Thursday, August 25, 2011

Match Report: Udinese 1-2 Arsenal - Gunners Qualify 3-1 On Aggregate

Arsene Wenger and his lads have done it again by delivering the goods away at Udinese. The Gunners travelled to the Stadio Friuli with a slender one goal advantage from the first leg to protect.

However, things almost didn't work as planned -the North London outfit was almost dumped out of the qualification for Europe's elite competition as Udinese spilled first blood six minutes to the end of the first half. The host's veteran striker Antonio Di Natale showed great composure and awareness in the penalty area through out yesterday's encounter, and his efforts were rewarded in the first half, but his penalty in the second half after Vermaelen had being penalised by the referee brought out the very best in young Wojciech, who dived expertly to deny the Italian goal-machine a second strike that could have potentially handed Guidolin's men a valuable life line with the score at 1-1, before Theo Walcott scored to effectively end the contest.

The young polish goal keeper and Thomas Vermaelen gave the likes of Fabianski and Sebastien Squillaci food for thought. I believe the Arsenal number one's impressive display has sent the right shivers down the spine of fellow contender Fabianski and countryman, who earlier on reiterated his desire to run things as usual before the discovery of our golden boy. Johan Djourou in particular, was poor on the night but the combined performances of Carl Jenkinson, Bacary Sagna and Vermaelen helped the Gunners keep the score line at the barest minimum.

The likes of Walcott and RVP were guilty of several point blank misses in the first half with Samir Handanovic looking almost invincible between the Udinese sticks, but that quickly changed in the second half as Arsenal new boy Yao Gervinho weaved his way past the oppositon's defence to set Van Persie up for the vital equaliser that ensured our qualification to the group stage of the Champions League was certain.

With due respect to the Arsenal, I think our Italian foe played well and even though they may not have lived up to the lofty expectations of its disappointed supporters, they can at least take solace in the fact that they have without doubt shown their flair for attacking football to the entire world, and I sincerely hope Wenger has learnt one or two things from the game with regards to team selection.

First rounds are on me mates, finishing fourth in the Premier League aint so bad if you can guarantee victories against Italian opposition home or away the Arsenal way. Just kidding!