Arsenal 5-1 Shakhtar Donetsk: Cherries and chocolate sauce

Last night’s 5-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk was one of the easiest European victories in recent seasons. We’ve thumped Slavia Prague 7-0, crushed Braga 6-0 and thrashed countless other teams, but it is hard to remember a more comfortable Champions League fixture than Shakhtar, a club that I believed to genuinely threaten us for top spot in the group.

I must admit that I missed the opening twenty minutes of this fixture including Alex Song’s goal (a quick note to anyone who plans to travel to Berlin and use the S-Bahn: Oranienburger Strasse is not the same station as Oranienburg), but the consensus in the pub was that we were in complete control from the get-go. I also have to admit I laughed when I found out the goalscorer – Song! Again? Who does he think he is? – and chuckled even more when I caught a replay of the goal.

The return of our brilliant captain obviously had a big impact on the game. He formed a terrific midfield triangle with Jack Wilshere and Alex “Batistuta” Song that buzzed with energy, creativity and most pleasingly, physical presence all night. It reminded me of the days before Aaron Ramsey’s injury: three players in the middle with excellent technical skill, who can all tackle and were willing to do so at every opportunity.

Despite having plenty of the ball Shakhtar never came close to challenging the influence of our midfield and it was no surprise we went in at half-time two goals ahead after Samir Nasri popped in a second. Dario Srna should have done better with the cross but Nasri’s finish, like Marouane Chamakh’s winner against Birmingham, was that of a man in form.

My favourite "Everyone loves Eduardo" photo of the night

The biggest surprise of the night was the absence of Eduardo from the Shakhtar starting team, but by the time he was introduced to the fold it was 3-0. Johan Djourou was hauled down by Luiz Fabiano (who seems to have stolen his looks from Manchester United’s Anderson and his name from Sevilla’s Luis Fabiano) and Fabregas powered home a perfect penalty into the top-left corner. I felt some sympathy for Nasri at this moment: it seems he is very much back to second in the penalty-kick pecking order.

Eduardo’s introduction initially did nothing to slow the Arsenal assault as Wilshere and Chamakh added the fourth and fifth shortly after. Wilshere finished off a delicious move with the goal of the night, switching off his targeting computer after hearing the ghost of Obi Wan Carlos Vela to clip home a perfect chip. Meanwhile Chamakh was released by another beautiful pass, this time by Nasri, and had time to check if he was onside before bundling the ball home.

With the game safe at 5-0 there was only one man that the crowd wanted to see get a goal, and he wasn’t playing in red. Eduardo obliged, firing in a technically-perfect, immaculately-controlled half-volley to give the crowd what they wanted. It’s hard to criticise the manager’s decision to let Eduardo go when his replacement, Chamakh, has been so impressive, but the quality of his goal left me thinking of what could have been had he not been so badly injured. I suspect Eduardo may have been thinking the same.

So 5-1 it ended and as far as preparations for Sunday’s crunch game with Manchester City, this was as perfect as it gets. Three of our key creative players – Fabregas, Nasri and Chamakh – were given an early bath while Andrey Arshavin and Abou Diaby were given nights off. Injuries aside, that will be the front five who starts against City and it is a great bonus that they will be in such excellent physical shape.

All in all a wonderful night of European football, given an extra cherry on the top by Eduardo’s cameo and some extra chocolate sauce with the successful return of Fabregas.


Have your say on Arsenal’s 5-1 win over Shakhtar by leaving a comment.


The editor and chief writer of AFCB, Andrew Weber is the man who started it all. An analytical and thoughtful writer, Andy has been entertaining readers of the blog for over three years and is also a keen football culture connoisseur.



  1. A very pleasing win against a team, like Braga, who came to play, which was their undoing. As many others have mentioned, this was a more efficient performance as Diaby and Arshavin were not in the starting line-up, which must mean they will be on Sunday. Wilshre will not play, but who will then assume the defensive shield position with Song in our 4-2-3-1? At 18 years old,Jack has no doubt had to play there as Diaby cannot, or will not, assume that responsibility. With Song increasingly thinking his job is to score goals, no wonder our midfield indiscipline costs us in the League. After 150 games for us Diaby has to deliver consistently, as Nasri is now doing. But, one good game in five and a lazy and uncommitted attitude, has left me thinking he does not deserve an automatic position in the big games. We need 100% energy and focus, not crass comments on how he dreams of winning the Ballon D’or. But some players appear to be un-droppable, maybe they do “great tings in training” that would be it! Also, apart for Partizan, Rosicky has played pretty well either as sub or starting, but again, in the big games Wenger will not start him, preferring Arshavin. We could be bullied in midfield on Sunday and with the likes of Tevez, Silva and Johnson running at our defence, I’m fearful of the consequences. I’m sure Chelsea will have demolished the awful Wolves without breaking sweat,so they could be eight points ahead by the time we play. As Fabregas says, three points are a must, but who’s confident.. asking your head not your heart?

  2. Fantastic team performance yesterday, against a team who will cause us problems on their home patch. Did anyone notice the strength of our bench, its been a long time since we’ve had a fully fit squad, only a couple more to come back into the fold & i don’t mean Almunia. What was Song thinking about with that back heel? Nasri gets better and better, his technique is a joy to behold. Chamakh looks like he is settling in nicely & scoring more goals than most of us expected. Wilshere, what a little gem of a player, i like the fact that he’s not scared to put his foot in. Special mention to Djourou, he didn’t have a lot to do but he has all the attributes to be a good CH, just needs an experienced player alongside to guide him along. Arsenal look a completely different team when EL Capitan Fabregas is playing, he’s a class act, lets hope his class rubs off on Wilshere & Ramsey before he leaves. I would like to see JET & Lansbury go on loan if they are not getting any games, hopefully they will both play against Newcastle in the cc, in my opinion there both a better long term option than either Denilson & Bendtner.

  3. Looking at Eduardo made me sad, as you said what could have been. Again I have to comment on Jack, he is looking like the real deal head hocho el cahuna. Jack looks so much better than a pre broken Ramsey.

    Anyway I woke up from a nightmare this morning, dreamt Spurs won at San Siro *shudders*. Even in dreams Spuds will annoy you. Go Away annoying chihuahuas.

  4. Well thats for sure now chamakh is gonna give a run for RVP, when he is fit, this might also be on account that wenger might start the both of him, so the verdict is on the likes of Diaby and Walcot and nasri and also arshavin to prove themselves till then. Also its gonna be hard for ramsey to beat young wilshire in the picking order he has been awesome and consistent.

  5. Worst thing that could have happened was Song scoring. Now he’ll start thinking he is Messi again, and we need his strength at holding mf. If City play Tevez alone up front like they did last Sunday, we should be okay if we don’t get caught upfield. Really like Squillaci’s savvy back there. when do Kos and/or TvM come back?

  6. @ John jay pittman – Oh, come on. He scored from a set piece! He played a lot more sensibly with Cesc back in the side, which suggests to me that Wenger has been encouraging to push forward more in the captain’s absence. He might not score again this season – let him have it!

  7. I have to agree with Andrew, little harsh John? Song worked his socks off last season, and quite frankly he merits a couple of goals under his name. He may have been a little more eager this season to push forward, but I have absolutely no doubt that he fully comprehends that he plays a rather defensive role. And if you noticed the three central midfielders interchanged quite a bit. When two were pushing forward one remained behind to guard the back four. He is undeniable our best defensive midfielder, however he does merit to score just like the rest of the team.

  8. good night for the gunners, but w aint able to repeat it in big EPL matches.i still have misgivings abt A song, i must admit i dont fancy him, he toys around wth the ball, concedes position and we are counter attacked.also tends to venture foward a lot wch leaves us exposd, i rather he sits in front of the back 4, we hv capable players up front

  9. Just thank God that Diaby did not play. He would have use his dribbling to spoil the ball. He should learn and improve on his game forthwith. As small as wilshare is, he kept improving but Diaby kept holding to ball and giving it out. Just whish wilshare wasnt given red.

  10. I was fortunate enough to be at that game, the team performance was fantastic, and to have five different goal scorers really typifies the confident style that we’re exhibiting at the moment, with players interchanging positions and creating numerous scoring opportunities. That said, we managed five goals from nine attempts, and six on target, which is a lot more clinical than most of the detractors would like to believe. If we can maintain a good goal to shot ratio, as well as taking opportunities to shoot on rather than over elaborating (Rosicky’s dummy on the edge of the box is a great example), Chelsea can definitely be caught.

    I was struck by the movement off the ball of two players in particular, both playing as the lone striker. Chamakh’s work rate was exceptional, closing down both channels with astonishing regularity, as well as tracking back to win the ball in advanced midfield positions (6 in 6 CL games also deserves a mention!). However Theo, who came on for the last 20, displayed his tendency for tactical ineptitude in his runs when we had the ball in attacking positions. His pace is wonderful, but if he doesn’t put himself in the positions to utilise it properly, Walcott is really wasting his gifts. I still have a lot of hope for him, but the difference between his movement and Wilshire’s, shown most clearly in the build up to the goal, is extreme.

    All in all, an excellent performance, and brilliant for Eduardo to get a goal. What could have been indeed…

  11. Am very excited the way young Gunners played last night in Champions league against Shakhtar Donetsk FC despite the goal being scored by the former gunner i.e Eduado da Silva who deserved that only single goal for his team. I would like them to play like that during premier league game in this coming weekend against Man city fc.

  12. Couldn’t ave been easier. Why were they trying to play footy against you any way? Some sexy goals scored, a game made in heaven for your boys. Back to the EPL with a bump.

  13. @ Adam I was in the match too. It was great both because of the great win/atmosphere and Eduardo. What a great guy he is. It’s a shame he’s gone. Guys leave Song alone. He’s working hard and I’m sure what he’s doing is supported by Wenger. See the above comments supporting Alex. Also he scored the first goal, which is always very important. I just can’t believe that some people are still crying, instead of enjoying this win. Now let’s concentrate on the Man City match. That’s gonna be a tough fight, but we can win it, if we concentrate hard.

  14. Couldn’t stop the tears flowing when Eduardo scored; what a reception from the Arsenal fans, we all stood, clapped our hands off and sang the “Eduardo song’ for all we were worth. Don’t know many clubs where that would have happened but he will always have a special place in our hearts. As for the negative comment about Diaby, if you go to the games (perhaps you do but it doesn’t sound like it) you should watch how much work he does off the ball, filling gaps and making himself available for the ball out of defence, and once he has it how often other players fail to run off him to give him the pass he is looking for.

  15. I think the reason Song was able to push forward was because Wilshire was playing so deep. Wilshire won’t be there against City which means that Song either has to resume his normal role as you can’t rely on Diaby, or you play Denilson in the Wilshire spot – his distribution is pretty good and he is more disciplined than Diaby. The question is does Arshavin merit a start? He has been indifferent lately and maybe Walcott should play from the start and see if he can pick up where he left before this injury. I also thought Djorou is improving with game time and Fabianski is looking more assured (although I hope I am not tempting fate here!). My team keeping in mind injuries would be Fabianski, Eboue, Squillaci, Djorou, Clichy,Song, Denilson, Fabregas, Nasri, Chamakh, Walcott. I would have Vermeulen, Wilshire, RvP as definite starters if they were fit but that ain’t the case. Rosicky on the bench – I think he’s greeat but can’t see a spot for him to start.

  16. Not knocking Song’s effort or ability in any way, just where he applies it. Wilshere was great at holding as Song was last year, including one match at center back if memory serves. denilson has savvy for that spot but is not always physical enough, and Jack will not be available(not whinging, these things happen) and when do Kos and TvM come back?

  17. Arsenal’s great performance should be carried to Man City this week end. I am a bit concerned about Djorou handling Tavez if he plays. With the form Adebeyor is in, the both (Tevez and Ade) could cause us some problems. All in all a draw would suit us fine. A win will be better.
    Hats off to Eduardo…he is still a Gunner at heart, ,see no celebration after his fantastic strike. It was other way around., our supportes acknowledged this. If he is on loan, he will be back .

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