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A few thoughts on the Galatasaray away match

December 10, 2014

The last round of matches in the Champions League Group stage, saw Arsenal needing Dortmund to lose at home to Anderlecht or at best a draw and Arsenal winning 6-0 to qualify as group winners.

I doubt many of us Supporters or indeed the club thought it would be a realistic chance of happening, so with that in mind Arsene left a many of the first team players in Blighty for a rest, rightly so and took a number of the youth players to Turkey to face Galatasaray.

Arsenal lined up as follows : Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Bellerin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini, Ramsey, Campbell, Sanogo, Podolski. Subs: Martinez, Zelalem, Akpom, Iwobi, Kamara, Maitland-Niles, O’Connor. I must admit I was somewhat surprised that this was not one of Champions Leagues earlier 6pm kick-offs as most of Arsenal subs bench should be in bed by 10pm.

Welcome to Hell!!! Well for whatever reason it hardly looked or sounded like Hell. The Stadium was half empty and though the Turks can make a right old noise at times it did not seem (on TV anyway) that there was some kind of Hell fear factor for the team to worry about.

Arsenal played some very good football in the first half, good passing, winning the ball and lots of power and pace going forward, but maybe the dead rubber situation of the group had also got to the Galatasaray players, who, no matter what happened would finish last in the group and therefore take no further part in European football this season.

Arsenal pretty much dominated the first half proceedings. In the third minute a forceful run by Ramsey saw him roll the ball into Podolski’s path where the German hammered his left foot shot into the roof of the net. Had the keeper got his hand to it, his hand would have broken. This is what Podolski does, he shoots, he shoots the ball with power and let’s face it we certainly need more of that. The only issue with Podolski is he is pretty lazy and drifts out of the game. However, you cannot argue with two goals.

After eight minutes  Oxo won the ball and ran powerfully forward, laid the ball into Ramsey’s path, one touch and Ramsey hits the ball across the keeper, simply passing the ball into the far corner 2-0 Arsenal!! Arsenal were keeping Galatasaray to long-range shots, though the Turks did miss a sitter after the ball bounced around in the area and fell nicely for the Galatasaray player, who should have scored but could only hit his shot wide.

Another run from Oxo and a pass that again set up Podolski whose shot this time smashed against the bar. On thirty minutes Arsenal got a corner, nothing normally for the opposition to worry about (lol’s). The ball is crossed in, cleared and there –  thirty yards from goal is Aaron Ramsey who hits the ball as sweet-as-you-like and the ball travels like a bullet into the roof of net 3-0 Arsenal!!!

That was pure-football-porn, obscene! I sat there with my jaw dropped at what I had just seen. I’m not one for using superlatives where they are not needed, but I think a few more should be invented for a goal like that. Brilliant/Fantastic/Wonderful/Amazing/Magnificent take your pick.

We all see long-range shots scored week in-week out and to be honest it’s hard to pick the best from the bunch, but the way Ramsey took it, his body shape, the distance, the half volley side on, the speed of the shot, the trajectory, the way the ball rose from his foot to the roof of the net in a perfect upward line as it travelled the 1.1 second it took from his foot to nestle in the back of the net. I really did witness one of the truly special goals, made all the better when it’s one of your own.

Half time 3-0.

Ramsey was taken off due to a tight hamstring and Flamini had been booked a calf strain so also went off. After Arsenal had given the Turks both barrels in the first half, they now brought on the double-barreled Ainsley Maitland-Niles and  also Gedion Zelalem. Arsenal’s average age reduced to around thirteen.

At half time in the other game in the group Dortmund were drawing 0-0 at home to Anderlecht and therefore if that result stayed the same till full-time Arsenal would need another three goals to progress as group winners. Yet what we got was safety first. The team simply did not even try to go forward, the job had been done the result really did not matter. Every time Arsenal tried to come out of defence they lost the ball. Sanogo could simply not hold the ball up and Galatasaray just keep coming back at us. Even when we had the ball at our feet it was like taking candy from a baby for the Turks.

Now of course there is some mitigation allowed with youngsters playing, however, the lads who came on I thought looked technically good but weak . Debuchy was replaced by 17-year-old Stefan O’Connor and still nothing from Arsenal, not even a shot in anger.

Galatasaray had thirty-two shots at goal and if they had bothered to put their shooting boots on this could have been a very different second half. As it was a combination of poor finishing, the wrong ball, some good blocks by Arsenal defenders, one great one from the BFG, kept the Turks  out. Then with three minutes left a free kick for Galatasaray is walloped into the net by Sneijder to make it 3-1. Yet it was to be Arsenal who had the last say in the match as Podolski and Sanogo exchanged passes for Podolski to slide the ball into the net for 4-1 and this was the last kick of the match.

A very good win and hopefully a good confidence booster with that now being four wins in five. Yet I suppose maybe I’m being overly critical when I ask –  why did we not go for it? Why when you need three goals do you simply sit back and invite the opposition that you ripped apart in the first half back into the game? The manager said we lost Ramsey and Flamini so we lost something, but if we were going through as second anyway, why not just send whatever the team is out for the second half and go for it, so what if they scored a couple of goals at least we would have given it a go.

I think it’s just another strange decision by the management that are simply happy to be in the draw on Friday. I see Ramsey has said Arsene has taken some stick so it was nice to get the result for him. Nice words for the manager, but whose fault is it Arsenal have been playing poor football this season and why the manager has been taking some stick? If Ramsey feels the lads did it for Arsene, why did they not also do it at Stoke and a few other games?

Look I make no bones I would like a change of manager, yet I would also like the manager to change if possible. I’m open to being made a fool off by the manager, because if that happens then it more than likely means I’ve been wrong and if I’ve been wrong it more than likely means Arsenal are doing well. Yet this season more than any other in recent years Arsenal have not even got going. The games Arsenal do win are against teams that are struggling, teams that are even playing worse than Arsenal. We’ve won four of the last five, yet two were champions league matches where the two teams we played might not have been up for the fight and both are not setting the world on fire domestically.

I really do hope Arsenal can start playing their football soon. I do hope Arsenal get some injured players back and those players stay injury free. I do hope save Wilshere, Arsenal don’t lose anymore players. I hope Arsene enters the transfer market in early January, not January 31st. I hope Arsene gets the right players – if he does enter the market. I hope that if Arsenal have a good run between now and the start of the transfer window that Arsene doesn’t see that as vindication of his position in not strengthening last summer in defence and simply not buy anyone in January.

I reckon if Arsenal got most players back fit and added a couple of more players in the right positions then who knows what the team can achieve with a good run in the second half of the season. I’m not holding my breath because this season I’m never really sure what Arsenal is going to turn up for matches as we are so up and down it’s crazy.



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