Fenerbahce 0 Arsenal 3: Qualification Sealed as Gunners Run Riot in Turkey
Sukru Saracoglu (Champions League)
Fenerbahce – 0
Arsenal – Gibbs 51′, Ramsey 64′, Giroud 71′
After a humiliating home defeat in the hands of Aston Villa, the Gunners arrived in Turkey with a big fish to fry as Champions League football beckoned for the winner of the two-legged affair. Tuesday night results proved that some teams certainly weren’t pushovers so Wenger responded well by fielding his strongest XI available, and the physios must be commended for making Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs fit for the game, despite their injury woes last weekend.
Early on, there was an injury scare when a Fenerbahce midfielder stepped on Jack Wilshere’s foot but Arsenal’s first meaningful attack came when Santi Cazorla sent Theo Walcott through on goal but Fenerbahce’s goalie, Volkan Demirel, read the game well to intercept the ball with a clearance, but the ball fell to Tomas Rosicky’s path that swung it into Olivier Giroud’s head. The Frenchman’s header was just wide of the mark.
The next noteworthy highlight in the first half occurred when Laurent Koscielny and Pierre Webo went for the ball but the striker’s foot slammed Kos on the face, causing the French defender to hit the deck. After Arsenal’s physios confirmed that he wasn’t fit enough to continue the game, Arsene Wenger summoned the services of Carl Jenkinson, forcing Sagna to play alongside Per Mertesacker in the heart of the defense.
Santi Cazorla did well to tee Wilshere up at the edge of the area but there was no Gunner that attacked the near post when Wilshere lofted the cross into the box. Right at the end of the first half, Wilshere teed up Giroud with a neat through ball but the forward blasting the ball over the bar after some pressure from a defender.
The home team was piss poor in the first half but they awoke a bit from their slumber at the start of the second half when Mehmet Topaz closed Ramsey down and laid a pass to Kuyt. The Dutch powerhouse killed a bird in the sky with his proposed effort on goal.
The breakthrough arrived when Ramsey dallied on the ball a bit before threaded an inch-perfect through balk for Walcott in behind the Fenerbahce defense. The wonger opened his eye to see Gibbs on the far post, drilled a cross to the left back and the rest they say, was history. Gibbs showed good technique to blast the ball into the roof with a first time shot.
Wilshere made one of his trademark darting run into the box but he was robbed by Walcott in the danger area. The striker’s tame effort on goal was a bit poor as Volkan Demirel was on hand to make a save. At the other end, Webo flicked the ball towards Sow but Szczesny showed good bravery to go for the ball and he got a whack on his head for his troubles.
Arsenal’s second goal arrived when an unmarked Ramsey guided the ball to the edge of the box before blasting a low drive that was parried into the net by Volkan Demirel. For a keeper of his quality, that would go down as a blooper but Arsenal didn’t care.
The Turks pressed for an equalizer and won the ball after a casual back pass from Ramsey but they failed to capitalize on the chance as Raul Meireles’ shot was wide off the mark. Szczesny attempted to go and get the ball and was adjudged to be wasting time by the referee so he was brandished a yellow card.
Arsenal drove a nail in Fenerbahce’s coffin when Kadlec fouled Walcott in the box. Giroud stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way with a well-taken spot kick. That turned out to be his last contribution as he was withdrawn for Lukas Podolski. Shortly afterwards, Nacho Monreal made his long awaited return as he came in for Walcott in the closing stages.
Right at the death, Fenerbahce tried to salvage a consolation goal with a powerful shot from Emmanuel Emenike but Szczesny had other ideas as he made a brilliant stop to seal his first clean sheet of the season. With the ref’s whistle blown, the Gunners celebrated an all-important victory that ensures another passage to the Champions League Group Stages, which could be a determining factor for any players they want to purchase before the transfer window closes.
In his post-match conference, Wenger spoke about the good performance and shared some information about the extent of Koscielny’s head injury, which is now a major concern. Arsenal desperately needs a center back as they are thin-bare at the back. And while the Gunners make those last minute trolley dashes in the transfer window, they shouldn’t forget to pick up a holding midfielder and a striker while they are at it.
As Walcott stated in an interview with some media vultures, it was crucial to start well and the Gunners put up a commanding performance away from home yet again. Let’s hope for the same this weekend.
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