FC Schalke 2 Arsenal 2

The performance may have been much better than those of late, but having flown into a two goal lead with Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud netting within the opening 26 minutes Arsenal contrived to allow Schalke to claim a point at home. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar halved the deficit before pressure from the German side saw Jefferson Farfan level. Vito Mannone produced some fine saves from Huntelaar in particular, and perhaps with the last kick of the game, Walcott was unlucky not to have won it for the Gunners.

Schalke started brightly and saw Ibrahim Affelay shoot low, but Mannone saved well to his right. Schalke came again with a
Howedes header over the bar. Having weathered the early German storm, Arsenal took the lead.
Neustrsder’s header, fell into the path of Giroud racing clear. He found his path blocked but Walcott was on hand to follow up with an opener that will add to his growing confidence.

The confidence that Arsene Wenger spoke of appeared to have returned as the Gunners passed their way to create their second goal.
Giroud fed Podolski on the left and despite a stumble, th German sent over a superb cross that Giroud buried with a powerul header.

A two goal lead? Well you’d rather have it then not, but Arsenal were soon to be exposed in defence. Farfan had already blasted over the bar and just on the stroke of half time, Cazorla’s slip was to prove costly. Schalke worked the ball to Huntelaar, and this time he got the better of Manonne.

The Gunners were then to stand up to further German pressure, and with only the Arsenal ‘keeper to beat, Mannone blocked with legs from Huntelaar .Playing a disciplined defensive role, Mikel Arteta cleared off the line after corner, with Jack Wilshere having another assured night, when the lack of experienced players would again cost Arsenal.

The Schalke presssure continued with the Arsenal defence, and as at the the Emirates two weeks ago, Schalke sensed it. Andre Santos was not entrusted to left back and after his nightmare iin their first encounter, and that half time shirt swop with Robin van Persie at Old Trafford, you couldn’t blame Wenger for that. Thomas Vermaelen has not come to terms with his role as captain and his defensive duties, and asked to cover at left back was not within his remit.

With not effective left hand side cover, Farfan probed then struck into the roof of the net off the unfortunate Vermaelen

Amazingly Arsenal could and perhaps feel that they should have won the game. Walcott raced clear but shoot keeper Unnerstall, with Giroud placed nearby with what appeared to be a better option. Wenger surely has to sign Walcott up to the better deal he seeks and was quick to praise his striker.

” He did well, very well. He had a positive attitude and was fresh as well. He was the only one you always felt could make a difference and it was no coincidence he had the chance in the final minute,” said Wenger

After lacklustre performances on all fronts, Wenger stressed that the need to get th confidence back was key to his players.

” For us it was important first of all not to lose and if possible to win. We managed the first part, not the second one. I felt that overall we played reasonably well, but dropped physically in the second half. The regret we have is that we conceded the goal just before half time and we missed the.

(Walcott’s) chance at the end of the game. I think the two, of course, have a big impact on the result overall. Schalke never gave up and worked hard. I believe we have shown a good response to Saturday’s game and you feel the team is getting better. I think in one month, if we continue to develop, we will be there,” contined Wenger.

Arsenal remain in second spot one point behind Shalke with seven points. Crucially however the Gunners still have qualification matters in their own hands. Next up will be Montpellier the Emirates. The Ligue 1 side were eliminated after their loss to Olympiacos, who lie in third place on six points.