Fenerbahce 2-5 Arsenal
That was fun.
Given that riotous display of attacking football, I think now’s not the time to ask why marvellous Manuel ‘Munia needed to make about three one-on-one saves to deny the Turks a goal, or to question the defensive abilities of Silvestre and Song Billong. All I will say is that it’s the first time they’ve played together.
Better I think to concentrate on some fabulous attacking play, five individual Arsenal scorers (six if you include Silvestre – but as I said we’re skirting over the minuses), some great individual performances and cameo substitutions, and a dismantling of a team that hadn’t lost at home in Europe for some considerable time. We’re a mere win from the knockout stages – wonderful stuff.
Walcott’s been taking plenty of plaudits recently, and he was good again last night, but the evening’s outstanding outfield performance was that of Abou Diaby, playing in a Bergkamp-esque attacking midfield role. He was just fantastic – nimble and rangy (always rangy), quick-footed and powerful, he reminded us of the player we have been missing. I didn’t expect him in such an advanced role but he pulled it off and I absolutely demand he starts now, assuming of course he remains fit. He adds strength and height to the side precisely where it is needed.
Almunia was fantastic too, he really was – he made a handful of exceptionally good saves and it’s testament to him that his detractors (yes, I have been one) have not once mentioned him as a weak link this season.
Elsewhere, Fabregas played a cool game and Ramsey, coming on for Diaby, will have made people sit up and watch with his excellent 15 minutes. He scored a great goal, he kept things simple but was always looking for different options; in short, what a prospect he is.
“We came here and had a go. We started strong, we remained quite strong and we finished strong.”
I think he was keen to emphasise our strength.