Fenerbahce (0) – (3) Arsenal
Gibbs 51′, Ramsey 64′, Giroud 77′ (Pen)
Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, Istanbul
Champions League Qualifier
Last night was an excellent performance from every player, and one that was a million miles away from the shambles on Saturday. Our inter-play was excellent and it was a joy to watch Cazorla, Rosicky, Wilshere and Ramsey passing the ball like they did. Sure, people will say that Fenerbahce didn’t offer much (which they didn’t) but that was partly because of how well Arsenal played.
We pressed high up the pitch, were well organised and didn’t give any of their players much time on the ball. And when it mattered, we put the ball into the net.
It was 0-0 at half time but we had been the better team. Once the second half kicked off we increased the tempo and Fenerbahce couldn’t handle us. The first goal was really well executed, with a beautiful through ball by Ramsey to Theo, who had the presence to pick out Kieran Gibbs at the far post.
1-0 and that was the vital away goal we needed.
We kept pressing and Aaron Ramsey, who was my Man of the Match, had all the time in the world and fired in a low rasping shot into the bottom corner which Volkan found too hot to handle.
Then, Theo was beautifully picked out by Santi Cazorla and was brought down in the area. When I saw it I had my hands in the air as it was a penalty but it is one of those you might not get in an away game, but fortunately the referee gave the right decision. I wasn’t 100% confident when I saw Olivier Giroud step up but he finished with aplomb.
So 3-0 away from home at Fenerbahce and for me that was an outstanding result. Not only because it was unexpected after the debacle against Aston Villa but because that effectively (barring any freak 90 minutes at The Emirates) means we should be safely through and in the Champions League proper. Of course, we can’t count our chickens just yet but the hardest part of the task is done and we couldn’t of asked for any more.
Fenerbahce did have a couple of chances to score, the first from left back Kadlec which Szczesny saved well, and the second from Emenike from a narrow angle. Gibbs, Mertesacker and Sagna (when he had to move into central defence) were all solid, and Carl Jenkinson was excellent. I don’t understand the people who say he needs more time because I think he’s ready and don’t forget he was fantastic at the start of last season when Sagna was out injured. He’s intelligent, gets well up the pitch and his crossing is top drawer. I don’t have a problem using Sagna in the middle if that means Jenkinson gets to play.
So in the end, a fantastic result which should mean we’ll be playing in Europe’s elite club competition this season.
1. Wojciech Szczesny – 7/10
Wasn’t called upon a huge amount of times but when needed pulled off some very good saves. Was brave in the challenge against Sow and unlike Saturday, was solid.
3. Bacary Sagna – 7/10
Was up and down the right hand side as usual and coped well considering Theo isn’t the greatest at tracking back. Once he moved into central defence after Koscielny went off injured, he was solid and did well alongside Mertesacker.
4. Per Mertesacker – 7/10
The captain had a better day at the office and kept Webo and Sow quiet for the majority of the game. Made some good interceptions and won most of the headers inside and outside the box. Wasn’t troubled at all.
6. Laurent Koscielny – 6/10
Went off after 33 minutes after a nasty looking injury to his face. He darted in front of Webo to win the ball and got one hell of a kick to the head. Looked painful at the time and he is not having the best of luck at the moment.
28. Kieran Gibbs – 8/10
Up and down the flank all night and linked up well with Jack, Ramsey, Cazorla and Rosicky. Made some good runs and got himself into some decent positions on the left wing, and deserved his goal.
16. Aaron Ramsey – 9/10
For me, the Man of the Match. He was so confident on the ball, waltzed past players with ease and his passing was first class. Beautiful ball to Theo to assist the Kieran Gibbs goal and deserved his bit of luck for Arsenal’s second. If he keeps this up he could be a massive player for Arsenal this season and looks to have really kicked on from last season.
10. Jack Wilshere – 7/10
Got himself about and made some important interceptions and linked up well with the other 3 midfielders. Made some good runs and passing was excellent. Had a nice dribble around Bruno Alves but the angle for the shot was against him and was saved.
7. Tomas Rosicky – 7/10
Set the tone for the team with his endless running and pressing. Looked lively from the first whistle and was comfortable on the ball, making some incisive passes.
19. Santi Cazorla – 8/10
Looked like his old self, and along with Ramsey, Wilshere and Rosicky controlled the midfield. Some of the passes he made were really exceptional and he showed how good he is on his day. Beautiful control and touches on the ball, often using his skill to get out of sticky situations.
14. Theo Walcott – 7/10
His overall performance was hit and miss but Theo is an impact player and he did exactly that. Good run and cut back for Gibbs for the first goal and did really well to win the penalty for the third. His touches could have been better but basically making two of the goals is a decent nights work.
12. Olivier Giroud – 6/10
Did okay but didn’t have much luck against Yobo and Alves. Took his penalty very well but his passing was suspect and did have a great chance just before half time when he was put through by Wilshere. We all know he’s not the most clinical finisher but thats 2 goals in 2 games now.
25. Carl Jenkinson – 8/10 (replaced Koscielny 33′)
Once again a very assured performance from Jenkinson. I rate him very highly indeed and again he didn’t disappoint. Has a great turn of pace to beat a fullback and did that on several occasions. He put in some excellent crosses which really should have been taken advantage of if some of the Arsenal players gambled in the middle.
9. Lukas Podolski – NLE (replaced Giroud 82′)
Not long enough to make an impact.
17. Nacho Monreal – NLE (replaced Walcott 87′)
Not long enough to make an impact.