Freddie!Thierry!Freddie! Arsenal 3 Juventus 1: What a game!

They will name a cocktail after fiery Freddie Ljungberg.

You will soon be be able to go into any bar in Europe and say, “Give me a double Freddie.”

The Swede’s two goals against Juventus gave Arsene Wenger his most exciting Champions League victory.

This was the win they had promised against Bayern Munich when they razored through the Germans to take a 2-0 lead.

But this time Arsenal sustained it and took the three points which open up Group D.

They got two results last night : Bayer Leverkusen thrashed Deportivo La Coruna 3-0.


What a night for The Professor!

And what a thriller for young keeper Stuart Taylor, who set the tone with a superb one- handed save from Del Piero inside five minutes.

The first 21 minutes was a mixture of the expected and the unexpected.

EXPECTED : Arsenal were very nervous for the first 15 minutes.

EXPECTED : Arsenal’s fast-forward passes were cut out again and again and again by tight-tackling Juve defenders. The Turin giants were the sharp, mobile, compact 4-4-2 unit we had always known they would be.

EXPECTED : Juve were the most physical team Arsenal have played since Leeds.

EXPECTED : Then Vieira shot, Buffon fumbled, Ljungberg stabbed home the first goal after 21 minutes.

EXPECTED : After that Arsenal played well, dominated and scored again with….

UNEXPECTED… their finest free-kick for about 15 years.

A Thierry Henry swerver into the postage stamp from 22 yards made it 2-0 after 28 minutes. If Henry can do that, why has he waited two and a half years to show us? This was a free-kick in the Ian Harte class. It was sensational. It was unstoppable. It was stunning.

It was mind-boggling in its velocity and accuracy.

Mind-boggling for Buffon, who did not think Henry could do that.

Henry took one step and hit the ball up and down and over the wall, and Buffon took half a step towards the shot and stopped – knowing he could not reach it.

Nedved got a yellow card for diving in the box, but Upson’s foot had caught his ankle. That should have been a penalty for Juve after 37, so Arsenal had a bit of luck there.

Stuart Taylor had made three excellent saves in the first half. He was flawless.

After 49 Zambrotta made a surging run, Trezeguet’s shot was saved by Taylor but when Campbell cleared off the line the ball hit Taylor and dribbled in for an unlucky own-goal.

At 2-1 it was a very intense, absorbing contest, balanced on a knife-edge.

Davids had replaced Tudor in the first half, after the first goal. But he was not playing well. When the Pitbull’s boot caught Henry on the Achilles the Frenchman went off for treatment.

All through the game the rugged Montero had been reading Kanu like an open book, taking the ball off him again and again. He did not fall for one of his feints or tricks. Kanu got a yellow card for a foul on the super-busy and ever-tidy Pessotto.

Then Bergkamp came on for Kanu, had a jab-volley saved and then set up a shot which Parlour slammed into the side-netting.

Ray Parlour had another storming game.

After 81 minutes he broke away at pace in midfield, chased by Davids.

Romping Ray shoulder-charged Davids to the deck in the centre circle and then accelerated away from a small pile of legs, arms and dreadlocks. A funny and memorable moment.

After 88 minutes Bergkamp set up the kind of goal the tabloids love to call the icing on the cake.

But this was not the icing. This move, this goal, was an extra five tiers of cake with 99 candles on it.

Bergkamp turned Montero inside out before flicking Freddie through for his second goal – pure genius.

Having created two goals for Freddie against Lazio last season,DB10 now conjured the strike that killed off Juventus.

We hacks use the term GENIUS too often.

But this was sheer genius, a goal that had the fans purring and one which will be shown for decades on TV.

Overall, this 3-1 victory was what Arsenal had promised against Bayern Munich but did not deliver.

It was Arsene Wenger’s first win against the big boys. So it was his biggest win, bigger than Valencia. It was his most meaningful win, and his most deserved win.

It was, above all, a triumph for his style of play, a magnificent demonstration of skill, pace, heart and attacking football.

It was the same kind of speed-football that sliced Bayern to ribbons for 50 minutes.

But this time, a year later against Juventus, they finished the job.They are learning.They are improving.

ARSENAL : Taylor, Lauren, Campbell, Upson, Cole, Ljungberg, Parlour, Vieira, Pires, Henry, Kanu.

Subs: Stack, Keown, Bergkamp,van Bronckhorst,Edu, Grimandi, Inamoto.

JUVENTUS : Buffon, Birindelli, Thuram, Montero, Pessotto, Zambrotta, Tudor, Tacchinardi, Nedved, Del Piero,Trezeguet.

Subs: Rampulla, Ferrara, Paramatti, Iuliano, Zenoni, Davids, Amoruso.

REFEREE : Manuel Melo Pereira (Portugal)

                           Posted on December 2nd 2008