Thursday, 22 August 2013

Ramsey outstanding -Ironman Koscielny "ok" -Suarez deal "dead" -Wenger wants £40m Benzema

Morning Gooners.

Well that wasn't as difficult as everyone made out it was going to be...

Three goals and none conceded will make our job in the second leg next Tuesday much easier. Fenerbahce were poor, lets not beat around the bush. They were worse than Aston Villa. But last night the opposition didn't have the referee on their side.

Arsenal were dominant in the first half although we had no cutting edge in front of goal. Wojciech Szczesny had nothing to do in the opening 45 minutes as the home side didn't have a single shot on target.

The talking point from the first half was an appalling kick to the head to Laurent Koscielny from a high boot from Webo, who was handed just a yellow card for his challenge. Arsenal physio Collin Lewin describing the injury to Sky's pitchside reporter as one of the worst head wounds he's seen. Lolo was taken to hospital to ensure he'd not broken his skull. Olivier Gioud later posted a picture of himself and Koscielny on the plane, giving the "ok" hand signal.

Injury to the Frenchman meant that Bacary Sagna moved to the heart of the defence alongside Per Mertesacker and Carl Jenkinson came on at right back. It seems that the manager will use that defensive combination on Saturday against Fulham.

It was our left back Kieran Gibbs who was in the right place at the right time to score our opening goal. He broke to the far post as Theo Walcott turned in the box to square the ball and smashed his shot into the roof of the net. It was neat build up play by Aaron Ramsey who made the goal. The Welshman waiting and waiting until the right move was made and threaded the ball through to Walcott who had got behind his defender.

Had the game been played at the Grove, I have no doubt fans would have been shouting at Ramsey to shoot from the edge of the area. But he was patient in waiting for the right opportunity to present itself - there wasn't a clear shot available for him - and got the ball into Walcott's feet for a perfect cross to Gibbs.

Next up it was chance for the Welshman to score one himself. Wilshere passed to his team mate inside the Fenerbache half after winning the ball back and the Welshman charged towards goal. No one came to close him down and the opportunity presented itself to him to have a strike on goal. It was very much in the same ilk as Cesc Fabregas' goal against AC Milan a few seasons ago. The keeper got a hand to Ramsey's shot but the strike was too powerful. 2-0 Arsenal.

And to cap it off, Theo Walcott was the victim of some rough defending and the fifth official came to our aid awarding us a penalty. Walcott brought the ball down at pace while still on the run in the box, played it inside himself so that he could get his body in front of the ball and the defender and was taken down. Giroud stepped up and took the spot kick which he cooly converted.

Szczesny had to make a couple of good saves in the second half and it was good to see him back to his usual self after a poor performance on Saturday.

Game over and three lovely away goals. Of course the tie is only at its halfway point but I'd be hugely surprised if we were turned over at the Grove.

Afterwards the manager said:

"We did not come in shaking but came in resolute and determined and with a desire to take the game to them and overall we were in control. 
"This team has shown a lot of mental strength. I told you yesterday that you had forgotten that this team has lost only one game since March under very, very special circumstance.  
"Of course the environment we faced was difficult but the only way to do it is to go out there and play football like you want to play."
The result almost certainly puts us into the Champions League group stages and it's now time for the manager to bolster his squad. We need a central defender certainly, a goalkeeper possibly, a central midfielder defiantly, a creative midfielder wouldn't go a miss either and a star striker is a must.

Wenger said post match the deal for Luis Suarez is dead. But the Daily Mirror believe we'll now go after Real Madrid's Karim Benzema. Clearly the next ten days are going to be very busy at the club. But we've got a huge fixture to be worried about away at Fulham on Saturday. That needs as much focus as our transfer business. We need to get Premier League points on the board fast.

That's it for today. More tomorrow.

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