So Champions League football is back and Arsenal faced PSV Eindhoven at the Philips Stadium.
Minus Van Persie and Eboue we started with our strongest possible side. PSV were without top scorer Jefferson Farfan. This is a game we should have won, never mind lose.
The game started quite cautiously with both sides keeping it tight at the back. Arsenal were the better side in the first half and started to attack more and more as the game went on.
Our football was good and sharp until the final third. Henry was involved but nothing was really coming off. He looked alot more interested than he did at the weekend against Blackburn (Maybe this game was the reason)
Rosicky played a 1-2 with Henry and got himself into the box on his left side and his shot was blocked from the keeper. It would have settled us down nicely but it wasn't to be.
Thierry had a few curling efforts which were close. But not good enough to beat the keeper.
William Gallas looked unsharp to me, He lost the ball on several occasions. Djourou is a better footballer than Gallas. Maybe Gallas was put there as he is a better defender. I was looking forward to seeing Hleb play as he was so good at Bolton but he was disappointing. He gave the ball away numerous times or he held onto the ball that bit too long. So half time came no goals not many chances but I felt that if we continue the way we are we will score at some point.
The second half begun and PSV took charge. All of a sudden we forgot how to keep the ball. Kone was causing us problems with his pace and he had his first chance when he fired wide past Jens Lehmann. Mendez scored the only goal of the game on 60 minutes after a Kone lay off and he fired a great low strike past Lehmann.
Arsenal are one of the only teams in world football who can have such a hold on a game and then concede the first goal. Hopefully the goal could kick Arsenal into life. Time to start passing again, time to be more forceful all over the pitch.
Nothing really changed. Infact the PSV players grew in confidence and knocked the ball around alot better than the first half. The only real attempt was a Cesc shot from outside the box which was tipped over after neat work from Tomas Rosicky.
Baptista came on for a below par Hleb. The Brazilian didn't make any difference to the performance. PSV looked the more likely side to score the second goal of the game. The game finished with Arsenal needing a two goal victory in the second leg.
The Ajax sides during Ronald Koemans rein tells us that we will be playing against a very defensive minded team at the Emirates on March 7th. Cesc, Henry and Rosicky will need big games for us to go through. I predict it may need another late goal to fire us into extra time. What we MUST do is cut out our defensive errors, if we don't we can say goodbye to the Champions League for this year