A Colourful Win as Arsenal Fans Glimpse Barazite’s Talent

A young Arsenal side came through a testing away-cup fixture against a combative Blackburn side, securing a birth in Wednesday’s Semifinal draw.

At times mesmerising, at times desperate, the team put in a colourful performance to eventually see themselves out as 3-2 victors over their hosts after extra time. On occasion, an immaturity showed in the team’s play that became exaggerated as tiredness set in – total added time to play was 14 minutes, and considering that was on top of the 120 minutes played… – with passes going on astray near the end, coupled with a bad tackle from Denilson that saw him pick up his second yellow of the night.

There is only really a number of issues to deal with, rather than writing up a full match report (A neat report of affairs can be found here).The first half could not have got any better for the second string, though. Five minutes in, Abou Diaby hit Denilson’s right-wing cross in to the ground to beat Friedel from the left – ‘the kids’ were back in force, with Bendtner following up the goal by smacking the post after some wizardly approach play.

-{Barazite appears remarkably assured in the tackle, able to competently pick out a pass and scrap for the ball.}-

This young team did as their more illustrious seniors do, by keeping the ball well away from Blackburn with a long spell of possession, eventually manifesting itself into a goal for Eduardo – Denlison’s bouncing long ball beat the hopeless Samba, finding Eduardo in the box with only Friedel to beat – who scored past the keeper with no problem.

Of course, the in form Santa-Cruz had things to say before half’s end, sliding in to finish Blackburn’s foray to make it 2-1 near the break. The newfound momentum carried Blackburn through a spell early into the second half, culminating in yet another goal for Santa-Cruz, who headed past an ill-placed Fabianski to equalise.

For a moment, Blackburn looked like they had the game turned in their favour – a ten minute spell followed that had Arsenal on the back foot and clinging on for survival. It was not until Mark Randall was replaced by a young Nacer Barazite, however, that the match certainly leveled out from ‘Blackburn look dangerous’ to ‘Anyone could win this’.

For a midfielder-cum-forward, Barazite appears remarkably assured in the tackle, able to competently pick out a pass and scrap for the ball. The twenty minutes that he was on the pitch before falling awkwardly while harrying Blackburn for the ball was very encouraging – what was less encouraging was the stretcher and donned breather-mask they used to stretcher him off with a dislocated shoulder.

-{(Song) has shown steady signs of improvement this season…}-

Nevertheless, it was deep into the first half of extra time that Alex Song threaded a beautiful ball through the Blackburn defence for Eduardo to calmly slot away for 3-2, and the eventual winning goal. Samba, who had had an ordinary match, decided to pop up for a cross on the other end to head the ball straight onto the upright and out – but Arsenal closed off the match with a mixture of calm possession while a man down, and a sprinkling of luck.

To summarise – the centre of defence looked quite composed, with Alex Song and Senderos doing a very adequate job in containing the striking threat. It was the wingbacks that showed some naivety in opening up space for Santa Cruz to score twice, but even then, Hoyte and Traore had very good games. Traore was elegant in his bombing down the left wing, while Hoyte hussled and busied himself around David Bentley’s threat.

Special mention should be made for Alex Song – the boy has come in for a lot of criticism over the past few seasons from his own fans, but he has shown steady signs of improvement this season in this competition – he looked composed on the ball for the most part, and his passing was very accomplished. His assist for Eduardo’s second goal was excellent.

As for Eduardo – I have criticised some of his performances this season, and not without warranting it neither, in my view. Today was much better from him – it will be down to him and Wenger to figure out how to make himself more of a danger in the league, now. Credit to his performance, though – he definitely merited his two goals.

For some, it might have been the first time Arsenal fans caught a proper glimpse of Fran Merida as well – and for the short period he was on, he busied himself around midfield tidily. The attacking spell Arsenal had right at the end had him as a fulcrum, putting in a lofted cross-shot from the right that faded into Friedel’s hands.

Overall, all that matters is that Arsenal are through to the Semi’s. Denilson’s redcard is dissapointing for him, and hopefully it is something he can learn from. Blackburn were clearly using their ‘Arsenal get off easy on the card count’ tactic throughout the match (someone should perhaps show them the ratio of tackles to cards of the last two seasons, and rethink that thought), and at times Arsenal were messy.

But take nothing away from the fact that this young team have impressed immensely yet again. A 3-2 win at Ewood Park where the first team (admittedly, not in their rhythm yet and at the mercy of Lehmann’s mistakes) could only draw is a terrific result, and Wenger will be purring with satisfaction.

The only other news worth reporting after today’s result is that Wenger will not see his touchline-ban extended. He will be on the touch line for whoever we get drawn against on Friday. A bit bizzare, given how much UEFA just love Wenger, and also with Rjikaard’s suspension.

A satisfying result, then. I’m off to eat some pie. Ta.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “A Colourful Win as Arsenal Fans Glimpse Barazite’s Talent

  1. alex

    it wasn’t a second yellow, it was a straight red

  2. Anonymous

    it was bendtner not denilson who crossed for diaby’s goal, with yet another bergkamp-esque pass that he seems to do every match but never get credit for

  3. Ryan

    Song was immense last night. He played like Toure. Nobody can say if he’ll play that well every week, but in his defense he’s played at least satisfactorily well in every appearance this season, if not better- and last night he was just sublime.

    I thought Senderos was awful. He did plenty of good things to his credit, but far too often his lack of ability to read the game exposed our defense. I mean I think there were at least two ocasions where he was far too slow stepping up and played their forwards onside in dangerous positions. Ok maybe awful is unfair, but certainly he was a mere shade of his true potential and it was pretty disappointing from him, especially as he was captain. He was without a doubt one of our weaker players.

    To be honest I don’t really know why people are so happy to change their minds about players so quickly. If they would stop jumping to big conclusions about them so quickly in the first place maybe it wouldn’t be required. I mean as for Eddie’s “improvement”… for a striker who’s rarely played, been used largely on the left wing, is new and not entirely settled or used to the pace of the games etc he has a superb scoring record. Yes sometimes he gives the ball away a bit disappointingly, but he also holds the ball up nicely pretty often too. I have no idea why people begin to act all impressed when he gets two chances and scores two goals, in almost every game he’s played up front for any lengthy period it’s been the same story.
    People have to stop expecting him to play like Henry and tear defenses apart and accept that his wages are paid for him to poach goals, pretty much nothing else. Anything other than that is a bonus and when he’s on the left wing people should stop expecting him to play like it’s his natural position and accept that maybe he can’t play that position, he can’t defend to save his life and his ability on the ball varies from impressive to not so. He’s a goal poacher who should be up front, that’s all there is to it.

  4. Ryan

    …and that’s 7 goals for him so far this season I believe. That’s what Hleb and Rosicky’s combined total (or not far off) and he’s barely even played, let alone up front, let alone in the actual first team in a 4-4-2!

  5. jammathon

    You’re clearly quite passionate about Eduardo there, Ryan. Heh.

    Regular readers will know that I’m not one to expect Championship manager-esque miracle players to just step out and weave gold immediately before my eyes. Eduardo is still being nested into the side, and will take some time to adapt to England, of this I have no doubt. His talent is there, as demonstrated in his performances for Croatia.

    And yes, he has scored seven goals, though your combined tally of Rosicky and Hleb is still greater than his. What’s more, they’ve scored in the league, which Eduardo has failed to do. Want to know which competition I think is more important?

  6. Ryan

    How many games has he played up front in the league consistently for any length of time?

    He can’t score if he’s not on the pitch (or up front). When RvP got injured Ade played up front alone most of the time. It’s hardly his fault for not scoring if Wenger was choosing not to play him. Not to mention although I would admit the league is more important than the CL, he has two goals in that as well, including that nice goal away at Sevilla. It’s really not exactly a disappointing introduction he’s had into the team. I think people just like to think he will be far more influential in games than he will be.

  7. jammathon

    It is true that he has not been able to string a bunch of games together (yet). Unfortunately, it all depends on what the opposition we are facing is, and what the injury situation is with regards to the Ade/RVP partnership.

    If the former is out, Eduardo has a chance. The latter – Arsenal naturally revert to a 4-5-1, and Eduardo either plays on the left wing (a no-no), or not at all.

    Still, Im very impressed with his performance tonight. Im not one expecting results either now or never – Im happy to give him time to push for a starting birth.

  8. Ryan

    I wish we wouldn’t use the 4-5-1 so hastily. Ade is very useful to have in the team but he drops very deep and comes out wide to get involved in the build up. When your only huge player and likely heading threat alone up front is spending so much time out of the opposition penalty area it makes it hard work for us to find goals. Crosses aren’t worth much unless he will stay in the box more and leave the build up play to the midfield more often. It’s for that reason that if RvP is out I’d much rather see Eddie get some chances with Ade and Hleb on the right instead of the sporradically brilliant/shit/diving Eboue.
    I think if given some time the partnership of little and large could be killer if RvP is out, since in Ade we have a defense terrorising, fast, creative lunatic who can hold up the ball and win it in the air and supply the man who was born to score.

    For the record I checked the official Arse site and Eddie’s record in total is something like 18 appearances 7 goals in all competitions. Considering many of those have been sub appearances and 3 goals came in the CL I consider that a great record. His goals/starts ratio is along the lines of 1/2. and one final point for him some of his goals were actually very nice, like the Sevilla one and the rocket in the Carling cup. Well it’s not that I love Eddie so much, but rather I’m sick of seeing people pass big judgments on players after 1) they’ve barely even had a chance 2) they’ve actually done their job very well

    It’s the case with Song. REGARDLESS of if he played a few howlers in the past, all of his appearances this season have been in the very least good and yet after about 5 games of ‘goodness’ when he plays great people act all shocked that he isn’t perhaps totally shit afterall. If they bothered to watch the previous games they’d have found that he’s not been shit at all this season.

  9. Eduardo showed what his all about and now its up to Wenger to make up his mind about where to play him and with whom, Barazite, Gibbs, Randall and Merida are Gems i tell. Their touches, awareness and All round Skill is amazing. i now understand why Wenger will say am not buying when the transfer window opens both in the summer and winter

  10. TonyB

    Gotta agree with Ryan here . . . when played in position (and given the service) Eduardo hasn’t failed us.

    Try to remember what Bergkamp, Henry, Hleb and Rosicky were like in their 1st season (and please do try to recall the mauling Hleb was taking from fans last season). That gives you an idea of what a cracking job Eduardo is doing, again, when given the chance in the right position, formation, etc.

    Obviously, as time passes and he settles more, he’ll be able to adapt to different positions & tactics, but it is early days and it’s no big surprise to me that he delivers best when he’s in familiar territory.

    Song . .. hmmm . . I never rated him, but I have to agree that last night (for 90% of the time, anyway) he was magnificent. When he carried the ball 10-15 yards to play the pass for our 3rd . … it was just great to watch. He took responsibility, he actually started to carry the team . . it was almost like watching him come of age. His lapses of concentration are still a worry, although that’s nothing compared to watching Senderos. That guy is just another Cygan.

    Now . .. . who fancies giving Spurs another hiding in the semis?

  11. jammathon

    Eduardo is being given time – maybe not by some other fans, perhaps. It’s amazing how many people come on here saying ‘we dont need flamini’, for instance.

    Should Liverpool beat Chelsea tomorrow, I’d bet anything it will be a meet up between Arse/Tottenham and Everton/Pool. Wouldnt that be nice?

  12. Ben

    Great match, so awesome to see the young guns doing their absolute best. It was definately a straight red though. An Spurs/Arsenal Pool/Everton tie would be great but either of those as the final would be better.

  13. Frichie

    What? no mention of Diarra’s performance. while I thought the whole team played well, Diarra really ran non stop- and when we went down to 10 men, he had a lot of extra work. He didnt give up. He controlled the first half, and ranted he did start misplacing passes and missing tackles in ET, but who can blame him, it was taking every ounce of energy just to get his body close enough to disrupt blackburn,

  14. Casicky

    Diarra was immense we clearly cant lose him,his too good. he jus has to be patient for the league.he won mor eheaders in tht midfield than anyone and seein him standing close to Bendtner after the game i jus dont understand how he won them headers…and so di d Song it was nerve wrecking but brilliant to watch.

    i really want this cup,because i feel it will give the squad another boost that will push them further towards the league.i really think we can do it and we should do it

    bring on those cunts on saturday um sure the 1st team will be up for it,and a bench with Bendtner,Diaby and Walcott will always give us another dimension

    We Gunner Gunn Em…

  15. TonyB

    Hope we do get the no-hopers from down the road . . . then our 1st and 2nd teams could have their own competition on who can beat them by the bigger margin . .. 😉

  16. (artist formerly known as)eboue's hand

    Haven’t been on here in a while so read a lot of entries to catch up. with regard to Sunday’s match, I can’t fully understand the effusive praise of Almunia. I’m not one of those twats who thinks Lehmann should automatically be back in on the strength of things he did two years ago but I felt that Almunia simply made the saves we would expect him to make, and that outright vitriol would have been levelled at him since the match if he hadn’t done so. Shevchenko’s free-kick at the end was certainly hit hard, but it was more or less straight at Almunia and I, for one, would have been furious if he hadn’t stopped it. So while I’m not trying to put down Almunia at all, I simply feel he did exactly what he is supposed to do, and what any competent top-level keeper should do. Just like Fabianski did last night and just like Lehmann did against Steaua last week. I still feel we have healthy competition for the keeper spot and its a very good thing.

  17. Ed

    I am surprised you are singling out Barazite, because he looked slow on the tackle to me… in fact the only reason he was harrowing was because he was always late to the ball. Merida was better in his brief cameo, IMO. He picked out a few nice passes, did a double cryuff turn in the penalty area to create space and delivered a nice cross.