Arsenal have put themselves into something of a safety zone with a two goal victory away in Holland in this all important Champions League Qualifier. Both are obviously away goals, leaving Steve McClaren with a mountain to climb on the return leg at Ashburton Grove in two weeks time.
Again, riddled with injuries, Wenger sent out a young team, much as he has done all pre-season, and the lads did not let him down. Arsenal began with: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Clichy, Eboue, Denilson, Ramsey, Walcott, Adebayor, Van Persie. This was to prove to be the first competitive appearance for summer signing Aaron Ramsey, who is still just 16 years of age.
Twente sprinted out of the blocks, and could or should have been well placed to take the tie, but squandered chances and rocky defensiveness kept them at bay for long periods. Indeed, if we were to be honest, Arsenal were on the ropes for much of the first half. And a lot of the problems were the making of Arsenal themselves, giving the ball away cheaply, and often in crucial positions, something that could do with being addressed before the opener in The Premiership on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion, which naturally we will be covering at GoonersWorld.
The second half was to prove far more fruitful for The Gunners, who started far brighter than in the first half. This isn’t to say that Twente didn’t have chances, because they most certainly did, although not as threatening as the previous 45 minutes. Eboue had a clear chance, but did appear to be fouled, however the referee seemed unimpressed. However, minutes later, Eboue was again fouled and the better placed referee awarded a free kick. Robin Van Persie duly stepped up, and delivered the ball, which somehow found it’s way to the onrushing William Gallas who got a knee to the ball, turning it home, and giving Arsenal a priceless lead. The goal knocked the stuffing out of Twente, although they remained committed to the end. Arsenal remained solid, and were further rewarded when great work from Theo Walcott resulted in a goal for Emmanuel Adebayor with only a few minutes remaining, which in theory, should put the tie beyond The Dutch, especially given the players returning to the first team before the return leg.
Half time in this qualifier, Arsenal have the upper hand, and importantly, two away goals.