There are a lot of examples of players that have their revenge against clubs that a) didn’t want to sign them or b) wrote them off too easily. For instance, Real Madrid – arguably the champions in both categories – opted for David Beckham in the summer 2003 because he had a much bigger commercial value than a certain Brazilian that was also within the reach for Los Merengues. That very same Brazilian would get his revenge in 2005 at Santiago Bernabeu – he scored twice in the convincing 3:0 victory and earned standing ovations from Real Madrid fans.
Arsenal have had their own demon that simply doesn’t want to stop haunting Gunners and Gooners. His name is Didier Drogba.
The Ivorian striker has been a personification of Arsenal’s troubles and the biggest individual obstacle on our road to trophies during an 8-year-long barren period. It started with his two-goal-performance in the 2005 Community Shield that Chelsea won 2:1. He scored both goals in the 2007 League Cup Final to complete a come-back after Theo Walcott scored an opener and he did the very same thing in the league match in 2007-08 after Sagna put us ahead. Drogba also scored in the 2:1 victory in the FA Cup Semifinal and, as you probably guessed even if you have never seen a match that features Arsenal and Drogba, we scored the opener in that match (Walcott).
During his spell with Chelsea, the Ivory Coast striker scored 13 goals in 14 matches against Arsenal and tasted defeat against the Gunners on just one occasion (December 2010, 3:1). Most of Drogba’s goals against us came in the last 10 minutes of a game which makes this story even more frustrating for the Gunners.
The worst part is yet to come – Didier Drogba was nearly signed by Wenger in 2001. Of course, he wasn’t a world-class player yet like he has been since 2003-04 in Olympique Marseille but who knows how our decade would look had Wenger signed Drogba from Le Mans.
Today’s match was an opportunity for Wenger to give Cazorla and Yaya Sanogo some playing time given neither of them featured in Asia Tour. Sagna was in the heart of the defense again, next to Mertesacker. Szczesny was in goal again after an insecure performance of Lukasz Fabianski against Napoli, Arteta and Ramsey formed the well-known shield for the defence. Drogba started the game on the bench, alongside Wesley Sneijder.
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In a way, today’s match against Galatasaray had a historical burden on it. The 2000 UEFA Cup Final wasn’t the happiest memory for Gooners and now 13 years later Arsene Wenger and Fatih Terim faced each other again as the managers of Arsenal and Galatasaray respectively. If there was a positive side, it was the return of Emmanuel Eboue to Emirates.
It could have been a dream start for his Arsenal career for Sanogo. It was the very first minute when the French youngster took the ball from a defender, zig-zaged past him but his touch, a little bit too heavy, gave him little chance to produce a proper shot so Muslera made a routine save. It took 20 minutes before we created another chance. Ramsey’s long ball found Walcott (though, one might say that it is more precise that Walcott found the ball) who showed a great first touch and not-so-great finish as his chip ended just a little bit wide.
Arsenal mostly dominated the first half but created very little or nothing when it came to clear-cut chances. Yaya Sanogo showed a great desire to score but also a lack of understanding with his new team-mates. On the other side of the pitch, Amrabat showed his pace to our defenders but he was too lonely to endanger Szczesny who made one well-timed dash to clear every opportunity of danger in front of our goal.
And then, out of nowhere, we took the lead. Walcott crossed from the left flank, Mertesacker prevented himself from touching the ball that fooled Muslera and ended in his left corner. It was a goal that gave Arsenal a lead on the Emirates Cup table. It was also the only goal in the first half of the game.
After the interval, Terim introduced Colak, Sneijder and Drogba. Wenger made no changes.
The visitors became more dangerous and ambitious after Sneijder and Drogba entered the pitch. Drogba and Colak had their chances to equalize but the result remained the same. Wenger tried to refresh his team by introducing Giroud, Zelalem and Miquel. Unfortunately, the introduction of Miquel at left full-back wasn’t exactly the best idea. The Spaniard can’t play at full-back due to lack of pace. Giroud, on the other hand, had two shots on the visitors’ goal. As the time went by, it was more obvious that Galatasaray look like the better side. Sneijder fired a shot that was saved and deflected by Szczesny while Sabri and Amrabat caused problems for our defenders with their technical abilities and pace.
In the 78th minute, referee John Moss pointed to the spot after Miquel (allegedly) fouled Drogba in the box. It was a very dubious decision but we know by now that Drogba is a brilliant diver. The Ivorian took the penalty himself and equalized.
Galatasaray didn’t stop there and they kept coming for a second. Amrabat fired a ball over the bar. That was a teaser before Drogba scored a brilliant goal that decided the winner of both the game and the Emirates Cup. Sneijder sent a long ball into the box where Drogba picked it with a marvelous first touch. He zig-zaged past Mertesacker and fired a left-footed shot to seal the victory for the visitors.
It happened again – Walcott scores an opener but Drogba comes in the last ten minutes of the game and takes the trophy away from us.
Our defence was too soft again, especially when they dealt with Drogba. The absence of Koscielny was clearly visible though we will never know whether he would be able to deal with Drogba. Our attack offered pretty much nothing for large parts.
We need reinforcements and we needed them yesterday.
on the performance…
We had a contrasting performance. In the first half we had a good performance, we were in control, they didn’t look dangerous, and we were not capable of maintaining physically that pace and that rhythm. In the second half we dropped. It’s a long time since I’ve seen two such different halves. Then I believe we were not capable of keeping the ball and we were punished. But it’s a good preparation for us.
on Yaya Sanogo…
Yes [I was pleased with him]. Considering he just came back from holiday and only had three or four days of practice, what he did is encouraging.
on Didier Drogba…
He did well when he came on. He still has the resources, you could see that yesterday as well. He has kept that physical strength and his intelligent game and he finished well. But I must say we were exhausted in the end, especially Mertesacker who played the two full games and was just back from Asia. He [Drogba] took advantage of it. Honestly the penalty was very, very, very, very, very, very soft! It was classic Drogba.
on the Champions League draw on Friday…
We just want to be ready. We have only 90 minutes now before we start the championship and it is important that we recover a little bit from the two days and prepare well for our next game against Man City, a friendly in Helsinki. Then it’s important that we start strongly in the championship because that will have an influence on our performance in the Champions League.
on the prospect of a difficult draw…
It’s difficult, it’s a stressful situation, but we did fight very hard to be in that situation and now it’s time to take advantage of the fact we finished fourth and we have an opportunity to qualify. Of course it’s always a very tricky period but we have the experience, we have done it before.
on getting players in before the European tie…
Let’s count first on what is here, and if we can add something then we will do. It’s very difficult to predict that that will all be sorted out before we play in the Champions League qualifier. I think we have enough quality to achieve it with the players we have at the moment, if we can bring more in before that it is even better.
on Cesc Fabregas…
I haven’t heard that comment [that it is reportedly up to Fabregas if he leaves Barcelona]. I haven’t read it so I’m always a bit cautious to answer what a manager is supposed to have said. I don’t know. What I know is that Fabregas will stay one more year at least in Barcelona, that’s the information I have. If that changes, I don’t know, but I have been told that.
on Arsenal’s approach to Suarez…
We try [to act properly], we always try to act properly. But the transfer is always an agreement between three parties. We have always done that.
on Gervinho and Chamakh…
Gervinho is on a good way to Roma, and Chamakh is on a good way to Crystal Palace.
on Ryo Miyaichi…
He is injured. He has a crack in the rib that he got in Japan in the first game. He hid it from us because he was desperate to play in Japan. At the moment he is injured for two weeks.
Jenkinson Sagna Mertesacker Gibbs
Arteta (c) Ramsey
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