Turkish Delight: Fenerbahce 0 – 3 Arsenal – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Fenerbahce 0 – 3 Arsenal

As pressure mounted on Arsene Wenger, Arsenal travelled to Istanbul to face Fenerbahce in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier. Emotions were running high in the Arsenal camp, and a battling Fenerbahce side were looking to cause even more upset. [quote_right]”Fenerbahce were  there for the taking during the whole of the first half, but Arsenal predictably let their chances slip away.”[/quote_right]

Thankfully, Fenerbahce started the game by displaying their own weaknesses. The Turks were tough in the tackles, but were being regularly rattled by Arsenal’s quick movement, driven mainly by Santi Cazorla.

Typically however, The Gunners failed on more than one occasion to make their attacking prowess pay off. Olivier Giroud was presented with a few half-chances, whilst Theo Walcott looked to be shying away from opportunities.

Laurent Koscielny had to be replaced after a nasty kick in the face, leaving Arsenal’s defence even more vulnerable than usual. Despite Arsenal’s casualty, Fenerbahce just didn’t seem capable of mounting any serious attacks.

Fenerbahce were there for the taking during the whole of the first half, but Arsenal predictably let their chances slip away.

Thankfully, the second half was a much different story. Arsenal maintained their confident offensive play, and finally found it within themselves to finish their chances.

In the fifty-first minute, a lively Aaron Ramsey danced around the Fenerbahce box before delicately playing a ball through to Theo Walcott. The Englishman saw the run of Gibbs on the far post and crossed well, allowing Gibbs to finish the move into an open net.

Arsenal’s first goal helped their confidence, especially in the final third. Less than fifteen minutes after their opener, Aaron Ramsey decided to once again take the game by the scruff of the neck.[quote_left]”Less than fifteen minutes after their opener, Aaron Ramsey decided to once again take the game by the scruff of the neck…”[/quote_left]

Ramsey picked the ball up in midfield, and drove towards the Fenerbahce box. Space eventually opened up, allowing the Welshman to smash a powerful shot past the weak hand of Volkan in goal.

The Gunners were now cruising, enjoying their lead, and passing the ball around well all over the pitch.

In the seventy-seveth minute, Arsenal’s night was perfected. Theo Walcott made a dangerous surge into the box, and was brought down by Kadlec. The resulting penalty was calmly taken by Olivier Giroud, who sent Volkan the wrong way. Arsenal’s Champions League place was looking very, very secure.

The remainder of the game was played out without any major events. Szczesney was forced into one or two good saves, but nothing the big Pole couldn’t handle.

As the final whistle blew, Arsenal fans everywhere breathed a sigh of b relief. Winning in Istanbul is not an easy task for any side, but despite their diminished squad, The Gunners had pulled through.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Szczesny: [7/10]
Looked assured all night, and made some impressive saves towards the end of the game in order to secure a clean sheet. Much better than his performance against Villa.

Sagna: [7.5/10]
Bacary yet again proved his worth, offering stability at right-back, before dong a fine job at centre-back after Koscielny’s injury. LEts hope this run of good form continues.

Mertesacker: [6.5/10]
Per looked slightly out of position a few times during the first half, but did a good enough job in the end, helping to keep things calm at the back in the dying moments. Needs to go easy on the two-footed slides.

Koscielny: [6.5/10]
Looked comfortable, but Laurent didn’t get to play for very long before he received a very nasty kick to the face, which Colin Lewin said resulted in the worst cut he’s ever seen. He’s banned for Fulham anyway, and should hopefully be fine thereafter.

Gibbs: [7.5/10]
Arsenal needed Gibbs to make himself available in the final third today, and that’s exactly what he did. Kieran took his goal well, and made multiple runs forward to help out attacks. Looked solid defensively also.

Ramsey: [8.5/10]
MOTM. Aaron absolutely aced it. He did brilliantly to play Walcott in for Gibbs’ goal, and showed great confidence to get himself on the score sheet. He also made a number of great tackles in the midfield. More of the same please Aaron.

Wilshere: [7.5/10]
Jack looked back to his lively self, darting past players with ease all over the pitch, and making himself constantly available for team mates. He got caught in possession once or twice, but his form clearly isn’t at its highest.

Rosicky: [7.5/10]
An excellent performance. Tomas kept the ball moving for Arsenal, and was a the heart of many of their first half attacks. The Czech always wanted the ball, and always looked to make something happen when he had it.

Cazorla: [7.5/10]
Santi entertained the crowd with some superb close control and silky skills to bring the ball forward for Arsenal. The Spaniard linked up well with the midfield, but needs to drive into the box more often.

Walcott: [6.5/10]
I know it doesn’t sound right, but despite grabbing an assist and winning a penalty, Theo played really poorly. His first half performance was lacklustre, as he gave up on decent passes, and failed to make obvious runs forward. He improved in the second half, but only slightly.

Giroud: [7.5/10]
Olivier did very well to battle with the Fenerbahce defenders, and showed some excellent touches to bring other players into the game. Took his penalty very well.

Subs:

Jenkinson: [6.5/10]
Carl looked comfortable enough, and got forward on many occasions. Panicked slightly when under pressure in his own half.

Monreal: [6.5/10]
Came on in a midfield role, and seemed to be doing a good job of it. Didn’t create anything, but he provided some defensive stability in the final minutes.

Podolski: [5.5/10]
Lukas looked completely uninterested. He threw away a good opportunity to score, showed poor first touches, and looked lazy off the ball.

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[title]Turkish Delight[/title]

Well, that was most definitely a relief.

Winning in Turkey against Fenerbahce is not an easy task, but Arsenal really put their foot down in the second half, making sure that Fenerbahce’s London visit is almost hopeless for them.

Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey in particular were the main men, helping to drive Arsenal forward at every opportunity. Koscielny’s injury looked bad, but he’s banned for Fulham, which means he’ll probably make his return for the following week. However, Arsenal lack of depth was exposed again today, as Bacary Sagna had to slip into the centre-back role. I hope that is the last time that has to happen.

What do you think of the Fenerbahce vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below!

Image: Arsenal

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