Arsenal v Celtic - Champions League Qualifier Leg 1

Arsenal v Celtic - Champions League Qualifier Leg 1

Postby gooneritis » Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:28 am

The Battle of Britain kicked off to the expected cauldron of noise however it wasn't just the Celtic fans making themselves heard.
A strong Arsenal travelling support were in full voice and like the away fans it was the away side who started the brightest. The first 10 minutes saw both sides feeling one another out but on the 10 minutes mark it was Arsenal who created the first chance. Some quick one touch passing through the midfield resulted in Andrei Arshavin finding the ball in the box to tuck home neatly only to be ruled out for offside. The Russian playmaker showed a great eye for goal and despite it not counting it signalled an early warning to the home side.

As the half progressed so did the tempo, Arsenal continued with quick, crisp passing whilst Celtic showed great heart and determination chasing down and challenging every pass. The game began to take an aggressive edge with both sides willing to put their bodies on the line
with tough tackles. In recent years the physical challenge has been something Arsenal have struggled with however the young Gunners showed a belly for the fight and gave as good as they got. Song controlled the midfield adding a strength the Gunners had previously been lacking and new signing Thomas Vermaelen conitnued to shine with a brilliant, commanding game at the back.
It was the Belgian who was influential in preventing any Celtic forray forward, his reading of the game was second to none as he regularly pushed off of his defensive line to cut out forward passes and make strong challenges before the Celtic attackers had time to press into attack.
Celtic's best chance came from a quick counter attack, an Arsenal freekick was cleared by the Celtic defence, Denilson missed a crucial challenge which left Arsenal with only Clichy and Gallas back facing a rampaging group of attackers. As the Celtic winger crossed the ball in however Vermaelen appeared out of nowhere to intercept the cross and hack it clear. It was a sublime piece of defending with the Belgian International having run the entire length of the pitch to get back and make the last ditch block.

Arsenal continued to look comfortable in possession and their defence did well to cut out any potential Celtic attacks. Despite the possession however neither goalkeeper was really tested until the opening goal. It came from a long range free kick, needlessly given away by a sloppy
late challenge on Fabregas. The Spaniard picked himself up and with the free kick fired a viscious strike from 30 yards which was heading goalwards only to take a cruel deflection off of the back of William Gallas and to the home sides heartbreak divert into the bottom corner of the net.
The opening goal just 2 minutes before the break proved to be the last real action of the half.

Arsenal started even brighter in the 2nd half, within minutes a forray forward saw captain Cesc Fabregas bowled over in the box, the referee waved play on despite replays showing the defender took the man without the ball. Almost immediately after the penalty appeal Arshavin latched onto a loose pass, ran at the defence then squared it to Van Persie however the Dutchman could only squeeze his shot inches wide. Celtic then created their best chance of the 2nd half, a neat through ball down the line found Fortune, his early cross to McDonald was crucially cut out by Gallas.
That was to be Celtics last real chance of the match, from there Arsenal continued to take a grip on the game, composure and confidence on the ball was regularly cut out by more hard tackling by the home side and cards began to flow. Despite the game becoming more heated the famous Celtic atmosphere had died out with the fans almost sensing the inevitable, to the sounds of the vocal away fans Arsenal made a substitution with Diaby coming on for Arshavin. The switch had an immediate impact as a minute later Diaby brilliantly skipped a challenge, he fed the ball to the left for the overlapping Gael Clichy whose good early cross to Bendtner attacking the near post was cruelly deflected into the Celtic net by the hapless Caldwell. The own goal made it 2-0 to the away side and it wasn't to be Celtics night.

From there the game lost it's tempo with Arsenal content to knock the ball around comfortably in the midfield knowing they sat on a vital lead. Celtic had been blunted with only the pacey McGeady ever looking a thread. Vermaelen and Gallas continued to mop up any attempted Celtic attack whilst Song had yet another commanding game in the centre of the park. The last 20 minutes were played almost in 2nd gear as Arsenal saw to it they would take an important two goal lead into the return leg next Wednesday. The final whistle blew to end an entertaining night of football and mark a great victory for the Londoners, the first English side to win at Celtic since Brian Clough's Nottingham Forrest. It was bitter disappointment for Celtic, they fought hard but were unable to prise apart what was a very confident and composed young Arsenal side.
Eyes now to turn to the 2nd leg at the Grove in which Arsenal will be huge favourites to progress into the Champions League.
Last edited by gooneritis on Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Arsenal v Celtic - Champions League Qualifier Leg 1

Postby kalesumer » Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:39 am

nice report
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Re: Arsenal v Celtic - Champions League Qualifier Leg 1

Postby She_Gunner_Wales » Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:36 am

Good report, enjoyable read. KIU. ;)
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Re: Arsenal v Celtic - Champions League Qualifier Leg 1

Postby gzagee » Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:39 am

Good stuff G.I
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Re: Arsenal v Celtic - Champions League Qualifier Leg 1

Postby Git » Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:58 am

Good report mate. =)
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Re: Arsenal v Celtic - Champions League Qualifier Leg 1

Postby StLGooner » Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:51 pm

Top stuff. And thanks!!
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Re: Arsenal v Celtic - Champions League Qualifier Leg 1

Postby liam_cork » Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:25 pm

good report
arsene knows
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