Alkmaar are a good technical side and passed the ball around neatly, they did lack a real quality cutting edge though, it was neat and attractive but it did not scare me. In the first half we looked very organised, solid and it seemed as if we could up it whenever we saw fit. Vermaelen and Gallas looked assured, a good partnership is developing there, Vermaelen attacks the ball so well, his slide rule passing is also something to behold. Song is a rock, Diaby was remarkably sensible and efficient, he didn't try to do much as he sometimes does by overcomplicated matters. Cesc probed and was a tad loose with the odd touch. Eboue was excellent, bright, inventive and direct.
The classiest act around though is our little Russian, everything he does is perfectly measured, well almost everything, every touch, every pass, every timing of a decision, he has such a natural knack for the game. Our first good chance came when Arsavin broke centrally, he then released Diaby in the inside left channel, he then squared for RVP who controlled, came inside and forced a decent save. The goal had a similar architecture, Arshavin pressed and won the ball centrally, he attacked and released RVP in the inside left slot, he squared unselfishly for Cesc who did the rest. One nil it was. It remained one nil til the break but it felt more than a one nil performance to me, although AZ Alkmaar are no world beaters, we just looked so composed and set up for the job in hand.
The second half began in similar fashion, we looked comfortable and until the three quarter mark we strolled onwards. The problem was that our comfort became a little complacent as the half wore on. We were a tad sloppy with the ball, Alkmaar suddenly built up a mini head of steam after Diaby's inadvertent chesting almost ended up in his own net, it fortunately bounced off the top of the crossbar. We didn't make the most of some good positions in the final third, Alkmaar had a cracking chance from a free kick on which we went to sleep and the ball crept only a yard wide with Mannone stranded. Vela should have had a penalty when chopped down in the box, then from a hopeful direct ball, it was nodded down and smashed home from eight yards out, 1-1 in the ninety third minute.
For all our class and clear superiority over Alkmaar, if you only have a one goal advantage then your position remains eminently precarious. We need to learn from this as this would be important dropped points in the league, as it is we are in a very strong position in the group and it is not the end of the world. It's a good reminder though that you need to finish teams off and that you need to maintain your concentration for the whole ninety minutes. There was some positive though to take home, overall we were solid, Diaby and Song had excellent games in the midfield, while Arshavin and RVP linked up very well up front.