Arsenal delivered a resounding response to Saturday’s debacle with a 3-0 win at Fenerbahce which did a lot to help their chances of participating in the Champions League group stage yet again.
Second-half goals from Kierran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud are what maintained the Gunners’ incredible 100% record in the qualify phase of this competition.
In truth though, tonight was never about nursing that particular record. Any decent result and an away goal would do. But the Gunners did way more than that.
Like a side with a point to prove, Wenger’s men wasted no time in having a go at this one as soon as the first whistle rung in their ears.
Rosicky, Ramsey, Wilshere and Cazorla saw much of the ball in midfield as Arsenal took the game to home side. Suddenly, the urgency that Arsene had call for was present, but what was missing was any clear sight at goal. A familiar story.
But with Fenerbahce offering little themselves at the other end, Arsenal were never in danger of a sucker-punch on the back of their dominance. Indeed, the only danger they endured was witnessing Laurent Koscielny hauled off the pitch after a dirty kick in the face by Wome.
Fenerbahce’s striker was punished with a mere booking in an incident more malicious than the one which saw Nani sent off against Real Madrid in last season’s showdown at Old Trafford.
With Koscielny pulled off for Jenkinson, Sagna shifted to centre-back to team up with Mertesacker. The Gunners had reshuffled their shape but they would continue to impose themselves at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.
Giroud and Walcott could not find their feet for a killer shot in some chances at goal and it was goalless at the break. But Fenerbahce had no where to hide after the restart as Arsenal found their opening goal six minutes into the second-half. Walcott had room on the right of the penalty area but from a tight angle, he could barely find the net. So the forward timed a perfect pass across the goal for an arriving Gibbs who tapped the ball home.
Walcott nearly put himself on the score-sheet just moments later as his close-range attempt to chip the ball home was saved by the goalkeeper. Arsenal did get that second goal they deserved in the 64th minute. Space opened up for Aaron Ramsey just outside the box and a typical Arsenal midfielder would have picked out a through pass, but Ramsey went for glory and it paid off as his low shot was too hot to handle for Demirel.
From there on, you sensed all the smiles would be heading back to London and Walcott’s attempt to cause more havoc at the back for Fenerbahce saw him brought down for an Arsenal penalty kick.
Olvier Giroud stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to make it 3-0 before making way for Lukas Podolski as the visitors looked to finish off the job. Even so, they would have easily failed to keep a clean sheet had it not been for some sublime saves from Szczesny in the dying minutes as Fenerbahce’s substitute striker Emenike posed a threat,
It had to go the right way tonight and it did.