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Arsenal Beat Celtic 2-0 at Celtic Park, All But Assure Champions League Qualification

Arsenal beat Celtic 2-0 at Celtic Park, all but assuring their qualification for the Champions League group stages, with two away goals.  It was not the presiding effort of their 6-1 away win at Everton, but the two deflected goals – from Gallas and Gary Caldwell’s foot – fulfilled the requirement in what was arguably the most important match of the season.

Celtic obviously came into match with an inferior squad.  The Scottish Premier League nowhere near equates the English one.  Celtic’s biggest signing was £4m Scott Brown.  As was mentioned in the telecast, new Celtic manager Tony Mowbray did have experience against Arsene Wenger from his time at West Brom.  Unfortunately, said experience was losing to Arsenal with an inferior squad.

The tactics came as no shock.  Celtic pressed early to disrupt Arsenal’s passing, with moderate success.  When the club tired, they kicked Cesc Fabregas constantly, resulting in two yellow cards and accomplishing nothing but placing him at risk for injury.  Fabregas is too savvy to be addled by wanton lunges.  Even if the tactic had hampered his effectiveness, Arsenal have four or five players who can create adequately with the increased space from diminished attention.

Wenger again opted for the 4-3-3, using the exact lineup that played against Everton.  This time, however, players shifted positions more frequently and both Gallas and Vermaelen attempted runs from the back.  This suggests we may be seeing some true total football at the Emirates this year.

Arsenal’s back four, fronted by Song were solid again.  Though, they benefitted from Arsenal breaking up plays high up the pitch in both matches.  The trio of Alumnia, Vermaelen and Gallas appear confident now.  Will this change when they face a team that can down the wings and challenge aerially with crosses?

The weak point for Arsenal was Nicklas Bendtner.  He shone with the ball at times against Everton, but against Celtic he was woeful.  Whether playing down the right or in the middle, his poor off the ball positioning placed him consistently two steps behind his proper place.  He has the technical ability, but does he have the football intelligence?

Theo Walcott should take Bendtner’s place when he returns from injury.  Though, if Bendtner remains the fall back plan for the slender shouldered one, that should influence Wenger’s to buy.  Could Wenger take Rafael Van Der Vaart off their hands for £6m?

For those tracking other transfers as we approach the deadline, Emmanuel Eboue was not in Arsenal’s squad, leaving that reported £9m move to Fiorentina an option.

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  1. Jack

    August 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Agree with most of the stuff there, except about Bendtner.

    I have to say that all things considered, Bendtner did extremely well playing on the wing considering he isn’t a natural winger at all.

    He showed good dribbling skills, an improved ability to hold up the ball, a massive willingness to track back and he was instrumental in setting up the disallowed goal and would have scored the 2nd had Caldwell not slotted it in himself.

  2. Kautzie

    August 19, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Pretty good result given Celtic’s gameplan and the fact that our forwards forgot their shooting boots. Celtic defended well and tried to kick Cesc off the park, both goals were lucky but Arsenal’s had more than it’s share of bad luck the last couple of years. Vermaelen’s a rock in defense and Song’s a monster in the midfield right now, all we need now is depth at CD and DM and a true target man if we’re going to keep this formation because as much as I like RVP he’s not a target man.

  3. Sujay

    August 19, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Vermaelen was great. But Arsenal need a backup defender. The goals were not so convincing, but Arsenal dominated. Fabregas was fab. He is in great form.

  4. Tim

    August 19, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Also, according to both the BBC and ESPN, Eboue was on the bench.

  5. Tim

    August 19, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Eboue to Fiorentina based on a nearly month-old Goal dot com report.

    That’s the definition of lazy reporting.

  6. wllmhll

    August 19, 2009 at 1:49 am

    vermaelen was intense, fits right in the premier league.

  7. Eric

    August 18, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    i agree with everything there, especially

  8. Jay

    August 18, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    No love for Song? He has been a beast so far as has Gallas….

  9. hmmm

    August 18, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Vermaelen looks fierce. Quick, dives into tackles, good in the air, seems to read the game well.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start kicking back soon, he seems like a nutter and the perfect player to protect Cesc, Walcott, Eduardo, etc. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn out to be straight up violent.

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