Arsenal 0 CSKA Moscow 0: Russians, barn doors and banjos

Last updated : 02 November 2006 By Brian Dawes
Justin Hoyte in action
The referee opened proceedings by booking Thierry Henry in the first minute for what looked from the opposite side of the pitch to be no more than big name hunting. He then bought into the first two dives of the evening from the men in grey.

Early chances for Rosicky and Van Persie saw both their shots lacking the necessary power. Hleb then had a great solo that ended with a pass to Robin's right-foot which was ballooned over. Carvalho was the final man in a good Moscow break away and he tried a chip. Rosicky worked back with a great tackle and Van Persie hit a rocket following what appeared to be miss control from Henry – the rocket whistled just the wrong side of the post and set the tone for the evening. An Oscar winning performance by Carvalho who went straight into cheating bar steward mode.

A through ball wide right saw, I think, Hleb sling in a perfect ball to Henry who hit it just the wrong side of the post from close range. CSKA were under pressure but still left two men upfield. Brilliant play by Van Persie who combined delightfully with Rosicky before hitting in a great cross that was cut out well. Henry had a chance from a Cesc, I think, through ball that he couldn't quite reach. More diving from a grey shirt and another farcical free kick which Jens took with ease. A Van Persie header on target lacked pace because the cross also lacked pace. Hleb had a good shot that was well saved. Van Persie and Hleb carved an opening to set up Henry who confirmed his current lack of form by missing what for him is usually a certainty. I say lack of form but we're really comparing the odd bit of genius now and again and some lapse shooting, with total genius of a gob smacking nature though out an entire match.

The next one to miss an easy chance was Cesc who having rounded the keeper hit the side netting with the goal gaping. I think he was just clipped by the keeper and had he gone down instead of attempting to retain his balance it could have been a penalty. Another good break, by Hleb, but Henry still couldn't make it pay. Some awful dramatics by Dudu followed who should have had a yellow card for piss poor acting if nothing else. Henry was given offside when it looked seriously marginal. Emberas dived again before Cesc was given offside. A great tackle by Cesc set up another move where Henry shot just wide. Berzezutskiy fell over for a ridiculous free kick. A first half substitution saw Krasic exit and Aldonin come on.

Hleb hit a perfect ball that Henry flicked the wrong side of the post. A yellow card for Berzezutskiy for taking out Rosicky but there had been far worse tackles that went unpunished. In the 2 minutes added time a perfect cross from Henry found Rosicky who only had to fart in the general direction of the ball for it to go in. Instead he hit it wide of the goal straight to their keeper. We couldn't believe our eyes. Time still for one rather mediocre free kick by Henry before half time.

It was hard to figure out why we were not at least three goals ahead given the way we were carving Moscow to pieces. It was just one of those nights.

Alex Hleb - An energetic display
Most of the first half was too much of a blur of fast one touch passing to be able to note down the sequence of a move and the mobility of our midfield and forwards meant that they were all just popping up all over the place. It also has to be said that Clichy and Hoyte both joined our attacks effectively. Time had been a blur, which is always an indication of a fine game.

Moscow kicked off the second half towards what ought to be the North Bank. I think CSKA are a fairly useful outfit and wouldn't be too surprised to see them knock out a big name or two in the later stages. Henry opened his account by slating Fabregas for what he perceived to be a delayed pass – awful when people have a go at you isn't it Thierry? I quote from the programme ‘I think what's important is that we all stick together'

In short the second half followed the same pattern as the first. We were all over them, creating chances wasn't the problem, trying to walk the ball in wasn't the problem, accurate shots and headers were in fact the entire problem. Henry won a corner then headed over from the ball in by Van Persie. Zhirkov kicked Gilberto up in the air but there was no card just a free kick. Carvalho dived again. The moves were flowing the movement was good but Moscow did counter every now on then, on one such break Hleb thought it worth while to stop the break at the expense of a yellow card. Jens saved the day on another break when he saved at the feet of 11, but whether he should have backpeddled initially rather than going for the ball seemed debatable to me. Dudu had a naff shot but the traffic was usually flowing the other way. Another great cross from Robin that just eluded Cesc's toe. Clichy to Henry, almost.

Stunning play by Cesc to find Henry and another tasty cross from Robin. We were failing to break through by a matter of millimetres. Rosicky fired one over from distance. A Hleb cross sliced off a defender and could have gone anywhere. Hleb, after a fine match, was replaced by Theo so Robin moved forward to complete the 4-4-2 formation. Robin won a free kick and Kolo tried his luck from extreme range. Another absolutely blinding cross saw Robin head wide with the goal apparently gaping. An impressive tackle by Theo in the right back berth. Timewasting was ongoing now, but at least it started some 75 minutes later than Everton's. A joke free kick against Cesc for winning the ball.

Aliadiere got eight minutes on the pitch at the expense of Robin who was clearly tiring. Hoyte, who also looked pretty knackered hit the perfect cross for a Henry header that won us a corner thanks to a good save. A series of corners at both ends of the pitch saw Henry came closest to netting any of them, but his was almost an own goal. Cesc was clearly annoyed not to play the last couple of minutes as he was replaced by Flamini. The four minutes added time was still not long enough for us to score a goal. How very frustrating it had been but we'd had two-dozen chances only to blow them all, including about half a dozen nailed on certs by Arsenal's standards.

I loved the football, hated the result which was so undeserved in the sense of being the better team but totally deserved for missing so many nailed on opportunities. And I like everyone else around me didn't boo Henry, or anyone else, and like thousands of I stayed to the bitter end. Also like many others I was once again driven crazy by the ineptitude of the London Transport System, although at least the north bound Piccadilly line had a decent excuse for our late arrival home on this particular evening.