Arsenal: Mannone, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla, Walcott, Giroud, Podolski. subs: Shea, Santos, Djourou, Jenkinson, Coquelin, Arshavin, Chamakh.
The line-up was greeted warmly with Koscielny in for Santos who was too busy putting bsr’s shirt on Ebay and Theo playing right side instead of the injured, flying winger Rambo. On paper both changes made the team stronger and it would need to be at its most resistant at an intimidating Veltins Arena. Talk of Micky finding a Schalke fan website to translate from was interrupted when his search inadvertently led to a different type of German sport site.
The game kicked off and the first minute immediately saw Schalke in behind the left back position. Luckily the cross went deep and Alan Smith started to whine already. Soon after, Vermaelen made a good tackle and started to regain some of his shattered confidence. Arsenal had a small period of possession ending in Theo overplaying, resulting in a Schalke break and the defence looked vulnerable.
On 9 minutes Podolski lost the ball in midfield, another quick break ended in an Affelay shot well saved by Mannone at the near post. Two minutes later Theo lost the ball again in midfield and another shaky episode ended with a Schalke header just over the bar from the resulting corner.
Schalke were pressing high up and the midfield refusing to take the ball from the back four resulted in a few hoofs forward from keeper and full backs. On 15’, Vermaelen was skinned again but Farfan ran the ball out of play. A super Jack dribble then saw Arsenal win two corners on the trot. The first nearly allowed Jack to sneak in at the near post in a training ground move.
Eighteen minutes in and a poor defensive header from Schalke fell to Giroud who stumbled a little but Theo following up tapped the ball home. 1-0 and a confidence boost for the yellows.
With Arsenal’s confidence now growing, a super ball from Santi allowed Podolski to cross but it flew over Theo’s head in the centre.
Cazorla was then booked for handball before he delivered the best Arsenal pass of the game to Wilshere. It looked perfect for a top corner, left-footed curler but instead Jack fed the ball wide to Podolski who seemed to trip, then regain his feet which threw the Schalke defence off guard allowing the cross to come in and Giroud to power the ball home unmarked. 2-0 to the good guys.
Sagna made a great covering challenge after Podolski lost the ball in midfield, followed by Walcott doing the same. Schalke looked dangerous when Arsenal lost the ball in those middle areas all game and so it was to prove. On 33’ Giroud went down clutching the back of his leg. A kick rather than a hamstring tear brought relief all round for the Gooner faithful. A superb Wilshere dribble winning a corner was followed by more shakiness from our captain looking anything but comfortable at left back. Luckily Farfan blasted over the bar.
Alan Smith seemed to be willing Schalke to get one back before half-time as did the commentator plus the whole team back in the studio. Fuchs was booked for a foul on Walcott and Giroud unfortunately directed his header straight at the keeper from Cazorla’s free-kick.
Some good Arsenal possession and strong hold-up play from Giroud had Alan Smith sounding more and more gutted but into the second minute of first half injury time, he got his wish. Cazorla slipped over and two passes (the second from Holtby, a gem) put Huntelaar through and a clinical left foot finish was the last kick of the first forty five. 2-1 and the ugly sisters in the Sky studio would now have a feast of criticism with which to sate their anti-Arsenal appetite. The mute button it was for me.
The second half began and Arsenal had a fine chance to restore their 2 goal margin but Giroud connected with his right shin from a Podolski cross. A poor defensive header from the BFG wasn’t punished before Giroud and Walcott found themselves in an identical position (centre forward) from a Podolski pass. Huntelaar, who always scores every chance he’s ever presented with (according to the commentary team), then missed a one on one with Don Vito making a fine block. The Dutch striker looked marginally offside.
The pressure was starting to build and Arteta made a couple of crucial interceptions in his defensive third. Arsenal still look like a team with no talkers present. Somebody needs to gee the others up when the team comes under pressure. A fine piece of defensive work from Podolski saw the ball end up with Theo being fouled and everyone could pause for breath at last.
On 59’ Jack started to look leggy and when Theo raced clear, Jack produced a tired looking pass which was easily cut out. The referee then produced a bizarre decision to deny Podolski of a chance to score a third and crucial goal for Arsenal. A Schalke defender went down in the area with a leg injury, the referee didn’t stop the game immediately but only when Podolski was about to shoot. It wasn’t a head injury so Podolski’s frustration was understandable.
The next few minutes saw a Holtby shot, Mannone out to deny Huntelaar and an Affelay shot into Mannone’s midriff. The equaliser looked like it was coming, Vermaelen got sucked into the middle leaving Farfan clear at the far post. His shot was deflected in by Vermaelen as it flew past Mannone. 2-2 with over 20 still to go and I couldn’t bear the commentary anymore, so off it went. Smith had what he wanted.
(As an aside, my brother applied for an Arsenal credit card to receive a 1989 away shirt signed by Alan Smith. He was tempted to ask for one that hadn’t been signed. What is it with ex-Arsenal players queueing up to take a pop at the club. I suppose as we’re the most talked about team in the country it’s an easy way to make a few bob.)
The BFG slipped and Schalke were nearly in again. However the response from the yellows was positive after Schalke’s equaliser. A couple of corners for the away side followed. Wilshere laying the ball back to Cazorla who blazed over and Theo hitting the post when offside, showed some signs of a revival of heart from the Gunners.
81’ and Mannone held on well from a fierce drive with a Schalke player waiting to pounce. Another quick break saw Huntelaar fire over the bar again confounding the goal every chance theory. Vermaelen made a great saving tackle in the 85th minute leading to some cold sponge treatment. Good tackles from Tommy and the BFG preceded a fine punch from Mannone. Could we hang on?
The substitutions to waste some injury time came on 90 minutes, Coquelin for Cazorla and Santos for Podolski. Barnetta came on for Schalke wearing a superb version of the kind of moustache that Big Al adores. The final minute of the four gave Arsenal a great chance to sneak the three points and put us back in charge of the group, but Theo hit the goalkeeper’s legs when he, perhaps, should have gone round him. It was the last kick of the game.
Most Arsenal fans would have taken a point before the game started but with Olympiacos beating Montpelier, it’s still wide open. We now look as though we’ll need to get some sort of result in Greece. Still we could still finish top of the group, too, so all to play for.
Mannone – Made some excellent saves and couldn’t really be faulted for either of the goals. My MOTM ……8
Mertesacker – Lost his footing and bearings a few times but produced some great interceptions and tackles……8
Vermaelen – Didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence at left back, but grew into the game. I wonder how Andre would have coped with Farfan?…….7
Sagna – Some great tackles but sometimes a little sloppy which is unusual for Bacary. Still he has been out for a long spell and is regaining full match sharpness….7
Koscielny – Kos looked a little nervous as well after a spell on the bench and is still finding his feet at Champions League level……7
Arteta – Not Mikel’s best game for the Gunners. He looks a little tired to me…….7
Wilshere – Jack gets me up off my feet and is starting to show signs of blossoming partnership with Santi. Now gets a restorative break from the League…..8
Cazorla – Santi will appreciate sharing some of the creative load with Jack. Unfortunate to slip for the first Schalke goal…….7
Podolski – Lukas worked extremely hard again and his assist for Giroud’s goal was superb. He was really unlucky to be pulled back by the ref when about to unleash a howitzer in the 2nd half…..8
Giroud – A great header for the second after stumbling during the build up to the first. Worked hard but we still don’t seem to be playing to his strengths …..7
Walcott – Theo was lively throughout. Still makes the wrong decision when he doesn’t get his head up, but judging by his voice in his post-match interview, he’s been pretty poorly, so all credit to him ….8
Santos – 90′
Coquelin – 90′
Written by chas
True to his word, MickyDidIt89 tracked down a Schalke site and has translated their report of the game for us to read. Google translation has come up with some amusing phrasing which we think adds to the flavour of the report …. you must read this with a German accent in your head (or you will be shot )
Copied from “schalkefan.de”:
A roller coaster of emotions. Only the joyful astonishment that S04 apparently seamlessly to connect to the power of London and Arsenal on Matchday of the Champions League group stage recorded directly and violently.Then the bare horror after the incredibly stupid mistake Neustätdters novel, the Walcott the 0:1 on a silver platter with a bow on it served. Then the first signs of resignation because Podolski the fresh substitute for the injured Uchida Hoeger kidding and unchallenged can beat a cross for Giroud, who even slightly non drängter than the face may even stand on six-yard box. Finally, the frustration, as Schalke is always associated with high balls at Arsenal’s strong central defense. And then again the hope as Huntelaar hits with the half time whistle out of the blue to 1:2. The irrepressible desire – not only on the field, even in the stands – the guests after half-time to pour it 2-2 and eventually the boundless joy, as it will finally Farfán. Schalke gegen Arsenal hatte alles! Schalke against Arsenal had everything! It was war over long periods is a great game.
Was it a heroic-fought point? Was it a victory verschenkter? Or was it in the end lucky to Unnerstall in the last scene of the game his foot to some degree turns, stop the ball on the back of the net? I think it was a little bit of everything. Schalke hatte seine Chancen. Schalke had his chances. Schalke got down well. But Schalke made again the glaring errors that pervade the season like a royal blue thread. Neustaedter that should never try in life, play from the halfway line to the back of the head with a back pass, he will know himself. That neither Giroud Podolski yet we may be free to act, word has spread now to Hoeger, Matip and Höwedes. Two errors, two serious errors even that had a hair that the result of a good performance on its head.
Because it was a good performance. Rarely seen berennen one Schalke team so unleashes the gates of a strong opponent, as one saw yesterday after the halftime break. The balance was not enforced, he was rushed through by brute force. So vehemently Schalke went to work, that after the 2:2 lacked strength for further exploits and you eventually – quite rightly by the way – was happy with the 2-2.
On this game between Schalke and Arsenal, I will certainly think back often. No matter how they go crazy and suddenly exciting preliminary group remains to be stated that the Blues were able to confirm its strong performance from the “first leg”. It was not a one two weeks ago at the Emirates Stadium. In the form of yesterday I’m at Schalke and the other Champions League history not worry.