Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Arsenal 6 Braga 0: Cesc Fabregas fires Gunners to stunning Champions League win


By Martin Samuel Chief Sports Writer

Spot on: Cesc Fabregas converts a first-half penalty to send the Gunners on their way at the Emirates

It would be nice to announce that Arsenal were irresistibly stunning on Wednesday night and that no team could have withstood their onslaught, but this would be a lie. Arsenal were just … Arsenal.

They passed beautifully, thought inventively, attacked imaginatively, as they do almost every week. Sometimes in the Premier League they do all this and still lose; on other occasions they are made to scrap until the last minute. Against the lamentable Braga of Portugal, however, it proved more than enough.

Arsenal went through them like the proverbial warm knife through dairy products. Butter might have put up more resistance actually, certainly had it been left a long time in the fridge. Milk would have turned quicker than many of Braga's defenders.

So how easy was it? Well, in the 54th minute, Cesc Fabregas won the ball in the heart of the Portuguese defence and laid it out to Andrey Arshavin on the right.

Arshavin had enough room to reverse park an articulated lorry on his flank but instead toyed with the ball until Fabregas had established himself, inexplicably unmarked, in the centre of the six-yard box. Fabregas simply waited for the ball to come and score a goal.Arshavin duly chipped it across and he headed it into the net.
That was Arsenal's fourth.

Some of the others took a bit more work, but you get the general idea.

Braga deployed the same formation as Rangers at Old Trafford on Tuesday - 9-1, as Fabio Capello calls it - but with considerably less success.

From Russia with love: Andrey Arshavin celebrates after scoring Arsenal's second goal

To play with 10 men behind the ball and still concede six is an embarrassment; particularly when the score flatters the vanquished team. It could have been nine on the night, had all of Arsenal's best chances gone in, or double figures had Arsenal really needed it.

Arsenal were brilliant at times, but brilliance wasn't needed. Training ground tidiness was enough to do for Braga and the looks on the faces of those Wenger replaced midway through the second half said it all.Nobody wanted to come off. They were shooting fish in a barrel.

In addition to the goals, Alberto Rodriguez cleared off the line from Fabregas, while Arshavin hit the right-hand post.

Carlos Vela arrived for Marouane Chamakh and, within a minute, scored. Again Arshavin was able to delay his pass until the perfect moment, releasing the Mexican striker, whose finish was clinical.With five minutes to go he scored a second, a simple ball over the top, held up by Fabregas and laid into his path.

Big Mo: Chamakh fires home the Gunners' third following a stunning backheel by Jack Wilshere

This is to take nothing away from Arsenal. If Manchester United had attacked with as much wit on Tuesday, they would not have finished goalless against Rangers; yet it must be said Arsenal will face a potentially tougher challenge away at Sunderland on Saturday than they did here.

That is credit to the Premier League and shame on a Braga side that are Brazilian in derivation but not in ambition or quality.

At home, Braga wear the same colours as Arsenal - red shirts, white sleeves - a relic from a visit to these shores by coach Josef Szabo in 1920. There similarity ends.

Like Arsenal, Braga do not have many natives in the team - six Brazilians, although none that have played for Brazil - and try to effect a slick, quick attacking style in most matches, but remain a pale imitation of the real thing.

They were hopelessly outclassed here, the gulf between the most experienced Champions League teams and the new arrivals becoming an increasing embarrassment for UEFA and this tournament.

At times it was like watching a particularly ineffective rendition of the rope-a-dope strategy in boxing. Braga invited Arsenal to punch themselves out and be caught on the counter-attack, except Arsenal found a way through the defence almost every time.

By the time the first goal was scored, they had virtually set up camp in Braga's penalty area and had made two very reasonable appeals for fouls within.

One might say it was third time lucky, except fortune played no part in referee Alain Hamer's decision to award a penalty to Arsenal when goalkeeper Felipe felled Chamakh in theeighth minute.

It was a certain foul and perhaps even a generous decision to allow Felipe to stay on - or not, considering what was to follow.

The Brazilian was helpless when Fabregas struck the ball to his right, such was its perfect placement.

Within two minutes, Jack Wilshere, who enjoyed an exceptional game in the heart of midfield, burst into the six-yard box only to be thwarted by a fine Felipe save, but the desperate figure in Braga's goal was fighting a losing battle and with two goals in quick succession, Arsenal put victory beyond doubt.

Head boy: Fabregas nods home his second and Arsenal's fourth, shortly after the interval

The first was the product of quite exquisite work from Fabregas, who sucked in and beat two Braga defenders with his run, and took two more out of the game with his pass, before releasing the ball to Arshavin.

The Russian took one touch to find his range and another to rifle a low shot past the exposed Felipe.

Four minutes later, Arsenal struck again and the outcome was no longer in doubt.

This time it was Wilshere as architect, starting the move with a neat pass to Fabregas, and making ground for the return, which Chamakh intercepted before laying the ball off.

Mexican wave: Vela netted a brace after coming on as a second-half substitute

It wasn't the best of feeds and it seemed to get trapped beneath Wilshere's eager feet, but he improvised brilliantly, sending the ball to Chamakh with a backheel, the striker confirming Arsenal's supremacy with a splendid finish.

It would have been nice if Capello had been here to see it, but he was in the San Siro watching his former club AC Milan defeat Auxerre.

On this form, he will no doubt check out Wilshere some other time, against opposition that might give him more of a work-out. West Bromwich Albion are next to visit here.

source: dailymail

No comments:

Post a Comment