Arsenal 4 AZ Alkmaar 1: Arsenal hammer four more

Last updated : 05 November 2009 By Brian Dawes

And for all I know, or care, what they won't even be doing on a Thursday next season either. Namely playing in Europe.

Despite a relatively poor performance last time out against Alkmaar we still topped Group H at kick off. And although our squad was sadly depleted by injury, we were missing Djourou, Vela, Fabianski, Bendtner, Walcott, Denilson, Wilshere, Traore, Clichy plus Uncle Tom Cobbly and all, you still had to fancy our chances. I really couldn't see Alkmaar grabbing three points tonight. But given their negativity in the away leg I was anticipating a possible long lead in to the opening goal and a fairly tight war of attrition especially given Ronald Koeman's fine record against the mighty Wenger.

With some minimal rotation the team more or less picked itself given our growing list of walking wounded, it was Nasri playing wide once more. Eboue in at right back and having rather a poor game by his recently improved standards. We had a ref from Luxembourg, which says much about how highly UEFA rated this match and he was largely untroubled by anything major happening on the pitch.

We played with Cesc playing further forward tonight in a role that often saw him in the hole a la Bergkamp. But with our rotation working really well throughout it is becoming more difficult to define formations in our current side. There were many empty seats early on caused in some instances by a major accident on the M1. '3-0 we beat the Scum 3-0'. Robin with our first shot which was seemingly saved but given as a goal kick. An Eboue charge. Van Persie nearly in.

A back pass picked up by their keeper saw us in with a chance but Robin's shot went wide. Great run by Dembele on a counter but he screwed up badly having got the ball. We were on top but AZ were at the time almost playing a 9-0-1 whenever we surged forward. At least they were till we scored. Gallas roamed forward found Fabregas who skipped past his man and took his goal with a low shot that the keeper could perhaps have done more to stop. 1-0 Arsenal.

Alkmaar failed to impress or up their tempo and they certainly couldn't match ours. One fine move down our left flank seemed to involve about half our team before a cross came in that Cesc headed over. Is it just me or has he grown since last season? Certainly in stature. Song was bossing the midfield and once he gets on top of his opponents these days he seems to thrive on anything and everything. Good pressing from Arsenal also got the AZ men in black somewhat rattled. Arshavin had a cross dropped by their keeper but he recovered before Robin could get there. A second looked fairly inevitable and came just before half time when a fairly straight ball down the middle from Arshavin saw a great turn from Samir which left his marker for dead. Having worked some space he made the most of it and shot home. 2-0 and it looked to be a canter.

After the break we carried on where we'd left off and it took about six or seven minutes for us to extend our lead. Arshavin on this occasion picked out Fabregas who had slipped into the left hand channel before picked his spot to make it 3-0.

Alkmaar made some token attempts at our goal but they were mainly speculative efforts from range because they didn't seem able to play killer balls. Martens and Holman both had token efforts off target. Moisander was booked for shoving Cesc in the back. A double substitution by Arsenal saw Cesc pass the armband to Robin as he was replaced by Ramsey. But Robin was also replaced by Eduardo so he gave our Crozilian the armband. Good to see Vic Akers still wandering around in his shorts despite the drop in temperature that had our boys wearing long sleeves.

A Nasri free kick saw us go close with a header that was saved. Then Gibbs went even closer after cutting inside and letting one rip with his right peg, it went just the wrong side of the post. A fabulous move soon followed down our right. Eduardo with a great back heel to Arshavin who took it on before crossing towards the far post where Diaby slotted home. 4-0. Pure quality.

Ramsey had a shot saved. Almunia had to take a low cross from their left. Vermaelen was also called upon to do some fine defensive work. In other words we were coasting to the ninety minute mark. We were in passing mode but also saw a surging run down the right by Gallas. A Nasri corner was met with a reasonable shout for handball but AZ shot up the other end to score. It was a shot from Lens following his surge upfield that saw Almunia firmly rooted to the spot as it sped low to his left. 4-1 took the gloss off the scoreline but did set the Dutch fans off again.

59,345 were in tonight and we are all but in the next round. Four points clear with a vastly superior goal difference. Twenty-nine goals in just eight home games, our lowest score being two against Celtic. Can't be bad.