Date: 13th August 2007 at 2:17pm
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After a night of Jim Beam I embark on another AFC Player Ratings and boy am I delighted to do so. 3 points in the first round is the right stuff and goes along with Arsenal like Jim Beam goes with Cola on the side.

I hate reruns and there ‘s only a select few films/directors/actors that I can watch when there’s nothing new. I can pick and choose between the Godfathers, Arlington Roads, Guy Ritchie, Star Treks and Wars, however when it comes to Arsenal I have no choice. I am hypnotized and I have to stay there even if the intro is so painful and disgusting as the pathetic lapse of focus of our keeper and his assist to Healy for his 1st Prem’ship goal. Oh well, here we go:

Jens Lehmann – 4.5 – I am sure he is relieved as the Arsenal managed to show why the comeback kings tag was ever so popular last year. I was not really surprised at his brain excursion burdened our back 4 as early as 51st second, but I was also confident that he’ll come good in the end. And so he did, managing to come up with some nice saves that came from the Fulham counter attacks. Another one like that and he’ll be nailed to the bench.

Bacary Sagna – 6.5 A solid debut for Baca. Was not troubled that much, and played some good attacking football sending in a good 1st half cross for a red shirt to shoot wide and an excellent 1-2 with Manu Eboue that created some openings. Defensively. he was quite safe and did show a few nice tackles. Positionally, he still needs to learn or adapt to the pace, but from what I saw, he seems to be able to cope well with it as well as the power of the EPL.

Kolo Toure – 8 – Kolo amazes me. Julio Baptista should immediately renounce his nickname and transfer it to Kolo, as he truly is a massive presence at the back and a force to be reckoned with. He came up with a couple of mazy runs (probably out of frustration) one of which led to the penalty from Bocanegra.

Bill Gallas – 7.5 – Compliments to Gallas who led this young defence with much authority. No mistakes, very organized and disciplined, Bill Gallas showed why he is a good choice for a new captain

Gael Clichy – 7 – Standard high level, tempo, sprinting up and down the left flank. I am really fond of Gael’s game, but on a couple of occasions he was caught out of position or flat footed.

Eboue – 5.5 – one of the worst games I’ve ever seen him play for Arsenal. Apart from one or two glimpses of his ability, he was a passenger in this game. His passing was poor, he was without ideas, and he rarely was a threat. Didn’t do a lot of backtracking either. Deservedly subbed in 62′ by Theo Walcott.

Cesc – 7 – some say that he was very quiet, and that may be true, but his touch of brilliance and his pass to Alex Hleb was enough to leave a mark – and give us the 3 pts (along with Alex’s cool finish). He did not look settled at all but laboured and put in some strong tackles. Took a couple of long range shots, none on target.

Flamini – 6.5 – Flamini’s performance can be summed up with one scene: him (with a little help from Cesc Fabregas) giving Warner a stereo experience of the French-Spanish-English version of ‘give-us-the-ball-ye-(c)***’ a traditional saying passed on by generations. Booked for this. Again I will say Matty has been drinking something during the off-season, his 1st touch has improved and the short passing is not always too short, on the contrary – his passes are accurate and with pace. He did his usual 110% effort and closed down opponents fairly well. Passionate and hard-working.

Rosicky – 7.5 – Tommy got into great shooting positions but his targeting was off. Especially early in the 2nd half when he latched onto a long ball, chested it down and shot straight at Warner. His link-up play was solid as ever and he did fine in fulfilling his defensive tasks as well. Subbed by Bendtner in 72′.

Alex Hleb – 9 – Man of the Match in my eyes. 1st half was better than 2nd, he had a clear penalty ‘not seen’ by Dowd, and thus Lawrie accused us of diving. Garbage I say. He was denied by Zat Knight a certain goal, and was killing their RB over and over again, going past him and cutting the ball inside looking for a red shirt. He dropped a bit in the 2nd half as marking was tighter, but how about that finish right at the death? Most of the moves in attack involved him and he took his regular share of kicks from behind. 9 to go Alex.

RvP – 7.5 – When he went down after that collision with Warner I was desperate. He was clutching his knee and it looked scary. Robin was overwhelmed and isolated in attack, and was denied space. When he did find it on a few occasions on through passes, his usually impeccable 1st touch betrayed him and had to settle for a pass where in other conditions he would blast a couple. His free kicks were inches wide and the penalty was unsaveable even for Tony ‘Three Hands’ Warner. Only after Bendtner was introduced did he have more space to operate. Subbed by Alex Song in the added time.

Subs:

Theo Walcott – 6 – took over from Eboue and continued in a similar manner. I got annoyed when he was isolated on the wing with 6’6 Zat Knight and didn’t skin him. I don’t know if he was mentally unprepared, was it lack of confidence in his skill or something else. It’s make or break for him this season and he needs to find his feet and start attacking opponents with confidence. The sooner the better.

Nick Bendtner – 7.5 – here is one who does not lack confidence AT ALL. Although on the pitch for a mere 20 minutes, he did some great things, won headers, held up the ball well and managed to squeeze a powerful strike in the box from a very difficult situation with his back towards the goal. Impressive.

Alex Song – excellent run to the midfield from the touchline and great celebration with his teammates.

Roll on Sparta Prague and hopefully we’ll have Dudu up front as well. Cheers,

G4L