Arsenal 2-0 Standard Liege  

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

First half goals from Samir Nasri and Denilson gave Arsenal a 2-0 win over Standard Liege and a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Arsenal dominated the opening exchanges with their usual crisp passing football in the group H clash, but their best chance of the opening 15 minutes came via a goalmouth scramble.

A corner was whipped in which was met by a Andrei Arshavin header which was blocked on the line. The ball fell to Carlos Vela who struck the post before William Gallas saw his effort blocked by keeper Sinan Bolat. The ball rebounded to Thomas Vermaelen, whose shot hit Arshavin on the line and went wide.

The visitors came desperately close to taking the lead on 21 minutes when Dieumerci Mbokani cut inside the defender and his shot rebounded off the angle with Manuel Almunia beaten.

On the half hour mark, Cesc Fabregas whipped in a cross for Gallas to head wide, but by heading the ball, he clashed heads with Arshavin leaving both of them requiring a few minutes treatment.

Arsenal took the lead after 35 minutes when a floated ball caused Landry Mulemo slip as he was trying to change direction, which let Nasri in to place his half-volley past the keeper.

The home side were well on top, and they were centimetres away from extending their lead on two separate occasions in the space of three minutes.

First of all, a slide rule pass from Nasri set up Arshavin to hit a first time shot which curled just wide of the post.

Two minutes later, Arshavin turned provider to play in Fabregas, but his cross-shit evaded the sliding Vela and the far post.

Arsenal doubled their lead in first half injury time when Denilson unleashed a 35-yard swerving effort that deceived Bolat and flew into the roof of the net.

Axel Witsel had a great chance to pull a goal back five minutes into the second half after latching onto a quick free kick, but his tame effort was easily kept out by Almunia.

A piece of magic from Vela nearly helped Arsenal net their third goal, but he badly scuffed his shot.

Arsenal coasted the remainder of the half with their lead never looking in any real danger, apart from when Zoro Gohi-Bi struck the post.

The visitors were reduced to ten men in the closing stages when Medhi Carcela-Gonzalez was dismissed for a tussle with Fabregas, and Arsenal saw out the final few minutes to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winners.

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Sunderland 1 Arsenal 0  

Monday, 23 November 2009

England striker Darren Bent fired title-chasing Arsenal to a first defeat in 14 matches as Sunderland battled their way to victory.

Bent struck 19 minutes from time to seal a tight contest after the Gunners had failed to make the most of the possession they enjoyed at the Stadium of Light.

It might have been different had keeper Marton Fulop not denied Tomas Rosicky with a vital fifth minute save.

But the Black Cats battled all the way to the whistle to condemn the visitors to defeat for the first time since 12th September.

Tomas Rosicky and Samir Nasri repeatedly linked with Eduardo and captain Cesc Fabregas, while Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Song kept Lorik Cana and Jordan Henderson occupied in the middle of the field.

The Gunners might have been in front as early as the fifth minute when Fabregas expertly turned Bacary Sagna's deep cross into the path of Rosicky, who forced a good save from Fulop with a well-struck volley.

agonisingly wide

Fabregas whistled a 13th minute drive just over the bar, but Fulop was a relieved man after Song and Eduardo had combined to carve their way into the penalty area with 32 minutes gone.

The pair exchanged passes on the edge of the box and Song continued his run, only to just fail to get a touch to Eduardo's shot as it ran agonisingly wide of the post.

In the meantime, Sunderland had created two chances of their own, both of them falling to Steed Malbranque from left wing crosses.

The first saw him fire just over from full-back George McCartney's ball in, but he skied the second, with Andy Reid this time the provider, high over the bar.

Arsenal resumed in much the same vein as they took the match to Sunderland, although they were still unable to pierce the Black Cats' defence.

But Sunderland produced a flurry of their own, full-back Armand Traore just managing to cut out Henderson's 52nd minute through-ball to Bent and keeper Manuel Almunia coming from his line to claim possession with Reid putting William Gallas under intense pressure seconds later.

under threat

Almunia's goal came under threat once again five minutes later when Reid drilled a long-range free kick just wide, and the Irishman then skied a snapshot high over the bar.

Wenger's response was to replace Ramsey with Andrey Arshavin, and Bruce quickly followed suit when he withdrew Malbranque and sent on Fraizer Campbell.

But it was Sunderland's newcomer who made a swift impact with 71 minutes gone, although he did not know a lot about it.

Bent's header from a Reid corner cannoned back off his legs at the far post and fell perfectly for his strike partner to smash it home before Almunia could get there.

Wenger immediately sent on Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela for Rosicky and Eduardo, but it was Arshavin who very nearly came to their rescue with three minutes remaining.

The midfielder got to Song's cross at the far post, but he could only direct his shot into the side-netting.

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Saturday, 21 November 2009

Robin van Persie is on of several key players missing for Arsneal's trip to face Sunderland.

The Gunners are boosted by the return of midfielder Denilson after the Brazilian's recovery from a back injury.

Manager Arsena Wenger is without left back Kieran Gibbs so Mikael Silvestre is ready to to slot in.

Sunderland head into their clash with Arsenal without suspended duo Kenwyne Jones and Michael Turner.

The Black Cats will welcome Lorik Cana back from suspension while Bolo Zenden could shake off a hip injury to return.

Manager Steve Bruce could be without goalkeeper Craig Gordon (hip) so Marton Fulop is on stand-by.

John Mensah has recovered from a calf injury and could be involved against the Gunners.


Sunderland (from): Fulop, Bardsley, Da Silva, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Turner, Richardson, McCartney, Reid, Malbranque, Henderson, Campbell, Bent, Healy, Murphy, Meyler, Reed, Cana, Zenden, Mensah, Carson.

Arsenal (from): Almunia, Sagna, Vermaelen, Gallas, Silvestre, Rosicky, Song, Fabregas, Nasri, Arshavin, Eduardo, Fabianski, Vela, Traore, Eboue, Denilson, Ramsey, Senderos, Wilshere, Walcott.

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Arsenal transfer target Mesut Ozil: 10 things you need to know about Cesc Fabregas' replacement - plus video of him in action  

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Reports have circulated today that Arsenal have earmarked Mesut Ozil to be Cesc Fabregas' long-term midfield replacement. But what do we know about the undisputed rising star of the Bundesliga?

1) Mesut Ozil was born on October 15, 1988 in the German city of Gelsenkirchen and is a skillful midfield playmaker who can also operate on the wing.

2) After playing for various local sides, his big break came when he joined Schalke 04 as a 17-year old in 2005. As a youngster, his initial appearances were limited to the German League Cup (he'll fit right in at the Emirates, then...), but he quickly broke into the first team, helping Schalke 04 to a second place finish in the the 2006-07 Bundesliga season, and even appearing in the Champions League.

3) Things started to go wrong for Ozil at Schalke when he refused to sign a new contract. When dropping him from the first team had no effect, Schalke had little option to cash in on their prized asset. And so, after just 37 appearances, Ozil joined Werder Bremen on the 2008 January transfer window deadline day for €4.3million - the most expensive transfer fee ever paid for a German teenager.

4) Six months later he missed out on a title win again, as Werder Bremen finished the 2007-08 in second place, this time behind Bayern Munich. To date he's made 48 league appearances for Werder Bremen and chipped in with 7 goals.

5) Unlike many of his potential new young Arsenal teammates, Ozil does have a winner's medal to his name. He starred in Germany's equivalent of the FA Cup last season, scoring the only goal of the final as Werder Bremen beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0.

6) He wasn't quite so lucky in that season's UEFA Cup final, however, as his Werder Bremen side went down 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk after extra time.

7) Ozil is widely regarded as the future of German football, and is known in Bremen as "der Neue Diego" - a reference to his Brazilian midfield partner. This is why:

8) Despite being the son of third generation Turkish immigrants, Ozil pledged his international future to Germany from an early age. He made his his Under-21 debut as an 18-year old, and was an instrumental figure - not to mention goalscorer - in their 4-0 demolition of Stuart Pearce's young Lions in the 2009 European Championship final. Here's his effort:

9) By that time Ozil was already a full international, having made his debut in a friendly against Norway in February 2009. He's won a further four caps since, and bagged his first goal for Germany during this 2-0 friendly win over South Africa in September.

makeArsenal transfer target Mesut Ozil: 10 things you need to know about Cesc Fabregas' replacement - plus video of him in action

10) He's been linked with most of Germany's top sides and several in England - including Manchester United, Manchester City and Aston Villa. However, Ozil has gone on record as saying he'd prefer to sign for... Barcelona.

"I've found Barcelona fascinating, ever since I was small," he told the German press. "Signing for them is a dream of mine." Although if Cesc was to head to the Nou Camp, who's to say Ozil's thoughts wouldn't turn to the Emirates instead?

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Arsenal 3 Tottenham Hotspur 0 In London Derby Match  

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Tottenham Hotspur travelled to the Emirates for the North London derby that saw David Bentley start against his former club.

Robin van Persie gave Arsenal the lead three minutes before half-time. Bacary Sagna’s low cross was attacked by the Dutchman who poked the ball past Heurelho Gomes.

The Spurs keeper will feel that he should have done better as he was beaten at his near post whilst getting a hand to it.

Less than a minute later, Arsenal scored again. A good counterattack from Cesc Fabregas following a Spurs kick-off saw him beat Gomes and give Arsenal a two goal lead.

It was shocking defending from Spurs who practically gifted Arsenal a two goal advantage. It was the sort of play you would expect to find in your local park, not a Premier League football stadium.

Sagna and van Persie combined again to give Arsenal a third on the hour mark. Sagna’s low cross was this time was completely missed by Gomes and van Persie had the simple task of passing the ball into the empty net.

There was no question of whether it was poor goalkeeping on this occasion as-Gomes should have done better. Arsenal were always going to score when he failed.

Arsenal will be extremely happy to have beaten their local rivals comprehensively showing the gulf in class and why they are considered one of the 'Big Four' and Spurs aren’t.

Tottenham will be bitterly disappointed. Not only did they lose to their fiercest rivals but they gifted them three goals. Their defending at times was terrible.

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