Saturday, September 22, 2007

Arsenal vs. Derby: Match Review

Well, I thought that I was perhaps being too harsh on Derby by predicting a 4-0 Arsenal win, but the young guns proved me wrong, emphatically winning the game 5-0. Arsenal remain at the top of the table thanks to a hat-trick from Emmanuel Adebayor and goals from Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby.

Arsenal: Manuel Almunia; Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, Philippe Senderos, Gael Clichy; Abou Diaby, Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini; Theo Walcott, Eduardo da Silva, Emmanuel Adebayor

Derby: Stephen Bywater; Claude Davis, Andy Griffin, Dean Leacock, Tyrone Mears; Eddie Lewis, Matt Oakley, Stephen Pearson, Gary Teale; Steve Howard, Kenny Miller

Arsenal started strongly and should have been ahead in the 4th minute after an interception from Gael Clichy in the attacking third was followed up by an immaculate pass to Emmanuel Adebayor who failed to make contact with the ball, allowing the danger to pass.

The chance was a warning to the Derby defense, and it wasn't too long before it was followed up by a goal. Abou Diaby (who had a brilliant match today) ran past two challenges before unleashing a rising shot into the top right corner of the net. Diaby's 10th minute goal was a reminder of Arsenal's potent goalscoring midfielders, and all but doomed Derby right from the beginning.

Diaby almost netted a second only minutes later from a similar position, but this time his low shot was pushed away by Bywater. Adebayor also had a great chance on 23 minutes, but the Togolese striker once again failed to make significant contact with a pass (this time from Kolo Toure) and the ball was picked up by Bywater.

The lanky forward couldn't be held off for too long though, as he finally latched on to a fabulous pass from Cesc Fabregas and rounded Bywater to slot home in the 25th minute. At 2-0, and with Arsenal still pressuring Derby, the last 65 minutes of the game seemed a mere formality - but Arsenal continued to play attacking football.

Around the half hour mark, Theo Walcott tried a shot from 20 yards out, but missed well wide. Walcott wasted a chance when Fabregas threaded a ball through to him in the 32nd. The shot went straight at Bywater who picked it up after fumbling. Walcott made some dazzling runs throughout the game, but his final ball (and his shot) left something to desire. Still, he's quite a talent, and I can't wait for him to live up to his potential.

Arsenal nearly went into the second half 3-0, but a 44th minute header from Eduardo was equaled by a brilliant save from Stephen Bywater who had otherwise looked fairly average so far.

A 2-0 lead was enough to give Arsenal some confidence coming into the second half though, and in the 50th minute Eduardo was pulled by Matt Oakley in the 18 yard box, resulting in an Arsenal penalty. Bywater guessed right, but could do nothing to stop Adebayor from slotting home his second of the match.

6 minutes later Kolo Toure nearly netted his first of the season after he headed a cross from Fabregas just wide.

Derby then countered with their first real chance of the game, as Steve Howard shot just right of Almunia's upright.

A few minutes later a nice run from Theo Walcott saw him speed past two defenders only to once again lack the final touch, seeing his shot blocked. Arsenal looked sure to score a fourth though, and it came when Fabregas once again unleashed a fierce drive from 20 yards. Bywater got a hand to the ball, but couldn't prevent it from reaching the net, making it 6 goals in as many games for the midfield maestro.

Adebayor added another fabulous goal in the 80th minute to finish the rout, as he showed amazing control in chesting down a ball before slotting home from about 8 yards.

Arsenal have secured their spot at the top of the table, and Thierry Henry must be ruing his decision to move to Barca. Could this be another invincible year?