Tag Archives: goalkeeper

Wenger wants naive Arsenal to learn some lessons

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Wenger wants naive Arsenal to learn some lessons

ALKMAAR, Netherlands (AFP) – Arsene Wenger insists his “naive” Arsenal stars must learn from the frustration of conceding a last-gasp equaliser against AZ Alkmaar.

Wenger’s side were on the verge of a third successive win in Group H after Cesc Fabregas’s first half strike put them ahead at the DSB Stadium.

But the Dutch champions – who had the worst possible preparation for the match when their owner’s bank was declared bankrupt on Monday – punished Arsenal for a lacklustre second half display as the Gunners‘ poor marking at a free-kick allowed David Mendes Da Silva to lash in the stoppage time goal that secured a 1-1 draw.

The Premier League club remain top of their group at the halfway stage so the damage from Da Silva’s goal is likely to be minimal, but Wenger was still unhappy at the way his young side surrendered their seven-match winning run.

“We are still learning. You do not need to give a free-kick away on an offside in the last minute,” Wenger said.

“We were caught a bit naively on the second ball, that can happen sometimes on the first one that you lose the header, but on the second one, their player was completely free to score.

“We were largely in control, but as long as you are not two goals in front, that is the problem.

“You can score with just one kick from the goalkeeper into your box. That is just football.”

While Wenger, who turns 60 on Thursday, was frustrated with his side’s failure to close out the match, he was full of praise for the way Ronald Koeman’s team refused to accept defeat.

“You know that in the last five minutes of a Champions League match, anything can happen,” Wenger said.

“They have thrown everything forward and felt they could only score on a set-piece, and that is what happened.

“It is frustrating because we looked closer to scoring a second than conceding, but credit to them, they did fight well and went until the last minute.”

Wenger knows Arsenal had only themselves to blame for taking their foot off the gas after the break, but even then the Gunners could have had a penalty when substitute Carlos Vela was tripped on the edge of the area in the 83rd minute.

“To me, it looked like a penalty, but I would have to watch it again. The referee was even closer than I was,” Wenger said.

“But we are still in a strong position. We have three games left, two at home, and I believe to win one game will qualify us.

“What I want is for us to continue to play like we do, focus to play better.

“In football, you have to produce the maximum result with your game, and tonight that did not happen.”

AZ coach Koeman has managed to frustrate Wenger several times in the Champions League in recent years. After knocking out the Gunners during his time at PSV Eindhoven, Koeman moved to Ajax and earned two draws against Arsenal.

But this may have been his best achievement given his team’s relatively small squad and budget.

“We made some mistakes in the first half, like when we lost possession for the goal,” he said.

“Arsenal were controlling in the second half, but we kept our spirit.

“I made some changes to try to win the game. We could put some long, high balls, then fight for the second ball.

“We never lost the spirit. I am very happy about the result and the performance of the team.”

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Van Persie breaks stubborn Olympiakos resistance

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Van Persie breaks stubborn Olympiakos resistance

LONDON (AFP) – Robin van Persie rewarded Arsenal’s patience as the Gunners finally shattered Olympiakos‘s stubborn resistance to claim a 2-0 win in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Arsene Wenger’s side dominated the Group H clash at the Emirates Stadium from start to finish, but were frustrated until 12 minutes from full-time by a superb display from Antonis Nikopolidis.

Greek goalkeeper Nikopolidis made a series of fine saves to keep Arsenal at bay until Dutch striker Van Persie slotted home and then Andrei Arshavin notched the second to give the scoreline a more realistic look.

Wenger will become the longest serving manager in Arsenal’s history on Thursday when his tenure in north London stretches to 13 years and this was the perfect way to celebrate that milestone.

His team produced the kind of eye-catching play that Wenger loves and more importantly maintained their winning start to the group stage.

Wenger said: “I am very happy. We had a great first half and outstanding quality but unfortunately we couldn’t take advantage of it.

“It was difficult to maintain that pace and quality for 90 minutes but overall I think we dominated from the first minute until the last.

“We kept composure and we always played with the desire to keep discipline in the team. We have matured and a game like that shows that.”

Olympiakos boss Zico launched a furious rant at the officals for allowing Arshavin’s strike, which looked offside, and even claimed that French referee Stephane Lannoy and his two French linesman shouldn’t have taken charge of the game because Arsenal have a French manager and players.

“I think there was a lack of sensitivity. We had three French officials with a French coach of the opposing team and many French players. Maybe we could have had officials from another country. I don’t want to talk about only this but I think it should be taken into account,” Zico said.

“It is only a comment. I don’t think they were biased but a goal was offside. We always hope it is just a mistake.”

Arsenal’s movement off the ball was too much for Olympiakos’s statuesque defence and should have led to a goal in the 13th minute.

Gael Clichy made a perfectly timed run down the left and his cutback from the touchline gave Arshavin the chance to force a smart stop from Nikopolidis.

Wenger’s side went even closer moments later. A mesmerising exchange between van Persie and Arshavin cut open the Greek defence and Cesc Fabregas drove a fierce strike onto the crossbar. Van Persie seized on the rebound and fed Tomas Rosicky, only for Nikopolidis to push away his shot.

At 38 years old Nikopolidis is well into the twilight of his career, but he was keeping Olympiakos in the match almost single-handedly and denied Arshavin again, this time low down at his near post.

Arshavin seemed to induce mass panic in the Olympiakos back-four whenever the Russian ran at them and chances continued to flow.

Arshavin’s incisive pass gave Fabregas a clear sight of goal but Nikopolidis came to the rescue once more as he repelled the Spaniard’s shot.

Twice in quick succession, Van Persie tricked Raul Bravo to such an extent that the left-back was left flat on his back, but the Dutch forward’s finish was too tame to beat Nikopolidis.

Olympiakos finally caused Arsenal hearts to flutter just after half-time when Olof Mellberg’s header looped goalwards before young Italian keeper Vito Mannone clawed it to safety.

Arsenal’s response was immediate and Van Persie took Emmanuel Eboue’s pass in stride before forcing another good save from Nikopolidis.

When he kept out van Persie’s snapshot, Arsenal’s frustration grew.

But Wenger sent on Croatia forward Eduardo and Mexican striker Carlos Vela in a final attempt to break down the Olympiakos rearguard.

The move paid dividends immediately as Eduardo combined with Van Persie to break the deadlock in the 78th minute.

Fabregas started the move with a glorious pass to Eduardo and the Croatian timed his cutback perfectly for Van Persie to sweep past Nikopolidis at last.

That broke Olympiakos once and for all and Arshavin, standing in what looked an offside position, cleverly back-heeled in Fabregas’s cross to seal the victory in the 86th minute.

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Football: Wendel dives in to send Bordeaux back to top

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Football: Wendel dives in to send Bordeaux back to top

PARIS (AFP) – Defending champions Bordeaux returned to the top of the French first division after an impressive 1-0 victory at home to previously unbeaten Rennes on Sunday.

A 24th-minute diving header by Brazilan midfielder Wendel was enough to secure Laurent Blanc’s side the points but only a combination of excellent goalkeeping and profligate finishing kept the visitors in the game.

“It was a great match with two teams who were looking to play the ball,” said Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc.

“We played against a fine team tonight, certainly the best opposition we’ve faced since the start of the season.”

Bordeaux survived an early scare when Yann Mvila shot into the side netting after dispossessing the meandering Michael Ciani, before Wendel deftly guided Benoit Tremoulinas’s left-wing centre inside the right-hand post.

Bordeaux midfielder Yoann Gourcuff was at his inspirational best and he twice laid on chances for Marouane Chamakh, the Morocco international shooting over after a delightful six-pass exchange with his French team-mate and then heading just wide from Gourcuff’s inswinging corner.

Visiting goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez made a terrific reflex stop to keep out Wendel’s deflected free-kick in the 65th minute and then denied substitute David Bellion late on, as Bordeaux strongly closed out a win that takes them a point above second-placed Lyon and leaves Rennes fifth.

Earlier on Sunday, a superb last-minute goal from Pierre-Alain Frau earned Lille a 1-1 draw at home to Nice, who remain second-bottom.

The Mediterranean side went ahead through France Under-21 striker Loic Remy in the 61st minute and were closing in on what would have been only their second win of the season until Frau bent a first-time shot into the top-right corner from the edge of the penalty area in the dying moments.

In the day’s other game, Le Mans climbed out of the bottom three thanks to a 3-0 victory at home to last season’s Ligue 2 champions Lens.

Frederic Thomas put Le Mans 2-0 up with a pair of unstoppable 20-yard strikes before former Liverpool midfielder Anthony Le Tallec sealed victory shortly after the hour-mark with a towering header.

Marseille suffered their first defeat of the campaign on Saturday, after Brazilian defender Rafael Schmitz’s header seven minutes from time gave Valenciennes a 3-2 victory at the Stade Nungesser.

The big-spending southern giants had twice led, through summer signing Fernando Morientes and captain Mamadou Niang, and coach Dider Deschamps was frustrated by their sub-par showing just four days prior to Wednesday’s Champions League group stage match at Real Madrid.

“We led twice but gave away too much space,” said Deschamps. “We missed a little aggression and Valenciennes were superior to us in the tackles, in the duels. We were well below what we are capable of.”

Lyon continued their unbeaten start to the season at home to Toulouse, fighting back after falling behind to Moussa Sissoko‘s eighth-minute opener to win 2-1 thanks to France striker Bafetimbi Gomis’s fourth goal of the season.

Montpellier moved level on points with third-placed Marseille after a 1-0 win over fellow new boys Boulogne-sur-Mer, while Paris Saint-Germain were held 1-1 at Lorient.


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