Schalke outgun Gunners
Late goals from Dutch duo Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay sealed a 2-0 victory that gives the Germans the advantage in the table before the two meet again in Gelsenkirchen in two weeks’ time.
The home side had plenty of possession but could not find the required finishing touch, and they were eventually punished as Schalke showed their cutting edge to clinch a deserved victory.
The Gunners had been looking for a response to Saturday’s lacklustre 1-0 loss at Norwich, but failed to produce one as manager Arsene Wenger watched on from the stands, serving out his European touchline ban.
They must now regroup ahead of Saturday’s visit of Premier League strugglers QPR and next week’s Capital One Cup tie at Reading, but this poor showing will have done little to lift the mood ahead of Thursday’s Annual General Meeting.
The visitors started brightly, and had a penalty shout on 13 minutes following a quick break.
Jefferson Farfan played in Dutch winger Afellay, who fell over the outstretched arm of Vito Mannone.
There looked contact from the Italian keeper, whose handling error gifted Norwich their winning goal on Saturday. However, Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson waved away the appeals and instead brandished a yellow card to the Schalke player.
Gervinho had been preferred in the central striker’s role to Olivier Giroud, and midway through the first half was sent clear by the excellent Cazorla – but lacked support and rather than trying to go it alone for goal, was eventually hounded off possession as he tried to hold the ball up.
On 32 minutes, German centre-half Per Mertesacker made an important block to charge down Farfan’s fierce drive.
There was another scare for the hosts just before the break when Japan full-back Atsuto Uchida got clear down the right and crossed for Huntelaar at the near post, but the usually reliable Dutchman swept a poor effort wide.
Schalke made a change for the second half as American midfielder Jermaine Jones replaced Marco Hoger, and the Germans should have taken the lead when Farfan charged past Andre Santo down the right and crossed back to the penalty spot, but captain Benedikt Howedes blasted over.
Slowly Arsenal started to find their passing game, and Gervinho was unfortunate to lack support in the middle as he pushed on down the left to cut the ball across an empty six-yard box.
The hosts, however, still had plenty of defending to do as Schalke remained dangerous down both flanks.
On 70 minutes, Gervinho went into the referee’s book for going down under a challenge from Jones in the box, and the Ivory Coast forward was soon replaced by Giroud to ironic cheers from the home fans.
It was Schalke, though, who eventually got the breakthrough on 76 minutes.
Arsenal failed to clear their lines, and Afellay headed the ball back through the centre of the defence, into the path of Huntelaar, who made no mistake from 10 yards.
And it was game over with four minutes to go when Schalke again exposed Santo on the right and the low centre was swept home by Afellay.
The inquest started among the disappointed Arsenal players – a debate which no doubt will be continued by disgruntled shareholders on Thursday, many of whom jeered the home side off at the final whistle.
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a Ugandan writer and blogger. Studied information technology with major interests in Journalism.He is passionate about sports but at times ventures into other fields
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