Standard stuff really. When you have four teenagers and a 4th team keeper on the bench then all is not well with the world. When you have two players in the starting line up who haven't played for years due to injury all is not well with the world.
That said no Arsenal team has any excuses for such an abject start to a game. We started abysmally and it got worse. Song almost immediately sliced away for a corner after Clichy was beaten far too easily. Eduardo then tried a back-heeled flick on the edge of our box and gifted the ball and a shot to Jovanovic who stuck it away. 1-0 Standard Liege. Soon to be 2-0 inside the first five minutes when Gallas tripped a player on the very edge of the box and gave away a penalty. Mannone was sent the wrong way by Mangala. Not quite the start an inexperienced keeper needs. Two shots, two goals and poor Vito had yet to do anything other than pick the ball out of the net.
A good team would have consolidated, got their act together, started playing, kept possession and calmed things down. We did none of these. We looked nervy, ragged, unsure and timid. We miss-timed or miss-placed passes. In fact our passing was awful, our challenges abject and our team-work non-existent. Fabregas wasn't at the races, Song was missing his only other worker in midfield, Denilson, and it showed. Diaby was giving the ball away at will. Rosicky couldn't get into the game and Clichy was exceedingly poor even allowing for the total lack of cover in front of him. If I was Wenger I'd have subbed Diaby before half time because you just cannot afford to give the ball away that often in central areas.
They worked, we flapped. As the game wore on we started winning more possession and at one time the stats gave us 65% possession. But given that 0% of this was effective it didn't seem to matter too much. Only Bendtner was working his rocks off up front and only he looked like he would make a game of it. Only Vermaelen at the back looked like he'd even played European football previously. He and he alone was our anchor man at the back and his performance alone was spot on.
Just before the break Diaby went on a fine run, during which he was held back by his shirt for what seemed like a third of the pitch. Abou persevered however and slid a neat ball down the inside right channel (how dated was that!) to Nick. Nick made the most of the pass and fired home through the keeper's legs. 2-1 then with 45 minutes and 30 seconds played and we had a really vital goal to take in at half time. Clichy by the way had picked up a yellow card for a trip during the half.
We made a seriously sloppy start to the second half but countered with a fine attack thanks to a great pass from Rosicky that put Nick through on goal. The tackle that stopped him though was superb. Arsenal continued with their hit and miss play but Liege made the mistake of sitting back on their lead and attempting to cling on. Arsenal like most English teams are fitter than most continentals because we have to be. So we ground them down as they attempted to hold us on their 18 yard line with everyone behind the ball.
We continued to waste balls, make poor decisions and give away possession in a mediocre manner, but I guess that's what happens when you turn up to a game in a Tottenham kit. Eboue was a tad lucky when he cleared a cross over his own bar, but why was he playing? Surely it was our left back who was the more deserving of our full backs to have been demoted to the bench.
By the hour mark we were well on top as Liege retreated to the edge of their box and attempted to hang on. But we played tippy-tappy around their box and failed to shoot on sight. Ramsey replaced Rosicky on 69 minutes and although Tomas had a very reasonable match he was clearly tiring. Ramsey had a shot saved soon after. Our possession wasn't effective because we still wasted passes and failed to shoot or create clear-cut chances. But we were getting closer and Standard were beginning to rock. A three minute spell however seriously rocked the home team .
With Arsenal substitutions about to be made Cesc slung in a free kick to the far post. Song looked offside but wasn't, he did however control the ball with his arm before slipping it to our Belgium TV man who tapped it home. A lucky scrambled goal this then, which came about as much as anything due to our continued pressure. We'd salvaged a welcome point at 2-2. A minute later Cesc cut back a ball for Ed who saw a great shot very well saved by their keeper. Within another minute Vermaelen had had a back-heel cleared off their line. The pressure of even more corners told when Cesc slung one in, it was flicked on by a defender across the six-yard box. Eduardo stuck his knee out to guide it into the net. 2-3 Arsenal and we'd stolen all the points.
Pisstake passing mode eventually became the order of the day as Standard ran out of steam. If Ramsey's pass to Nick had been half a yard more accurate we could even have had a 4th goal. Jack got five minutes pitch time and Clichy made his best and probably only great play of the night with a great tackle in our box. Granted we deserved the three points eventually but were absolute pants for far too long. Better teams than Standard Liege would have held their lead, but at the end of the day, we came back from a disastrous start, we stole the points however luckily and we won away from home in Europe. Should we play to even 50% of our ability we should clearly piss Group H.
Never mind the quality, just count the points.