Sunday, August 7, 2011

Benfica 2 Arsenal 1

As the cliché says, this was a game of two halves. Arsenal played their stronger team in the first half and the fringe players in the second half, while Benfica did the other way round.
Benfica pressed Arsenal very hard from the beginning, but as they ran out of steam, Arsenal eventually started finding their way behind the Benfica defense line. The goal came out of a beautiful linkage play starting from RVP and ending with RVP. There was intensity in the game on the both sides.
The second half was a totally different story. Arsenal brought on six new players at half time, which included, to my horror, Squillaci. The whole first-half team, except Gervinho and Aaron Ramsey, were gradually replaced by the 86th minutes. While the defensive frailty was all too familiar, unlike the previous pre-season matches, Arsenal could not even dominate in possession.
If Arsenal are to fight in all four fronts again this season, depth in the squad will be a key element for success. The poor performance in the second half against Benfica's world-class players highlighted the fact that Arsenal's second-string players were not good enough at the top level.
Benfica also lost out for the Champions League automatic qualification spot in the domestic league last season, but they seemed to have made good reinforcement with a number of quality signings. Arsene Wenger reportedly said there might be a "super quality" signing, which could happen next week. Keep fingers crossed. 

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