Arsenal 1-0 Roma
Last night saw Arsenal back to their best, all was missing were the goals. Arsenal can only play football one-way ands that was attack, attack, attack. From kick-off, Arsenal poured forward looking for the break through.
Wenger made a subtle change ten minutes into the game, he moved Nasri to play behind van Persie and Bendtner was moved out to play on the left wing. This gave Nasri licence to roam, create, and drive at the heart of the Roma defence. Unfortunately, moving Bendtner to the wing meant that we were playing with ten men. He was completely ineffectual. He offered little going forward and he did not help Clichy who was being overrun at the back.
Bendtner had Arsenal’s best chance when van Persie cut the ball back from the bye-line, all he had to do was hit it first time, but his touch was terrible and the chance had gone. Just before half time he made amends for his early miss by putting van Persie through, Mexes had other ideas and tripped him up. The referee was not fooled and pointed to the spot. Van Persie got up, and despite some shenanigans from Roma, he buried the penalty to give Arsenal the lead.
The second started like a farce. Nine Arsenal players took the field and the referee insisted we kick-off. Where were Gallas and Toure, had they had an argument? Had Toure stormed off at half time like the one Campbell did a few years ago? Well there was nothing sinister, Gallas was still receiving treatment, and Toure insists on coming out last. We started the half with nine men and it was a couple of minutes before the duo emerged, with Toure running straight onto the pitch and getting booked for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission.
The second half saw Arsenal get a strangle hold on the game; Roma could not put any passes together, whilst Diaby was winning everything in midfield. Denilson was growing in confidence playing alongside the big Frenchman. A second goal was surely on its way. What we had not taken into consideration was that the best chances would fall to Bendtner and Eboue.
Just as happened on Saturday, the ball was played across the area, it fell to Bendtner, who with the goal at his mercy, managed to scoop his shot over the crossbar. Minutes later, Eboue found himself with the goalkeeper to beat, instead of hitting the ball first time, he tried to manoeuvre a better angle, by which time the defenders had tracked back, and Eboue proceeded to hit the ball wide.
Roma, who looked very shaky at the back and lacked creativity going forward, never troubled Arsenal. Gallas and Toure never troubled at the back, whilst Diaby looked the player we all know he could become, if only he can stay free of injuries.
The return leg will be an interesting affair. Roma have to attack and score, whilst Wenger will play 4-5-1, if Adebayor is back from injury he will play up front on his own whilst van Persie will play on the left. What we desperately need is for Diaby to be available.