Tuesday, August 27, 2013

CL: Arsenal 2 - Fenerbahce 0 (Agg. 5-0)

Arsenal progressed for the sixteenth straight season to the group stage of the Champion's League, finishing off Fenerbahce in the return leg of their play-in tie. Two goals by the increasingly excellent Aaron Ramsey completed the job. But worries about Arsenal's depth remain.

Lukas Podolski pulled a hamstring early in the second half and had to be substituted. And after Arsenal went up 2-0 in the middle of that half, the Fener players seemed more interested in kicking Arsenal players than kicking the ball. They were fortunate to have a full complement of 11 players still on the field at the end of the match. Jack Wilshire and Ramsey took the brunt of the abuse. Wilshire limped through the last 10 minutes of the match, and Ramsey finished the game on the bench (leaving Arsenal with just 10 on the pitch).

Having gone off on the stretcher, Podolski seems unlikely to make the big derby match against Tottenham this weekend. Hopefully, Ramsey and Wilshire suffered nothing worse than some bad bruises; Arsenal will need both of them.

The strategy of having Cazorla drop deeper into the midfield seems to be working wonders for Arsenal. He has been able to find more space and use his vision and passing ability to open up defenses.

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