Arsenal get the result against Twente but miss Flamini’s energy

The performance may have been lacking but the result certainly wasn’t as Arsenal came away from a difficult first game of the new season with a 2-0 win over FC Twente.

After absorbing quite a lot of pressure in the opening hour Arsenal took the lead through William Gallas’ bundled finish before Emmanuel Adebayor added the icing on the cake by tapping home with seven minutes to go. The result means that Arsenal are virtually assured of their place in the group stages of the Champions League after scoring two unanswered away goals.

It was very much a case of a job done as opposed to a job well-done as an Arsenal side that saw a number of players perform well below their best. Indeed, FC Twente had at least three very good opportunities to score and their Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic will be particularly disappointed that he could finish the guilt-edge chance that was fashioned for him midway through the first half.

Twente was gifted with the first real chance of the match when confused defending from Denilson and Gael Clichy (of all people!) gave Romano Denneboom a clear sight on goal. Thankfully for Arsenal he blasted over the bar.

Johan Djourou – who was one of few who performed quite well – soon went off with a blood nose before Twente carved out their best chance of the match through the aforementioned Arnautovic. Gallas was at fault for trying to play the striker offside but with only Manuel Almunia to beat he thankfully miscontrolled and lost his balance and the chance was gone.

Soon after Robin van Persie clattered into the goalkeeper and was down injured for quite a while. When I first saw the reply I was pretty worried that he had sustained a corked thigh or something more serious. But soon after I saw him holding his manhood and I realised that everything would be alright. I think even van Persie would prefer not being able to have another child over missing more game-time. Maybe not, but you get my point.

Then came Arsenal’s best chance of the half when a long range effort from Clichy was spilled by Twente goalkeeper Sander Boschker. The ball fell to the feet of Bacary Sagna but he could only flash a shot wide of the post when he really should have scored.

Sagna’s shot was the last action of a strange first half for Arsenal and an encouraging one for FC Twente.

Not too much chanced after the break as the Dutch team enjoyed more possession and generally looked a better side than Arsenal. But they were made to pay for missing their early chances when Emmanuel Eboue was fouled on the right wing and van Persie whipped in a free-kick that was bundled home by captain Gallas. It was hardly a great finish but another example of the Frenchman being able to find the net at an important time.

Arnautovic had another good chance to score when he got in behind Djourou and Gallas but the Austrian was well closed down by Almunia and could only find the side netting. Afterwards, Arsenal sealed the two-goal win when Gallas’ long ball found Theo Walcott and the winger put it on a plate for the almost anonymous Adebayor to finish low past the goalkeeper.

2-0 it finished and as I said, an excellent result if not an amazing performance.

After the match Arsene Wenger was unsurprisingly delighted with the result and pointed to his side’s ability to keep their heads while the were not in control of the match. In his own words:

“We were a very young team and we did not lose our nerve, did not panic and in the end maybe our technical superiority allowed us to score two goals. That is a massive advantage for the second leg but we will be on our toes.”

And you have to say he’s just about right. It was a young side that played last night and I think at times it really showed. When you consider that the players who made up the midfield were Denilson (20), Ramsey (17), Walcott (19) and Eboue (25 – but acts like he’s about 12) you can understand why the struggled to win the midfield battle on the night.

But as Wenger points out, the younger players keeping their heads allowed more experienced players like Gallas, van Persie and Adebayor to make the difference. Often in important Champions League games like this, that is all that matters.

I think it would be unfair to criticise such an understrength team in the first game of the season when they achieved such a positive result but there is one observation that I made that has me a little worried about Arsenal’s chances of picking up silverware this season. 

A lot of people will argue that the injuries to Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby meant that Arsenal’s midfield was not at its best – but I really felt that the side missed a player like Mathieu Flamini last night. I know there’s not much point bringing up the Frenchman again but I really feel that if Wenger doesn’t bring in a player who can do a similar job to what Flamini did last season then I think we may struggle to match the intensity of stronger opponents.

Anyway, it’s just a small observation to make on an otherwise successful night.

Have your say on Arsenal’s win over FC Twente by leaving a comment.



  1. Actually, the player I thought we missed most was Hleb — we need someone in the midfield who can hold onto the ball and bring teammates in. Much easier to do the Flamini job than the Hleb job, I think any one of Diaby, Song, Denilson, and Ramsey can fill the Flamster’s boots. I realize we’ve signed Nasri to fill this role, and also Rosicky can do it when fit… but it would not surprise me at all if Wenger shocked everyone and bought another tricky winger type like Nasri, rather than another central MF like everyone keeps postulating. He even said “not necessarily a player to play next to Cesc” in his last press conference…

  2. It hurts me to see people prefering Diaby to Denilson in holding midfielder role. I want you to recall Denilson’s first season when his performance was excellent to the extent that there are games i personally wanted him to substitute fabregas or gilberto when they had bad games. Diaby is duping you guys because of his viera like structure but his tackles are careless. Remember the tackle he made on a bolton defender and the most recent one on Sneijder. The other thing that annoys me is the Diarra talk. Do you recall the draw against newcastle and loss to Boro. It was his incompetence that cost us points. In the boro game we only scored a goal after the introduction of Denilson.

  3. It seems pointless to rattle on about players who did not want to play for us Given the team we put out and the opposition, this was a great result. You should give the team more credit. Its how we play as a team that matters not just the individuals. Yes we did not look good at times and we were lucky on one occasion at least- but we ground out a great result despite a huge number of injuries.

  4. @ goonergerry – I agree with what you’re saying. I definitely don’t want to rattle on about not having Flamini – I just think we’re still missing a player who brings the intesity that he did last year.

    Even though Gilberto did a stellar job the season before that I just think that Flamini took our game to a new level and Wenger needs to focus on bringing in someone who can do the same as soon as possible.

  5. last nights game/result was exctly what we lacked the last seasons we’ve come out empty handed…bad game but an otherwise encouraging more thing,little denilson will do the job.we lacked a pires or to some extent hleb type of player and not someone to kick at the heels of oponnents…

  6. Last nights game we failed to control simply beacause of ouir midufield. Walcott-Denilson-Ramsey-Eboue there was no-one to lead the midfield. While i agree we need a new signing we cannot complain about the performance because we didnt have our usual team. Sagna-Gallas and Clichy played and we kept a clean sheet. Ade and RVP played and we scored, but we didnt control the game because our midfield wasnt up to it. we must sign another cm or 2 and a cb.

  7. why r ppl still mentioning flamini? we shuold not mention him we miss our new signing simple coz flamini is past tense 2 us we missed our inler or barry or de la red may be veloso &cana.anyway everybody underperformed except denilson en walcott en definetly as usual sagna en clichy.finally i still like the fact that adebayor always tries 2 be on the scoresheet in all games.what is happening 2 rvp does he want pay rise?

  8. “Eboue (25 – but acts like he’s about 12) ”
    I know I’m late commenting on that one, but kudos SF. 🙂

  9. totally true on Ebuoe but to be honest, i think i like him. He has good crosses and if he can get rid of the acting and learn to release the ball at the right time then we’ll have a unique winger there.
    SF, it is true we lacked a flamini in that game but moreso, we lacked cordination that comes with players ‘understanding’ each other on the pitch. i think people will be surprised on two things:
    1. Song will end up replacing flamini and he’ll be as good as him if not better
    2. wenger will not buy any more players and if he does it will be some tiny kid for some weird country
    3. we’ll see less of Nasri and Vela and more of diaby, walcot and ebuoe
    4. Kolo’s position is in some danger from Djorou & Phil – it would have been gallas but he is the captain
    5. Bentdner will be given a lot of games this time round

    ok, maybe those weren’t two but just mark my words.

  10. Spot on Amerigooner and Nimrod. A player who can hold the ball is more effective than a destroyer in games like this because the other team is getting the ball in our own half and attacking at speed.

    I was in Sevilla last November to watch a similar Arsenal team with eight substitutes be dismantled as Sevilla pressed hard on our midfield (not dissimilar to last Saturday). Last night Twente tried the same thing and were only let down by their inability in front of the goal. With Rosicky, Hleb and Cesc playing that strategy doesn’t work and they run circles around the pressure.

    However, last night there was only Denilson (good, but not quite Cesc). Eboue, who does play well in tight spaces, was mostly absent, and Theo might as well have not played.

  11. Again how many times does ade get pulled up for offside and he wants to get paid the same as henry???? Simple fact is he got a tap in that still hit the bloody keeper and could of gone anywhere from theos run when he got put on the rm he came alive. Bendtner should of got a better run out as he will come good this season but now we have sold hoyte as well so we are very threadbare. I know I said I couldn’t wait to see the youngsters in action this year but I was refering to the cc not the big boys league as they have the skill but not the stamina to go 20-25 games in the league alone.

  12. I know it’s allready been said but “…and Eboue (25 – but acts like he’s about 12)” is just another little piece of brilliance and the reason I read this Arsenal blog and no other.

    As for the holding midfield, I must say I actually think Denni might be the better fit. I think he can fit in to the flow better. He still may be a bit lightweight but I think I’m begining to prefer him to Diaby at least in that position. I have to agree Diaby’s tackling needs big time improvement. If he starts there on a regular basis he’s going to rack up the cards.

  13. @ C-Bass/Grant/astroangel – Glad to see you appreciating my sense of humour! Hahah!

    I was probably being a bit generous though – he really acts like he’s about 9.

  14. about Ade’s offsides, the first one wasn’t an offside at all but it was called..why can’t you talk about that (butterfingers). if you haven’t noticed, adebayor plays in a position that no other striker in the premier league plays (maybe Drogba in his good days did play that position). the position am talking about is where the striker is always shoulder to shoulder with the two central defenders in order to keep them occupied and sometimes coz the defenders just won’t give him space. this gives him a tough time trying to break off and get to a through-pass.look at the likes of rooney and tevez who run all over the pitch from one end to don’t expect to ever find them offside coz they are rarely in a position to be offside. my point is, ade is playing the way wenger asks him to and him getting caught in offsides is more to the position that the coach asks him to player and not the player running in front blindly.

  15. PPL LAY OFF ADE he is puttin in so much for US now and is actually playing his heart so what he hit the keeper he SCORED and thats all that matters ill take 2 nil over 1 nil on an away leg any day.

  16. Flamini who? We didn’t miss him we missed Fabregas above all in this game.We missed Viera Adams but not £lamoney if you seen him play for Milan then you’ll understand what i was saying about Fabregas making him look good.He was a bodyguard to Fabregas Ac milan don’t have Fabregas and now he looks ordinary.We shouldn’t be talking about him anyway.

  17. What I’m getting at he’s playing henrys way by playing off the shoulder and let’s face it not one arsenal supporter on this planet will say he’s anywhere as good as henry. Also everyone is talking about how good he will be when last month everyone was saying get 30 mill and buy villa, santa cruz or poldolski. Fair enough the 1st one wasn’t offside but how many more was there 3-4 maybe. But everyone said theo wasn’t even at the game but who made the goal when he got put on the right side where we all know he’s dangerous just look at milan and luckypool in the cl. But eboue still gets put in ahead of him if arsne tries it with clichy moving him up to lm and putting gibbs in at lb next season I’ll be all for it as clichy is the fastest player in an arsenal shirt and I even remember henry saying he’s quicker at 100m than he is. Almunia is getting better every game as his awareness is great and didn’t get stranded for any of the balls he came out for.

  18. @butterfingers – as much as I agree with your Clichy comment, I would prefer him to be at lb because h cant stop any winger whereas Gibbs cannot. Clichy attacks enough anyway.

    Ade has played his all in the games hehas played so far and yes a lot of people were saying 30 mil for him but thats before his comments about he was on holiday and he wants to stay here and before we saw his effort. He scored 2 v Ajax, the only goal of the game v Madrid and surely secured the cl group stages with the 2nd away goal, Im liking Ade now, also Walcott was hardly in he game, but in the last 25 mins, he defended excelentally and set up good aswell. he loves setting up Ade in the cl doesnt he lol.

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