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Schalke 04 2-2 Arsenal: match report

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Arsenal drop a two-goal cushion, but come away with a point at Schalke.

I agree, Vito
I agree, Vito
Christof Koepsel

0-1 Theo Walcott 18'
0-2 Olivier Giroud 26'
1-2 Klaas-Jan Huntelaar 45+2'
2-2 Jefferson Farfan 67'

Arsenal were able to create a two goal lead in the first half, but a pair of mistakes allowed Schalke to come back and equalize, netting each team a point and keeping Arsenal one point behind the Germans.

The first fifteen minutes of the match went mostly Schalke's way, with Arsenal having issues maintaining possession and Schalke creating a few chances. In the 18th minute, though, an Arsenal aerial ball forward was poorly headed by a Schalke defender, and it fell directly into Olivier Giroud's path. He was tackled well in the box but again the ball fell Arsenal's way, and Theo Walcott was able to round the keeper and score.

Eight minutes later Arsenal were able to net another, as Lukas Podolski was able to carve out a niche on the left flank, just enough to cross the ball in front of goal. Giroud was charging in and blasted a header into the Schalke net, and Arsenal had a pair of goals to start on the road. Things looked good.

But when you're playing a remotely competent team - and Schalke are surely that and more - mistakes can cost you. In first half injury time Santi Cazorla had possession not far from the Arsenal box, and slipped. He wasn't the only player to slip for no apparent reason in the match, but his was the most costly. Lewis Holtby passed the ball in to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who scored just before the stroke of halftime to put Schalke back in the match.

Much of the second half consisted of Schalke pressure, and the one real chance Arsenal constructed fell apart via dubious means. Lukas Podolski was working Marco Höger on the flank, and Höger twisted his ankle and fell to the ground as Podolski beat him. Podolski continued to play - as is his right, particularly in such an attacking area - and nearly had a shot on goal, but the referee blew play dead. Presumably this was because he believed Höger had a head injury, which would have been perfectly legitimate, but he didn't, and there was no good reason for play to stop. Podolski was furious, and kicked the ball into the advertising boards at the endline, earning a booking. It was a poor reaction, but for a legitimate reason.

Soon after Schalke made Arsenal pay. A cross from the left flank found Farfan (inexplicably) totally alone, and as he cut in from his right flank the Arsenal defense swung in to cut him off. He shot, and Thomas Vermaelen's desperate lunge to clear the ball ended up directing the ball straight into the net. It was another error, and really this one was avoidable with better marking. Possibly it was his center back instincts pulling him "out" of position, but either was Farfan should not have had as much room to work as he did.

The rest of the game was, for the most part, dead, as Schalke didn't want to concede on the counterattack and Arsenal were unable to keep the ball long enough to build any kind of attack. There was one chance very late as another odd ball found its way over and through the Schalke defense, and Theo Walcott fought off a couple defenders to take a shot. Which he hit directly into Lars Unnerstall's feet.

So it's a draw, and before the game that wouldn't have been a bad result at all, but after taking a 2-0 lead it stings, a bit. Really if Arsenal take care of business and beat Montpellier (who have been eliminated already) and Olympiakos they should be fine, but this loss of two points here is a bit annoying. The overall performance was again a bit mediocre, and a few players (Cazorla, Wilshere) are starting to look tired. I try not to be That Guy, but Arsenal really need to get a win against Fulham this weekend to get things on the right track again.