Arsenal Dominates Shakhtar Donetsk in UEFA Champions League Group Stage

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Arsenal Dominates Shakhtar Donetsk in UEFA Champions League Group Stage
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Cesc Fabregas Scoring From The Penalty Spot

This past Tuesday, Arsenal cruised past Shakhtar Donetsk, 5-1 at the Emirates Stadium in the third game of the group stage of the 2010-11 Champions League season.

Going into the game, both teams won their prior two group phase matches, so it was crucial for the Gunners to strike early and maintain their strong goal difference in the group phase.  

Supporters must have been very excited to see captain Cesc Fabregas return to the pitch and play an injury-free game before being substituted in the 63rd minute.  While his form was not 100 percent, the game served its purpose so he could shake off the cobwebs in preparation for the big EPL match against Manchester City this Sunday.  At the minimum, Fabregas was able to score from the penalty spot.

There is not much else to say after such a surprisingly easy victory.  With every passing day, Jack Wilshere continues to get better and better.  Only 18 years old, he is able to provide great support to Alex Song on defense, while also be an integral part of the attack.  

The only criticism about him on Tuesday was his late challenge on Tomas Hubschman.  Seeing this happen in two consecutive games can be worrisome to some.  Wilshere must be very careful that he does not become a yellow card waiting to happen. One Paul Scholes is enough in England!

On defense, there was not much of a threat from Donestk at any point of the game. Emmanuel Eboué looked solid up and down the pitch.  Over the past two games, Eboué has been able to establish a groove that will have him prepared for this Sunday when facing Man City.  Gael Clichy was effective as well, but like the rest of the defense, he was neither not a tremendous asset nor a liability.

In the middle, Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou were not in any danger at any time. Djourou, who spent all of last year injured, has been able to feature in four matches so far this season.  With Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny nursing injuries, the same duo may feature this Sunday. 

The MVP of Arsenal, Alex Song, is the unsung hero yet again.  Song was all over the pitch, both on offense and defense.  This campaign, he has been pushing forward with more frequency, which has drawn some concerns.  Looking at this situation from the "glass half full" approach, Song is just adding another weapon to his "arsenal," no pun intended.  Song's ability to start the attack and be that fifth defender is making him turn into the engine that makes Arsenal run like a high-powered truck.

The attack seemed very impressive and did not let up at any one point.  Samir Nasri has stepped up his game the past two seasons and is becoming quite the goal scorer. Nostalgic fans must love comparing Nasri to Robert Pirès.  

The only area of concern came from how Marouane Chamakh scored his fifth goal. Thinking he was offsides, he hesitated before realizing there was no whistle blown.  A world class keeper will contain a striker if he hesitates, so Chamakh must never let up even if up by four goals.  

With a very strong goal difference and three victories, Arsenal is in the driver's seat to finish atop of the group.  It would take a Wayne Rooney-like meltdown for the Gunners to not advance to the knockout stage.  

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