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Arsenal avoided a thrashing thanks to the heroic Almunia but their dreams of winning a trophy this season seem to be over.

Needs to think hard before the next leg. Why not go for two up front? Dudu is good enough

Needs to think hard before the next leg. Why not go for two up front? Dudu is good enough

A 1-0 defeat doesn’t seem to be a bad result, especially considering it could easily have been a 3 or 4 nil defeat. But the problem is it’s hard to expect such a strong attacking side like Manchester United not to score against a defence with Silvestre in the centre.

And if United get just one goal, then against the likes of Vidic, Ferdinand and van der Sar, it’s also hard to expect Arsenal to score 3 goals.

Ok we haven’t conceded yet at the Emirates for 8 consecutive league games but did Torres play in one of those games? No. Drogba? No. Rooney, Ronaldo? No. So it’s not too special a run. What would be special is to extend it for one more match and score 2 with it!

I have had to listen to a lot of taunts of United and Chelsea fans lately that Arsenal are just good enough for matches against small teams. I have to remind them of our wins at San Siro, Stamford Bridge and against Manchester United only to be replied what about big matches against big teams? Lost to Liverpool in the quarter final last year, Chelsea in a final this year and now to Manchester United in a semi final. So do the nerves get to this too young a side. Possibly.

The way we started the match, especially the first half hour it seemed like Manchester United was playing against West Brom. Attack after attack. The goal was very very poor defending. Who was doing the marking. Who was supposed to be at the far post. It was a disgrace really.

As the game went on Arsenal did get into the game but how many shots on target did they have all match?! I think just one.

What did Fabregas do all match. One good through ball and a weak shot on target and that’s it. But at least he did that. Others didn’t even manage to do that little something. Walcott is so good at taking defenders on but those defenders are of Middlesbough etc. Why was he so silent against Evra. Play like that in the next leg and say goodbye to the trophy chances for yet another season.

The only positives from the game were Sagna, Gibbs and Almunia. Sagna’s defending is awesome but the problem is his crossing. Gibbs is top top quality. I don’t think Ronaldo and Rooney managed to get past him even once! And his crossing, making runs forward are all good. Future England left back! Almunia showed he will be England’s next number 1! His reflexes, strong hands, decision making; all perfect.

Because of them, especially Almunia, we are still somehow in this tie; however bleak the chances may be. It is an uphill task now. But Wenger is confident his team can do it, the players must be confident as well. So lets just hope for the best.

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Almunia – 7 – He showed today how much we missed him. Despite being out for some time, he did not let it show. A very solid performance and that save to deny Aliadiere was just world class. It’s great to have him back for the semi final against Manchester United.

Eboue – 7 – Good enough. It was a good decision of Arsene to play Eboue at right back ahead of Sagna as the latter was very poor in the mid-week. His passing was good and he had a wonderful assist as well (No wonder why Wenger called him ‘Pass Master’!). But he was looking too eager to go forward which can leave a gap at the back.

Toure and Silvestre – 7 – Hardly had anything to do but when they did they did not put a foot wrong.

Gibbs – 7.5 – Yet another superb performance. The youngster is impressing everyone with surprisingly good performances. He knows when to go forward, making aggressive runs; links up quite well with Arshavin and hardly lets anyone past him when defending.

Nasri – 6.5 – He can put in decent tackles like he showed today but I prefer an attacking role for him. He did give away the ball a few times today. But still not a bad performance.

Denilson – 6.5 – Short passes all match but it’s good because he doesn’t have enough quality for through balls and long passes that the likes of Fabregas, Arshavin and Nasri do. But he was the holding midfielder and did his job well enough today. Still I feel Song is better.

Arshavin – 8 – Pure class. To come to the Premier League, then put up such world class performances in every single match is just amazing. Hats off to the lad.

Fabregas – 8.5 – He is just too good. His range of passing, vision and he even showed some cool finishing today. Amazing.

Walcott – 6.5 – He is always a constant threat to the opposition but sometimes his decision making lets him down. Passing the ball when he should be taking the defender on or the other way around . Also his first touch is quite poor at times and he needs to improve his crossing. No one is going to head crosses that come at 100 miles an hour. But he has immense talent no doubt about that so he will learn. His ability to take on defenders is a big big asset.

Bendtner – 7 – He worked really hard today. But he is a forward so he should play where the forward is supposed to be and not shift to the wing too often. Still it was one of the better performances from the young Dane.

Substitutes:

Djourou – 7 – He was good enough. Maybe because he hardly had anything to do! I would prefer him over Silvestre anytime, especially on Wednesday against Manchester United.

Diaby – 6.5 – Got a little time but he was quite intent on going forward an troubling the Boro defence. I know most wont agree but I rate him higher than Denilson.

Adebayor – 5 – Looked very rusty after returning from some time out due to injury. Couldn’t threaten the defence or keeper and wasted a good opportunity because of a poor touch.

Arsenal’s reserve left back Keiran Gibbs has proved to be an able deputy to Gael Clichy. The young Englishman has had to fill in at a crucial time of the season and has not disappointed.

Gibbs admits it is a dream come true to be in the Champions League and FA Cup finals. When asked whether he would even have imagined to go so far in the two competitions the Frechman replied “No!”

“It has been a dream. I love the club and it has been a great experience for me and I’m looking forward to what is to come.

“It was a brilliant moment [against Villarreal], Obviously it is a dream to play in one of the best competitions in the world and I enjoyed it.

“I thought the team did really well. We were all fired up. Everyone was well up for it and I think we showed that in our performance.

“The way we passed it, the way we went forward… we could easily have sat back and let them bring the game to us but we took it to them again and got a great result.”

Regarding the FA Cup semi final against Chelsea tonight Gibbs said:

“It is another big game. Everyone is excited again. We need to forget about Villarreal now. We need to switch on and get focused on Saturday’s game.”

First featured on Setanta.