It never really was going to be an all-out thrashing, even with a manager sacked within the past few days, but Arsenal did just enough to beat Steaua Bucharest 1-0 on a dark Romanian night.
Having not seen the game, and highlights not exactly forthcoming at this moment in time, I can only go by what others have told me since the final whistle. Steaua did give us a handful of problems, one as early as the sixth minute when Badea headed in a free-kick from the right wing, only for it to be ruled offside. Not a Ljungberg-offside, mind you, a proper offside. Arsenal responded immediately with Hleb laying off the ball for Fabregas seven yards out from the goal mouth, only for the Spaniard to shoot wastefully over the bar.
Five minutes before half’s close, Clichy’s cross from the left deflected off a Steaua defender to wrong-foot the keeper, who clasped the ball on his line but seemed to carry it over with his momentum. Replays showed he had done marginally enough to keep ‘the entirety of the ball’ (thanks to Arsenal.com for that one) over the line. Flamini had a shot saved at the near post soon after.
Chances followed in the second half, with Adebayor getting the faintest touch with a header from a Fabregas free-kick that the Steaua keeper managed to save. Hleb, having only got into the starting-XI after a late fitness test, did not even seem to notice any after-effects from David Noble’s challenge in the last match, as his trickery saw him dominate the midfield. Hleb fired over the bar after van Persie had done the same minutes earlier.
Steaua had one chance to counter-attack, as substitute striker Iacob broke clear of the defence – no offside flag came, but the striker snapped his shot far too much, sending it over the bar. Big sigh of relief, as minutes later, Adebayor broke down the left side to cut back for Robin van Persie to finish for 1-0.
A match dominated, then, bar one or two nervy moments, and an efficient performance on the whole. A win is a win, and we stay top of the group with 6 points while Sevilla win. A good day for the British teams, with Man Utd, Rangers and ourselves all winning. Not that I care for Man Utd, but Rangers were impressive.
After the match, Wenger remarked:
“Steaua were well-organised…it was a question of patience for us. It was a match in which we suffered more than in the previous match against Sevilla.“
While I’d love to harp on about how amazing our sequence of wins is at the moment, it’s all far too distracting when Alisher “What’s wrong with Russian money?” Usmanov is bragging on about how big an Arsenal fan he is, even while admitting he tried to purchase shares in Liverpool and Spurs (the only time I’d ever put them in bold, I promise). The simple truth is that if this were not happening to us, but he was approaching, for argument’s sake, Liverpool, we’d be hearing the same thing about what a big Liverpool fan he is, how in love he is with the club when they lost the 1989 title agonizingly with some Thomas chap squirming like a fish, yadayadayada. On record, he’s a Manchester Utd fan (I recall a reporter’s profile of his office covered in Made in China Man Utd memorabilia), and there is no way this man can be allowed anywhere near the club.
Best intentions? Slap me if that’s true. This BBC report is chilling, especially with the poor sods running around adjusting his coat-tails for him. Will Wenger need to bring him a glass of water every Tuesday for lunchtime meetings? Maybe give him a backrub while he discusses replacing Flamini with Dimitri Sychev because ‘he’s got better skills in Football Manager’ (“yes, Alisher, but Dimitri’s a striker, Flamini’s a mid…”*cue Alisher pounding his balloon fist on the table*). You get the picture.
El Rusko Usmanov Diablo had this to say:
“As a shareholder, and as a fan, I’m going to enjoy it and I will share my experience if our relationship with the club lasts long enough.“
Oh dear, Messrs Hill-Wood and Edelmen, you’ve been caught out, I’m afraid. Usmanov appears to be very much long-term oriented here, not some guy who’s looking to make a profit (only), but thinking he can do a better job than your persons. It’s hardly fun to write any of this, let alone to read it, I’m sure.
His “Don’t compare me to Abramovic” is unnerving, his whole demeanour is unnerving, his arrest-record (jay-walking, last I heard) is unnerving…you get the picture?
The Club so associated with ‘Stability’ and ‘Class’ is being associated with completely the wrong character. If you want a different opinion, go waste your time at Arsenal Muse. I’m sticking my ground on this one.
Oh yeah, and Arsenal won. Did I already mention that? I forgot.