Arsenal are all but through to the knockout stage after thumping Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1.
Arsenal welcomed Cesc Fabregas back and Tomas Rosicky replaced Andrey Arshavin as Arsenal played their usual 4-2-3-1, but with Nasri and Rosicky providing more width than normal. Shakhtar left Douglas Costa and Eduaro on the bench as they went for a more defensive 4-2-3-1.
The match started out slowly, with Arsenal content to sit back and let Shakhtar move the ball around in their own half. Even after going fortuitously up 1-0, they were still content to let Shakhtar move the ball around in defence. Shakhtar, however, were unable to string any coherent play together, and when they did, Arsenal’s midfield was quick to press the man in possession.
The most interesting aspect of Arsenal’s play on Tuesday was the fluid midfield of Jack Wilshere, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song. Last year Song was ofter the most defensive midfielder, and was quite successful; this year he has become more attack minded player, and at times on Tuesday he was the furthest forward midfielder, and at times the deepest. Wilshere and Fabregas would sit back for Song, and it was remarkable how deep Fabregas and Wilshere were at times. After Denilson came on, Wilshere was liberated to move forward, as Denilson was more content to sit back and hold, and Wilshere promptly scored.
It was amazing how deep Arsenal sat back on Tuesday, and somewhat uncharacteristic. Perhaps they were worried about being caught out like they were by Birmingham and West Brom, or maybe they were conserving energy, being confident of there ability to break up play.
Chamakh soon added a 5th, and then Eduardo got a well received consolation to close out an easy game for Arsenal who never looked in danger of losing.
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