Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal – Match Report
Another great second half display in Spain has left Arsenal in a strong position to progress to the next stage of the Champions League.
Arsenal were on the back foot in the first half and fell behind when Matters started badly as Senna put Villarreal ahead early in the game after Song failed to close him down. Arsenal were being given the run-around in the first half. Adebayor was a lonely figure with Walcott, Fabregas and Nasri unable to link up with our striker.
Things got worse for Arsenal as Almunia had to be replaced by Fabianski. The young Pole was called into action soon after and prevented Arsenal from falling further behind. He dived to save a shot by Senna and recovered to save the follow-up shot as Sagan was too slow to react.
Villarreal could sense victory and started to press Arsenal further and further back. Rossi ran straight for the penalty area, he was fouled by Song but then collapsed on Gallas, an incident that resulted in the French defender being replace by Djourou.
Arsenal were awarded a free kick just before half-time. It was not clear if Fabregas asked if he could take the free-kick quickly or not, but the Spaniard did and put the ball in the back of the net; the referee booked him and left Fabregas walking a tightrope in the second half.
Fabregas in fact was lucky not to be sent-off early in the second half when he fouled Capdevilla.
As with the game against Roma, Arsenal second half performance was completely different. Arsenal started to stretch Villarreal, Nasri and Walcott were running at the defence. The passes were accurate and Villarreal were struggling. Nasri nearly weaved his way through and Adebayor steered a header wide.
On the 66th minute our fortunes changed Fabregas chipped a ball through to Adebayor who with his back to goal controlled the ball on his chest and started to lower his body and scored a sublime overhead goal.
Arsenal were now in the ascendency. A Nasri shot came close, whilst Walcott fired over the bar from an acute angle. Arsenal had Villarreal pinned in their half for most of the second half, but injuries had deprived Wenger of Wenger, Eduardo and Diaby, his options from the bench were too little to allow him to force the winner.
The game ended a draw and Arsenal must be confident of progressing to the semi-final in the second leg next week at the Emirates.