Partizan Belgrade 1-3 Arsenal: Fabianski finally takes his chance

Football is a game of stories.

After a flawless performance that included a marvelous penalty save against Partizan Belgrade, Lukasz Fabianski’s Arsenal story is set to run a little longer.

Arsene Wenger’s consistent faith in Fabianski suggests there has to be a good goalkeeper in there somewhere. For the first time in a long, long time he showed it.

In truth the Pole’s performance was not extraordinary, but his reaction on saving a Cleo’s weak second penalty revealed a man that has clearly been feeling the tension. That Kieran Gibbs, a player who often sits alongside Fabianski on the bench, so whole-heartedly celebrated with the goalkeeper gave an insight into how the rest of the squad may have be feeling about his peculiar predicament.

Prior to Fabianki’s penalty the Arsenal boys put in a rather Arsenal performance.

Sebastien Squillaci, paired here with Johan Djourou for the first time, had a scattered opening quarter of an hour and Partizan Belgrade looked lively, creating a couple of very decent opportunities. But then Andrey Arshavin, linking well with a quick-thinking Jack Wilshere, opened the scoring with a classy finish.

After a difficult start our team began to assert their authority but then Denilson, given a rare start, bizarrely handled in the area and gifted the home side an opportunity to get back into the game. Cleo, in stark comparison to his second penalty, coolly slid the ball home.

Arshavin continued to bubble along while Marouane Chamakh and Wilshere gave him good support. Arsenal always looked the more likely team to score, even if Alex Song had another inconsistent game in the heart of midfield.

When Arshavin slid in Chamakh and the Moroccan fouled it looked like game over, but the Russian missed from spot with his attempt to go down the middle. While the damage was not done directly, Marko Jovanovic’s red card created much space in the Partizan defence and it was only a matter of time before the breakthrough came.

In the end it was Chamakh who got the goal, albeit via two headers from an excellent Tomas Rosicky cross, and Squillaci made it three with his first for the club soon after. The manager looked bemused that he had the audacity to do something as simple as head in from a corner kick.

Then came Fabianski’s moment. Gibbs fouled, Cleo stepped up to give Partizan hope and Fabianski intervened. And then, to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he tipped wide another effort from the home side soon after.

Fabianski still has much to do to prove he is as good as his manager said it was but this was a step in the right direction. With Manuel Almunia injured and Chelsea approaching soon, it could turn out to be a step taken at just the right time.

His story, and indeed Arsenal’s, will go on.

Have your say on Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Partizan Belgrade by leaving a comment.



  1. Let’s not forget his excellent stop at the end as well. Very good for Fabianski, he really really needed that. Having said that, he needs to play like that on a regular basis if he is to regain the faith of the Arsenal fans. At least tonight was the perfect launch pad. Well done Lukasz!

    Decent performance from the team, overall. A bit shaky in the first 10 mins, but after Arshavin scored I thought we were rather good. Wasteful, possibly, but their goalkeeper was impressive. Djourou was much better tonight than against Spurs last week, and once again Chamakh is looking the bargain of the season. I must say, though, I’m not too fond of Song in that advanced midfield role; his passing isn’t good enough and he just isn’t a creator, not in the manner of his illustrious colleagues anyway.

  2. Your comment about Song is a little harsh. Although I will admit he needs to stay back a little more and do the job that he is chosen week in week out to do. But other than him not wanting to sit in the pocket in front of the defense and cut out passes I think his passes were fine and his runs were ok but when he makes those runs and we lose the ball he is never able to get back in time.

  3. I agree with Chris R that Song isn’t great in more creative roles. He is rather creative coming out from the back, but as a more advanced player he lacks something. In fact, or passing looked mostly rather stale all game. When Nasri came on, the differences was quite notable.

  4. With Denilson playing his role in a more disciplined manner, I didn’t mind Song going forward as much. However, my concern is that when he is in the midfield with Diaby and Fabregas, his desire to go far forward (it’s not just that he goes forward, but he is in the box a lot more frequently this season) will cost us. This is especially the case when he is paired with Diaby. Both are DM’s, but we all know that Diaby likes to get forward. Song needs to keep in mind who he is paired with. Even still, for the betterment of the team, he just needs to play a more disciplined midfield position. I hope that Essien keeps Song honest on Sunday for the good of the squad.

  5. Good report and even better win, even if it was a battle. I have very much amired Song especially last season but I don’t like the way he his playing at the moment, does he think he is Arshavin? I prefer the Song who sits in front of the back four and strokes the ball around, he is very, very good at that. Anyway, another good result and we are pretty sure of the knock out rounds. I have a question, does anyone know why our ladies are not playing in the premier league (ladies), I know they are in this European league but that doesn’t start until Feb or Mar?
    Cheers, lets hope for a good result on Sunday.

  6. Well said LAGunner!!!!
    That was exactly the difference b/w WestBrom & Bolton.
    When Song went forward, wilshere took up the responsiblity and his positioning was too gud!
    This was completely a mess when Diaby & Song played together @ emirates. Diaby needs to grow up & Song needs a much better discipline with who he plays alongside!!!!

  7. Excellent result. Haven’t heard about any injuries either! Must be a first. Will Fab be back on Sunday is the big question.

  8. Song still thinks he is Maradona though. Im not happy with that. Why does he do that? And why isnt Wenger talking to him about it?

  9. Hail Gooners! First – Andrew, I think the reason Gibbs got all luvved up with Flappy was because it was his dumb ass that gave away the penalty. Other than that Gibbs had a great game. By George but he’s a good player. The genuine article.
    Second – I personally don’t have a problem with Song marauding forwards – as long as it’s the right situation. This game was actually pretty straight forward for us from the off and once they were reduced to 10 it was plain sailing. In these circumstances I think it’s fine for Song to lumber forwards and of course it creates a new problem for the opposition defence. What we don’t need is Song on his ass in Chelsea’s box while Malouder (translation: bad smell), Anelka (translation: go wherever the money is) and Drogba (translation: horrible c*nt) are rampaging towards our goal.
    Thirdly – AW started with your midfield this time – and what a difference. Jumpin’ Jack Wilshire did more in five minutes than Diaby did the entire time he played against West Brum. This is why Diaby must be kept out of the team as much as possible and only used when we’re really desperate. Don’t let him fool you with his fancy dribbles, guys. He always ends up falling over and giving the ball away anyway.
    Fourthly – I was very surprised to see Arshavin miss a penalty. I thought he’d be perfect. He tried to slot it down the middle. Mmmmm…
    Fifthly (and finally) What about those Partizan fans singing? Have you ever heard the like? fantastic stuff.

  10. Great away win at one of the most hostile football grounds in Europe. It was amazing how the crowd were cheering their team even after the final whistle!!
    Agree with you Andy on Song. Inconsistent once again & drifts forward too often, which can turn out to be costly against a more formidable opposition. Specially pairing him with Diaby would simply be a suicidal act!
    Let’s see how Fabianski would fare against Chelsea. That will be a good test for him.
    JD still looks rusty. Otherwise, good overall team performance. Hopefully, the manager will pick Gibbs on regular basis. He is ready now to be 1st choice for the LB position.
    And in Wilshere a new star is born. Immense!!

  11. very strange bringing Clichy on at the end? Surely a few more minutes for Lansbury would have been better?

  12. Fab’s reflexes were always good. Problems come aerially as he is too clumsy on set pieces, especially corner kicks. Yesterday we conceded very minimal no. of free kicks and corners. So that added to his excellent performance. Let’s see how he adjusts to more physical teams (in the box).

  13. i agree with most things people are saying, great win and very deserved and pretty much good performances all round except a few little things which werent found out to much in this match

    but how amazing was that crowd! it was stunning! at the start with all the flags and their singing all the way through! i realized that for like a 5 min period i wasnt even watching the game i was just listening to the crowd!

  14. I generally disagree the criticism that Song has been getting, he works twice as hard as any other midfielder on the Arsenal squad. He brings physicality, wins more balls than anyone, yet everyone here is crucifying him because they see him makes a few bad passes? How many times have we seen Eboue make the wrong pass? Diaby? Nasri? Arsha?Clichy?
    I think the problem is Song is great when playing with Fabregas (who hangs on to the ball and distributes expertly all around the pitch), take Fab out the game, now you starting to see a game where passes are flowing around slowly, more possession lost, and he cannot cope with all the bad passes that occurs at that point. And when people keep loosing the ball, you will eventually be caught out of position.
    The moment Cesc comes back, is the moment you will see the Song you know, (this used to be the case with Flamini who has now become absolutely uselless lad at AC Milan). Song alone = Average…but with Fabregas, he undeniably the best DM we have!

  15. I agree that Fab needs to put in some consistency. Thought Wilshere, Denilson, and Chamakh had great performances as well. What about when Nasri came on late in the second? He seemed to once again inject a large amount of energy into the team.

    Looking forward to this weekend against Chelsea.

    Party On!

  16. hoho this post makes remember me of hilarious thing my friend got involved in, she walked into soaked hanckerchief, screemed “homoo” and fell down… + food tray flew to shirt of nearby stander, this happened at our wedding hoho…

    Well story short, you’v written quite good article, makes me smile.

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