As I mentioned in yesterday’ preview, I would have been very surprised if we couldn’t nick a goal or two away at Parkhead and so it proved that we did in fact become the first English side since Nottingham Forest in 1983 to nick a win at Celtic.
But in the end, it took a couple of fortunate deflections to seal the win, but as the guy from East Lower said, those were lucky goals but the win is by no means lucky as we made our own luck by dominating proceedings especially in the second half.
It turned out all the injury doubts that was Denilson, Sagna and Fabregas were unfounded and they all started to make the lineup unchanged from the one that demolished Everton on Saturday.
Celtic sprang a surprise in their lineup by putting their winger Aiden McGeady up front in the centre with Georgios Samaras. I suppose this was Tony Mowbray’s “cunning plan”, to maximise their attacking threat at home by fielding their best technical player up front where he can do the most damage.
Let’s dissect the game in points, as always:
1 – Arsenal is looking more and more solid defensively.
Vermaelen is doing all the right things at the moment. Together with Gallas, whom Vermaelen said is the main reason why he is adapting so well to the Arsenal team, they make a really solid looking pair. I don’t remember seeing a stronger defensive partnership since the Sol Campbell-Kolo Toure days and that is really something. Although it is still early days but we have faced two not-too-shabby opponents so far and both away games and they have impressed. This is encouraging and again shows why Arsene Wenger always know best, even when he came under fire for letting Toure go. Even Wenger is surprised at the impressive form Vermaelen is showing.
2 – Alex Song impressed again.
Alex Song has shown positional maturity on top of his tough physicality, which was missing from his game last year. He has made Celtic’s midfield look inferior and Massimo Donati was made to look so bad he had t be substituted before the hour is up. Song’s form and tactical development is a big reason why the team is looking stronger defensively as well.
3 – Arsenal scored 8 in two games, but none from the strikers (bar Eduardo in 17 minutes of action)
Our attacking trio of Arshavin, Van Persie and Bendtner has yet to deliver goal-wise, although all three have played a part in the goals we have scored. The names of Arshavin and Van Persie would have made a lot of defences nervous and rightly so, the two being world-class technical players. It is pretty clear from the two games we have played that Arshavin was tightly marked given his impact inthe second half of last season. However, I still feel 4-3-3 is the way to go and Arshavin is a mobile player who will make this work for himself and his attacking colleagues. They have also given the midfield more chances to score and that can only be a good thing as one of the major reasons why we suffered in certain attacking players’ absence last season was the fact we couldn’t get enough goals from midfield. Remember we still have Vela and Walcott to return who will freshen up the attacking 3 even more.
4 – Diaby came on for Arshavin as an attacker.
I had included Diaby as one of the midfielders for the season ahead andI have also said how his own game, which is more focused on offense but at the same time in a central role but his experience on the flanks also meant that he can suit the current 4-3-3 system as part of the midfield trio. During the game, Diaby (looking weird with hair) came on for Arshavin and was immediately thrust into offensive action. I can see his technical game being used in attack but I feel he would be more effective in midfield and can add more strength in the centre of the park as well. We will see where he will feature more as the season progress but whatever the case, thanks to the new 4-3-3 formation, we won’t have to see Diaby being put on the flanks again.
5 – Eduardo pulled out and Jack Wilshere took over his place on the bench.
It is a worry that Eduardo had to pull out of the squad at the last minute, it could be a pre-caution given his history of injuries, or it could be something worse. Whatever the case, let’s hope he returns quickly. It is worth remembering he is the only Arsenal striker who have scored in the new season so far. We have yet to see Jack Wilshere in action in the new season but it is still very early days. I have no doubt we will see more of him as the season progresses, especially when we enter packed fixtures.
All in all, another good away win that will stand us in good stead when we entertain them at the Emirates for the second leg. I think there will still be more goals in this tie, but it would be good for the team’s confidence if we can keep another clean sheet.