Slender win but a sparkling performance

Arsenal 1-0 Roma

It must be said, I can’t work this Arsenal side out. Who can? From the limp weekend draw to a vibrant, incisive performance last night: it’s all too confusing.

Naturally, I welcome it. At times, Arsenal last night cut through Roma at will. The only surprise was that we contrived to miss several absolute sitters, which makes the return leg squeakybumtastic. How Bendtner and Frank Spencer* missed their open goals, only they will know. Two goals or more would have been rather nice.

But it wasn’t to be. Never mind, because if we play like that in the second leg then we have a very good chance of making the quarter-finals. And by then, we may have a few more options too, drawn from our legion of injured players.

Hard to fault anything except the finishing last night. Wenger, it seems, tweaked things to make us better going forward. Over to him:

“I wanted him [van Persie] to play because we’ve had problems scoring goals. I wanted to play him closer to the goal and put Samir Nasri central to give him a more creative role in our build-up. I believe it worked quite well and we always looked like we could be dangerous going forward.”

Nasri certainly had a good game, as indeed did Abou Diaby, before he went off with his regulation injury. Diaby, for all his intermittently hopeless passing, does give us a lot more options going forward than Denilson and Song, and I do hope it’s not yet another 3-weeks-out injury. He’s infuriatingly fragile but he does add a lot when he plays like he played last night.

As I Twittered last night, Pleat in his commentary put the difference between the departed Diaby and the incoming Song rather succinctly: “Song plays a lot of square stuff where Diaby looks for the pass forward”.

It’s all well and good to have central midfielders who mop up rather than race forwards, but not two. Having Diaby available, with Nasri more central, certainly added something exciting to the mix.

Anyway, I ramble. An excellent result, and something to line us up nicely for the weekend’s nil-nil draw with Fulham.

* For those neither British nor of a certain age, Frank Spencer was a 1970s TV character – a “well-meaning, ineffectual and utterly accident-prone mummy’s boy”. Watching Eboue trying so hard (and doing some good things), only for him to bumble to an unhappy conclusion, reminded me of Frank Spencer.

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