Another frustrating evening as Braga scored two late goals through Matheus, the second one a superb individual effort. The Gunners lost captain Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Eboue to injury, Carlos Vela was booked for a dive when he was clearly brought down in the penalty area, and the London team was unable in a familiar story to convert all that dominant possession into the stat that mattered most: Goals.
Victor Kassai made Sepp Blatter’s provision of additional linesman look ridiculous after the Vela incident. Such a defining moment and yet he did not bother to even consult them. Arsenal were diddled out of a spot kick which could have changed everything.
The sight of the defense getting caught and then twisting themselves into knots to try and stop a faster and more determined player on the ball is becoming all too familiar.
Can someone break this gently to Wenger – but Denilson is not a holding midfielder. Never has been. In fact, he has a hard time holding on. Period. Nicklas Bendtner was abject. I have yet to see a striker with a heavier first touch. Instead this would’ve been an ideal match for Van Persie to play himself out of his rust. And just one observation on Chamakh – he’s been good but he can try and attack the goal more. He’s been a soft touch in the box.
Shakhtar virtually booked themselves into the next round as they beat Partizan easily, 3-0 to move to the top of Group H. The Gunners made life more difficult for themselves and will vie with Braga for the second spot. Nothing can be taken for granted with confidence ebbing away faster than the prospect of Portugal staving off a bailout.
Fabregas will definitely be out of the Villa match this weekend and maybe longer with a strained hamstring. Eboue looks like he twisted his ankle and could be out for a month.
Arsenal’s dissociated neuroses continues. They win a couple of games emphatically. Everyone starts writing about how they’re the team to beat. Cue the next crisis. Back to square one. Begin cycle.