Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Arsenal 2-0 Fenerbahce - The Aaron Ramsey Show

Arsenal won the first leg of their qualifying round for the Champions League 3-0 away to Fenerbahce last week which set them up very nicely for last night's second leg. Their Turkish opponents came to the Emirates needing to win by three clear goals to knock Arsenal out. Arsenal had played in the qualifying rounds on five previous occasions and had won every single game home and away.

The team was more or less as expected with only two changes from the side which won 3-1 away to Fulham on Saturday. Nacho Monreal came in at left back for Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere came into the midfield in place of Tomas Rosicky. There weren't many other options open to Arsene Wenger with the injuries currently at the club and the threadbare nature of the squad.

Fenerbahce knew they had to come at Arsenal from the start and tried to dictate the pace of the game, but it was Arsenal who took control. There were chances at both ends and just over halfway through the first half Arsenal scored the first goal to make Fenerbahce's task even more impossible. Lukas Podolski tried to set up Theo Walcott but the ball was blocked and popped up for Aaron Ramsey to stroke home.

There were more chances for both teams before half time with Wojciech Szczesny making some good saves for Arsenal as Fenerbahce tried in vain to get back into the game. The second half began badly for Arsenal with Podolski picking up a hamstring injury which looks likely to keep him out for a few weeks. It was a bad blow for Arsenal with the limited options they have at the moment, but hopefully they will add some reinforcements before Sunday's game against Spurs. 

Gibbs came on for Podolski and then Yaya Sanogo came on for Olivier Giroud on the hour mark to give Arsenal's centre forward a little rest before the big game on Sunday. The substitutions made little difference to the flow of the game as Arsenal continued to dominate and looked the most likely to get the next goal. When that next goal came it was an absolute beaut and it was that man Ramsey who got it again.

With 18 minutes left Arsenal went down the left hand side in a flowing move and Gibbs cut the ball back for the on running Ramsey to volley home. He controlled the volley off the inside of his foot into the corner of the net to take his tally to three goals in Arsenal's first four games. He has had a fantastic start to the season and has been by far Arsenal's best player so far.

When he suffered that horrific injury at the hands of Ryan Shawcross there were fears he would never reach the potential he showed before that. It looks like he has finally put it all behind him though and Arsenal are starting to reap the rewards. It's going to cause some selection headaches for the boss when he has all of his players available but they're problems he should be happy to have.

Ryo Miyaichi came on for Walcott a couple of minutes later as Arsenal made their final change of the game. There were a few more chances after that with Carl Jenkinson almost getting his first goal for Arsenal right at the very end only to be denied by the Fenerbache keeper. Just before the final whistle Ramsey went off to leave Arsenal playing with 10 men for the last few minutes.

Hopefully Ramsey was only taken off as a precaution as he will be the first name on the team sheet for Sunday. Wilshere took quite a few knocks in the game as the Fenerbahce players seemed to take turns to kick him in the second half in particular. With Podolski already out Arsenal need both of those players to be fit and raring to go against Spurs.

The 5-0 aggregate victory was a great one for Arsenal and they have done really well to score eight goals and concede only one in three games in the last seven days. The group stages of the Champions League await them yet again and they will be one of the eight top seeds in Friday's draw. With qualification secured the boss can now go out and spend some of his hoard which he has protected so stubbornly all summer long. 

Reinforcements are needed and they are needed before Sunday's game. It is impossible to believe that Arsenal will not bring in the quality they need before that game as the transfer window closes the next day. The boss said he will not wait until the last day of the window to do his business so we can only assume there will be a few new players to be introduced to the home fans on Sunday afternoon. 

Fenerbahce might not have been the toughest opponents Arsenal have faced in the Champions League, but before the first leg there was some real fear among Arsenal fans that might beat an Arsenal team which were struggling. There was also plenty of speculation in the media of the consequences of an aggregate defeat to them, but Arsenal rose to the occasion and didn't allow it to happen. You can only beat the team that is put in front of you and Arsenal did it comfortably in both legs. 

They will face much tougher tasks in the group stages but they are well used to playing at that level. It could be a very interesting draw with some very good teams seeded below Arsenal. Hopefully they can progress through to the knockout stages as they seem to do every single season.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I am surpised at Szczesny and the saves he mad in a crucial time during the game which I believe led to Arsenal scoring their Goals - have been critisizing Szczesny for the past 3 years I just hope he has turned the corner for the better I aslo like Sagna at center back. Again I have been a big critic of him too dueto his poor Crosses but I see him at the CB position for the better