. That miss was forgotten soon after though as Adebayor netted his superb equaliser. There’s not much more I can say about his goal other than I seriously believe it’s the goal of the season. Should we go on to win this competition (fingers crossed) then we will be looking back on that moment with real fondness.

From that point on I really thought we were going to win it. Our tails were up and we were playing the sort of strong, patient, possession football that Wenger would have been looking for throughout the first hour. Despite that we couldn’t push on and get the winner as Villarreal found their feet again in the last quarter of an hour with Senna blasting another cannonball narrowly wide and substitute Robert Pires helping force a couple of late chances.

So 1-1 it ended, a fair result and a fairly positive outcome for our boys. The away goal means a scoreless draw or any sort of win at home will see us through and it’s a pretty strong position to be in.

I wonder too about what sort of psychological effect our goal will have had on the Villarreal players considering the quality of the performance in the first-half. It is often said that teams need to score goals when they’re playing well and I just get the feeling that we’ve seen the very best that Villarreal can muster while our boys still have plenty in the tank.

A quick mention on the performances by the Arsenal players. I though Gael Clichy was superb last night, as was Kolo Toure and Johan Djourou once he came on. Meanwhile Bacary Sagna did his job like he always does. In the middle Song and Denilson had quiet first halves before significantly upping their game in the second. I suspect the manager might have had a quiet word to the pair about their workrate at the break.

I thought our attacking quartet did reasonably well under the circumstances. The injuries removed the opportunity to add the fresh legs of Carlos Vela and Nicklas Bendtner in place of Fabregas – who is still getting back to full fitness – and Nasri – who was recovering from the flu. I thought Walcott was our most dangerous player while Adebayor worked his socks off and scored a truly remarkable goal.

And that’s that for another thrilling European night. I’m off to have a beer. Enjoy yourselves.

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



  1. Im really concerned with the rate our players get injured. Injuries might destroy our chances of winning trophies and i believe this is our best chance (since 2006) of winning the CL.

    Anyway, it was a great result.
    Adebayor, Adebayor! Give him the ball and he will score!
    That was a super goal from Ade, the goal it gets better everytime i see it. Now we just have to keep a clean sheet next week. That should be our number one priority. We dont concede, we go through.

  2. Great results, but far from over. VR were really good in the first half. Like Arsenal on a good day. Worried about Gallas … a big loss. More protection from midfield required and more from Denilson and Song who is improving. Felt a goal was coming, but VR could also have gone ahead. Much more positive approach from team as you felt that they believed it could come and that is really positive.

  3. Yeah, I sometimes wonder if it’s training methods or something that is causing so many injuries each season. I guess that may be the price for the quick, exciting football we play.

    I said on this blog before the City game that if Ade comes back firing on all cyclinders then he could make our season, particularly with the injury to RvP. Ade seems to be working harder and 4 goals in 3 games (inc Togo) since his return from injury is a great sign. let’s hope he’s back to his best!

    Fabregas looked shattered by the end of the game and who can blame him, as he was out for so long and has returned to put in two fantastic performances, setting up all the goals since his return.

    Let’s hope we keep up the momentum aganist Wigan. 4th place is still to fight for but I wonder if we will see a few players rested on Sat – we can’t afford to lose any more 1st team players if we’re going to win the double…

  4. It is becoming very apparent that Man u is not as exceptional as a lot of analyst were thinking.Man have struggled in their last 4 games and have conceded at least 2 goals in a match and i think their sudden metamorphosis came when they were comprehensively whitewashed by liverpool at old traford that result showed every team in the world that Man u can be beaten and that is why fulham,aston villa and F.C porto have refused to be intimidated by the old traford pretenders.It is really amusing and amazing that a team who kept a clean sheet in 10 consecutive games has found it difficult to concede less than 2 goals in their last 4 games.The truth is right from the beginning of the season Man u were not really exceptional,they were winning games because their opponents felt they could not win but that myth was shattered beyond monumental proportions when liverpool came to Old traford.Man u had the easiest fixture in the championsleague and yet they could not take advantage of it,chelsea and liverpool would have died to have a championsleague fixture against FC Porto it would be extremely difficult for man u in the return leg,fc porto has 2 away goals and they have a great record against Man u maybe fcporto could help Morinho avenge intermilan’s exit from the championsleague

  5. Just to add to the main post.
    I think that we are too gentle with our praise for Song. He is realy maturing into a main stay in midfiiel. He works very very hard with a great deal of skill and success. Last night for me he was the man of the match.


  7. If we can up the temple from the off next week, we will confortably wrap up this tie by the 70th minute.
    However my worry is that we did not create clear-cut chances yesterday. I also noticed Walcott put the fear of God in VR, when he was subbed, Capdevilla started moving forward a lot.

  8. indeed a tropy/trophies are more injuries let’s pray 4 our boys.we gotta show these people that we are back,we were laughed at and mocked but this is our chance.Kudos Adebayor that was remarkable.Kudos everyone and man we need our flying walcott all the time!keep it emirates gunners

  9. Great performance by our boys and only hope we rich the finals and possibly win the champions league this time around.A good result for us out there in spain and only wish the boys to overturn issues in London in the return match.W e have enough material to coverup the gup left by One Gallas .Wish him well and possibly be up agaist man u in the league.Enjoy all our proceedings both in the league and uefa.Patrick -Kitwe,Zambia.

  10. wen Ade had it rough everybody wanted arsenal to cash in on him come summer.i wonder what such people think of him me Ade is class and needs players like fab,dudu and walccott to bring out the best in him.i cant wait to see these players and arsha/nasri around him

  11. We have one of the most cheered team in the world and ManU supporters

    We were shocked to see ManU supporters refusing to change the channel so that we watch the Gunners Vs V/real after they saw their team equalise against porto and heard that we were trailing .But thanks to that brilliant goal which cut short their celebrations and they have all the pressure to to go and score 3goals in order to survive otherwise , their issues are very,very serious from the way i see it.Tough lucky ManU ,Us are not under such pressure.Patrick Mwabila -Kitwe-Zambia Central Africa.

  12. first of all i think most people underestimated VR seing that they held man u 2 a goales draw both times in the group stages and are unbeatin at there home turf in the CL so i knew we would be in for a test and i wasent suprised they started well. as for the goal i felt song could of done more to close senna down but nevertheless it was a crackin goal.When arsenal lost Al and WG i have to admit i was a little worried but quietly confident we would get the vital away goal . we started well in the second half it was like a different team arsens ht team talk proved to be the kick in the arse they needed. adebyor was my man of the match his work rate was brillant and his goal well wat can i say ! i felt walcot also a had a great game VR will fear his pace next leg. fabergas played well his distrbution is second to none he has played a part in every arsenal goal since he came back I thought smair narsi had an indifferent game didnt make an impact compared to his preformance in rome altho he was recovering from a virus . In all i think it was a good result for arsenal and am confidant we will win at the grove

  13. Adebayor seems to only just realise that his place in the team is not as ordained as he thought, Adebayor is now beginning to resemble the guy who scored 30 goals last season.

  14. Good result last night considering the first half performance and the fact that we were down to one substitution after Almunia and Gallas had gone off, did Ferguson have a word with Rossi!!! Can we afford to rest players against Wigan, I would suggest resting Cesc, we could bring back Arshavin and put Nasri in the middle. Anyone know when RvP is back, could he make next Wednesday? Enjoyed e-mailing my manure friends this morning but we mustn’t be complacent, everyone always says that having the home game second is best but if you know how many goals you need it could help the away team, lets hope that Arsenal stop them scoring, they get two and we will need three.

  15. Please keep me updated on the arsenal happenings as it is very interesting and we want to finish even second in the league this year and possibly take advantage of the ManU lapses and win the league after all theres still a long way to go.

    Patick .Kitwe, Zambia

    We were shocked to see ManU supporters refusing to change the channel so that we watch the Gunners Vs V/real after they saw their team equalise against porto and heard that we were trailing .But thanks to that brilliant goal which cut short their celebrations and they have all the pressure to to go and score 3goals in order to survive otherwise , their issues are very,very serious from the way i see it.Tough lucky ManU ,Us are not under such pressure.Patrick Mwabila -Kitwe-Zambia Central Africa.

  16. Fair summing up SF. The critical point of the game last night was when Denilson and song came out in the second half and closed Senna down. He had far too much time and space in the first period, and it was this that led to us being under constant pressure. Most of their play was channelled through him, and when we denied him space it allowed us to push up more and put them under pressure. Adebayor looks back to his rampaging best. Whether it’s that he’s now injury-free and chomping at the bit to give his all for Arsenal, or whether he’s putting himself in the shop window for a summer move, who knows? Either way, we’re reaping the benefit. I agree that Villareal have given us their best shot- we should have too much for them at the Emirates next week. If that goes to plan, I wouldn’t care who we get in the semis- we know we can beat Porto and Man U’s vulnerability to pace leaves me confident that we could see them off too. Barca in the final again- what a delicious prospect!

  17. I think Song deserves a lot more credit than he’s getting. He’s one of the most promising defensive midfielders in the world today and in a year or two he’ll be one of the best. Adebayor stole all the limelight and quite deservedly. His goal was one of the most outrageous i’ve ever seen, including Henry’s infamous flick. He hasn’t won a lot of hearts this season with his greediness and disloyalty, but he looks to be back in top form and that’s good news for Arsenal. But i think Song was definitely a strong contender for man-of-the-match..

  18. if arsenal are to have any chance of winning the cl we need to sort out the away performances asap,we were chasing shadows in the first half and senna was running the show, bit better in the 2nd half and whilst alot of people on this blog have been doubting bayor i knew he,d be ok once he gets the service.looks like almunia,s out for at least 2wks and i,ll be watchin fabianski with interest its a big test for him in some huge games his first real test at the top level.

  19. I thought Villarreal midfielders just jumped on us right of the bat and moved the ball so well it was difficult for Dani and Song to settle in the middle of the park in the first half. Specially the Italian Rossi and Argentinian Ibagaza were very mobile with great dribbling skill and crisp passing. Sena did what he does well, tackle, breakup play, and give the ball back to his partners. And, boy he can shoot! So, credit has to go to our defense and goalie to keep us in the game. If you guys noticed, around the 60th to 70th minute VR seemed to run out of ideas and energy. That’s when our guys got a grip of the midfield. Only after VR made substitutions to go direct attack approach that they had a couple of chances late on. A lot of defenders are afraid of seeing Theo on the team sheet, but our problem was, specially in the first half, there was nothing coming from the wings. Both Theo and Nasri were really ananymous. Theo seemed to think the next move before he controls the ball and Nasri seemed to forget how to take on anyone. This is no crticism, I believe the movement of VR midfielders unnerved most of our players. Also someone has rightly mentioned they both are coming back from injury and illness. You can’t get away from a feeling thaugh that Villarreal’s coach has done his homework on us for sure. What we should do in the second leg is score an early goal and kill the game.

    I was also not happy with Ade’s work rate earlier in the campain and thought his injury was a timely break for him. But, his goal was excellent. When he scored it the stadium seemed really quit and I was not sure what just happened.

  20. second half we were creating but not putting away, we needed a spark and didnt bayo do that, he has scored good goals before (v Newcastle and Spurs come to mind), he has scored important goals before ( v Spurs and Man Utd come to mind) but last nite was both, truly amazing goal. 3 goals in 2 games for Ade, 3 assists in 2 games for Bayo.

  21. Barca and Chelsea are through to the next round surely.

    Barca finished their game in the first half, thats something we must learn from them.
    First half- come out guns blazing, bang in the goal and get the job done.
    2nd half- sit back and relax, pass the ball arround untill the game ends
    I like it, its simple and effective.

  22. @ Gibbs – Huge scorelines. I know there’s still a bit to go but I don’t think many people would have predicted Man United and Liverpool to go out. Heh.

  23. To be honest i dont think anyone can get past Barca…they are simply awesome.

    They have Messi who is on fire. They have Eto and Henry in there attack. How good is that front 3.

    They have Xavi and Iniesta who are unreal and good enough to keep Fabregas out of the spain side.

    What i thought would be there weakness in centre defence is now covered with the emergance of Pique. Fergie would be shooting himself for letting both Rossi and Pique go after buying them at young ages.

  24. I watched the 1st half of Barce v Bayern and kept thinking what a shame it was to see our grand master Henry playing wide out on the left wing, but when you have a forward line of Henry, Eto and Messi where else is he going to play and he scored with a good finish even though I think the keeper was distracted by the injury to Messi.

  25. since that fateful day when eboue was booed by literaly the whole of n5 and his dog as he slumped off the pitch literally in tears, my personal opinion is that his fairy godmother turned up at the bottom of his bed that night, and sprinkled some magic stardust into the room!.
    since that fateful day he has looked twice the player he ever was before, with a couple of goals to boot.
    should he carry on in this fine vein of form, he will then, nodoubt, become an integeral part of the arsenal team, and respected for a long time to come.
    some years ago, but not too long ago that the majority of readers wouldn`t remember, another fairy godmother did the same trick with a bagfull of stardust, and that was in a boudoir belonging to a
    certain MR R PARLOUR!!!!

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