Lokomotiv Moscow 0 Arsenal 0: No goals in Moscow

Last updated : 05 October 2003 By Brian Dawes

Henry competes for the ball
We also got a Dutch ref who wasn't as overly fussy as his Premiership counterparts and a packed 30,000 stadium full of enthusiasm where the strains of Arsenal chanting could still occasionally be heard.

The big news for Arsenal was the team. No Vieira, no Campbell, no Ljungberg, no Bergkamp (as usual). So Edu, Wiltord, Parlour and Keown were all in the line up. Martin was captain and he led the team out in Russia where we usually fare badly. Both teams however had poor records of late on the European stage and neither side imposed themselves to any massive degree in this match.

Arsenal started brightly with a good opening spell where the major highlight was a great through ball from Edu to put Henry in with a chance down the middle. I'm not sure if Henry leaned back or whether the ball took a slight bobble but either way our best chance of the half finished well over the bar. Lokomotiv came back at us and had a spell where they bossed the game. There was a period where we looked very shaky. Cole and Lehmann cleared one off the line in this spell from a near post header that was somewhat gifted by our lack of marking. A good block was also required by Keown on one occasion to prevent a goal from the team in red. Pat Rice could be seen screaming from the touchline for us to get further forward as we let the home team peg us back far too deep. Defending in numbers is good but not too deep, it was only late in the half that we took back the initiative, mainly thanks to good work from Edu who grew in confidence as the game progressed, although he was pretty wasteful with his free kicks. Ashvetia had a great chance when put through with Toure caught but missed his chance for any easy pot at goal.

Once more our most expensive player ever failed to stay on side during what was probably our best move of the half. Staying on side is not rocket science and for that much money a week someone ought to be able to teach him how to do it. If a ten-year-old wanted to play centre forward he'd be required to stay on side, so why the feck a French international is allowed to get away with such piss poor play is beyond me. For fecks sake learn the offside rule Wiltord! This alone would avoid the breakdown of something approaching a hundred or more Arsenal attacks per season!

Parlour had a shot well saved. Pires had a good swerving shot after being given loads of room to advance. Toure headed a corner just past their far post with a great run and a fine effort. We were coming good just before the break and Arsene and co in their luxury armchairs in the 'dugout' must have felt better about things than they had earlier in the half. 0-0 half time.

A good early cross by Cole was wasted, as no one appeared to be attacking their box. Lehmann was required to act as the last line of defence quite a number of times as Lokomotiv resorted to a longer ball game after the break. Headers outside his box and high catches being the order of the day. Henry had a header from range from a Lauren cross but their keeper was nether really bothered by it. A fine move saw Henry take it on and feed Pires who was in space but couldn't get enough on the shot to make it count. A fine chance gone begging.

Henry put through by Edu
Edu impressed me in patches, Kolo looked to have most things in control, our full backs were not exposed, but we didn't have the fluid touch. We didn't look like killers and Henry didn't get the usual high level of service. Lehmann looked a bit iffy with one shot from distance but overall he was quite solid. Loskov fired one over as Arsenal backed off. Lokomotiv seemed to lack the full confidence to take us on after the break. We had increased possession and worked it quite well in spells but couldn't find the killer ball as the Moscow team increasingly defended in numbers.

One frenetic spell of battering their goal saw Parlour, Cole and Pires all with chances inside the box and a big handball appeal; this had followed a good run by Henry. Kolo was given offside when he timed his run to break through from a free kick and nearly scored with a header, but he clearly wasn't offside. One good chance for Lokomotiv saw a cross-field ball fired into orbit, Maminov also had a good shot saved by Jens. At the other end Henry had a shot deflected for a corner. Kolo did really well to block a shot following a quick free kick. Nizhegorodov got the first yellow when he axed Henry on a good run down the middle. The free kick from range was easy for their keeper though.

We had some more moves involving Henry; Parlour and Pires but we never quite got our act together convincingly enough. Pires looked knackered late on but maybe he was just tired of avoiding tackles. Wiltord set up Parlour but he couldn't keep the half volley down. One final free kick in the three minutes added time saw Edu make it easy for their keeper.

Over all an away point might prove to be good, but we might equally rue the lost opportunity of three points, who knows at this stage? With the players we were missing however we might all have settled for a draw pre-match. Players missing however is something we are going to have to learn to live with, in all competitions. A more obvious point is that we're gonna have to score in Europe if we want to progress and we seem a little timid about going full throttle right now. I don't know why because we have the firepower if we choose to commit it.