Its been a very busy week for the Arsenal with 3 matches since the season opener against Newcastle united and, luckily for me, all of them have been televised.As there is so much to catch up with, here are three brief reviews on the matches. Lets start, logically, with the first game last tuesday:
UCL QR3; Arsenal 1-0 Udinese
Arsenal began their qualifying campaign for this years champions league against definitely the toughest oppenents that they could have been drawn against, the fourth best team in Italy, Udinese. The game began in a very open manner with both teams starting out on the offensive. However, it was Arsenal who took the lead in the fourth minute, as Aaron Ramsey crossed from the right flank, putting the ball on a sixpence for Theo Walcott to volley home from close range with his left foot. The perfect start. However it was downhill from there. Udinese found their feet and, spearheaded by the impressive Anonio Di Natale, completely dominated the rest of the game. The Italians created numerous chances and where very unlucky not to score and, truth be told, should have won the match but for the exploits of 'keeper Wojciech Szczesny who pulled of several fine saves. Arsenal hung on to their slender 1-0 lead and would take it with them to northern Italy eight days later for a match which was by no means a foregone conclusion based on the two sides very differing performances.
EPL Match Day 2; Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool
Ramsey (78 og)
Arsenal's first home game of the premier league season was never going to be an easy one with suspensions and injuries decimating the squad coupled with big spending Liverpool strengthening their own, and so it was proved as two late goals saw the Merseysiders to their first victory at Arsenal for eleven years. Again, the game was a very open encounter with both sides playing flowing, open football that was very easy one the eye. There was a problem almost immediately for the gunners as, after only a quarter of an hour, centre back Laurent Koscielny was withdrawn due to a back spasm. He was replaced by eigtheen year old Ignasi Miquel, making his league debut. another full debutant, Emmanuel Frimpong, would not start the game very brightly, picking up a yellow card for fronting up to Dirk Kuyt after barely five minutes. It was an act of petulance that would come back to haunt the youngster. While the game was played at a fast pace, there where not too many chances created in the first half; Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson both having headers saved by Szczesny for Liverpool, and Frimpong and Samir Nasri, on his last appearance in an Arsenal shirt, both going close from long range.
The secong half followed the same pattern, both sides sharing chances with Arsenal with the slight upperhand until, on the seventieth minute, Frimpong went charging in to a tackle with Lucas Leiva, catching the Brazilian with a high kick, and deservedly picking up another yellow. He was lucky it wasn't a straight red. Immediately the difference between the two squads was shown, as Liverpool called upon Raul Mereiles and Luis Suarezto win them the match. They duly delivered. In the 78th minute, the two exchanged passes, finishing with a cross by the uruguyan. Miquel attempted to hook clear, but his effort rebounded back off Ramsey, looped over Szczesny and nestled in the corner. Arsenal immediately showed the weakness of their squad, as they were only able to bring on Henri Lansbury as a response and, as they searched in vain for an equaliser, a fine flowing move by liverpool was finished of as again the two substitues combined with Meireles teeing up Suarez for a simple tap in in injury time. As the final whistle blew moments later, the home side where booed off the pitch, the fans perhaps turning against Arsene Wenger's apparent unwillingness to spend and stregthen the squad. The mood was one of unoptomistic negativity as Arsenal headed in to the second leg of their Champions League qualifier.
UCL QR3; Udinese 1-2 Arsenal
Di Natale (39) Van Persie (55)
Arsenal secured their place in the group stages of the Champions League for the 14th successive year after an impressive 2-1 win in Udine gave them a 3-1 aggregate successs.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with both sides having a chance inside the opening minute. Arsenal were lucky not to find themselves behind early on, Antonio Di Natale having a goal ruled out for offside after 8 minutes. Arsenal played some of their best football for quite some time, with new boy Gervinho the catalyst of all things good. His dribbling skills created chances for both Walcott and Van Persie inside the opening 20 minutes but the superb Handanovic in the Udinese goal was more than equal to whatever was thrown at him. Gradually however, the home side took control, and it was rich reward when that man Di Natale, who had finished as Italian footballs golden boot winner the previous two seaons, broke the deadlock after 39 minutes with a fine looping header from Pinzi's inch perfect cross. The home fans were jubilant, the few away fans were silent, no doubt fearing the worst as I'm sure every fan watching at home also was. They needn't have worried. The Arsenal side that came out after half time was a completely different side to the on of the first half. Tomas Rosicky came on for Frimpong and ran the show, dominating the midfield in every sense. After knocking on the Udinese door for the first 10 minutes of the second half, it was finally unlocked on 55 minutes. Another jinking run from Gervinho, a perfectly placed cut back and an emphatic finish from Robin Van Persie pulled Arsenal level and even more importantly, gained a priceless away goal. Udinese didnt give up and only 3 minutes later, following a corner, a debatable penalty was awarded following an alleged handball from the immense Thomas Vermaelen. Di Natale stepped up and fired his penalty to his top left. However, Szczesny flug himself across and pulled off a magnificent save to deny the striker. The home side looked broken after that as Arsenal went on to dominate possesion and, on 69 minutes, Sagna played the ball over the top for Walcott to race through and fire home, securing Arsenals place in the Champions league