PSV Eindhoven (0) 1 - 0 (0) Arsenal:|
Philips Stadion, Tuesday 21st February 2007
Champs League knockout stage, first leg
Gallas Toure Senderos Clichy
Hleb (Baptista 75) Cesc Gilberto Rosicky
Another poor result for Arsenal, from another lacklustre display.
PSV looked there for the taking in the first half, little to
offer up front, little strength in defence. But we failed to
capitalize with a performance which lacked any of the
intensity of the great run we'd been on this year, up until
the bore draw
with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Arsenal continually
raise the tempo and pressure the home side in that first half,
letting them pass the ball around in their own half and waiting
till they got well into ours before stopping their attacks. The
latter was easy enough, it's just that the lack or urgency meant
that we didn't create enough to deserve to win the game, despite
looking a far better side.
Tomas Rosicky had a decent game, and went close early on after
a great move. Playing a one-two with Thierry Henry on the
edge of the box he got in on the left and hit a shot low past
the keeper towards the far post. But the keeper got down well
and got a hand on the ball to slow it down, allowing a defender
to get back and clear off the line.
Tommy also tried a far top corner curler from the left later
on in the half, and Henry had a couple of those too. Henry
forced a save late in the half after he'd done well to control a
high ball near the penalty spot and flick it up for himself, but
he was falling and stretching as
he struck the volley and it went straight at the keeper.
He'd also gone on a good run in from the left touchline but
ended it with a weak shot. I actually thought Henry had a fairly
good game, especially in the first half. There seemed to be
3 defenders on him all the time but he kept making things
PSV were mainly restricted to long range efforts which didn't
look like they'd ever trouble Jens Lehmann. They got into
the box a couple of times but Kolo Toure and Philippe Senderos
dealt with it easily enough.
We expected to see Arsenal fired up for the second half but if
anything it was PSV who came out with more belief.
A few minutes after the break a cross from their right went
over Gael Clichy and was met with a volley from Kolo Toure's
international teammate Kone, but he sliced it harmlessly across goal.
Just after the hour, though, they did get through, a low shot from
25 yards by Ecuador international Mendes, which was well struck
and bouncing as it reached the goalline. Almost impossible to save.
Arsenal slowly managed to raise their game again, but PSV were
looking dangerous on the break now. Cesc Fabregas hit a thunderous
shot from the edge of the box after nice interplay with Rosicky,
which the keeper did well to tip over the bar.
Senderos got booked for a comical handball. It was over on the
right wing, near the halfway line, and a striker had beaten
him and left him on the ground. So instead of letting him
start a run towards goal Phil just reaches over and grabs the
ball from the opponent's foot, as if he thought he'd been
awarded a free kick. I don't believe for a second that that's
what Phil thought.
Mendes had another go from long range but it didn't trouble
Jens this time. Julio Baptista came on for the well under-par
Alexander Hleb and got involved fairly well for the 15 minutes
he was on. 10 minutes from time Henry was running from left to
right halfway inside their half when he got fouled from behind.
The ref didn't give it but despite stumbling badly Henry somehow regained
his footing and carried on with the ball. Only to be fouled again.
This time the ref gave it but the free kick was wasted by a tame
shot from the Beast... round the wall but very easy for the keeper.
He took it quite quick and it looked like Henry was pissed off
with him - perhaps he'd planned to take it himself and Baptista
was trying a sneaky one.
William Gallas was poor at right back. He's not a right back.
If we needed his experience why not at centre back where he's
supposed to play? Strange one, and tough on the player to come
back from injury and be used straight away in two different
wrong positions in two games.
Can't really blame anyone in particular for this. Tactically
it just seemed wrong, so perhaps it's Arsene Wenger's fault.
He's put himself in a tricky position now, with all these
great players he's found/created. Because you look at a performance
like this and can't help wondering if the young players who
battled so hard to win that
replay in Bolton last week wouldn't have made mincemeat of
Arsenal ought to be able to win the return leg, but it's going to
be far from easy against the tactical nous of Koeman. PSV should
have top scorer Farfan back too. No giving the opposition a
goal start this time, please.