Finally a win! The goal scoring woes remain but we have a crucial lead now going into the second match and considering our record in Italy, we should be through to the quarters soon! The only goal came from a penalty despite the fact that Arsenal dominated big time and had quite a lot of chances to score.
It all started well for Arsenal. Inside the first 10 minutes, Nasri’s run on the left flank was picked by Sagna and the Frenchman sent a brilliant cross in only for Bendtner to start his match like he will eventually end it, with a miss! The Dane’s first touch was too heavy and the chance went begging even though a better first touch could easily have led to a goal. Then a rare accurate cross in by Clichy was faintly headed just wide by Nasri. Roma did not stay back though. They came here looking for a win and they went for it. Motta had a stunning top corner bound effort brilliantly saved by Almunia’s fingertips. But that shot did not shift the balance of the game as Arsenal continued to dominate. Soon van Persie was tripped inside the box by Mexes for minimal contact but contact was there so the penalty was I think rightfully given. The Dutchman made absolutely no mistake from the spot. Slotted it into the bottom right corner with Doni diving the other way. It was a perfect penalty and Arsenal got a deserving lead. Minutes later Bendtner wasted another goal scoring opportunity. It was a great first half for Arsenal. Diaby played superbly and one could see how well the Denilson-Diaby partnership worked, much better than Denilson-Song. Nasri was looking awesome in his favourite postion, playing just off the striker. Even Eboue was playing well.
The second half continued with more of the same. van Persie’s shot was saved and it dropped at Bendtner’s feet who shot high over the bar. Yet another bad miss from the Dane. Then Diaby had a shot on goal saved by Doni. Eboue then was gifted a chance by Roma thanks to a misplaced pass but the winger was reluctant to take the shot early and when he eventually had a go, it went wide. A bad miss. In the last 10 minutes or so Roma attacked a lot but could not hand a sucker punch and eventually it ended 1-0 though it could easily have been 2 or 3.
It was a complete performance if only there had been a couple more goals. The defence looked strong and so did Almunia. Its quite an achievement to have kept 5 consecutive clean sheets now with 7 in the last 10 games. Denilson and Diaby were superb. Denilson was everywhere. Winning 6 tackles, and completing 73 passes with a success rate of 85%. And he covered 13km all match, which is more than Flamini did last season in the historic win in Milan. His work rate deserves a lot of praise. Diaby got away from defenders at will and unlike Song, was very eager to pass the ball forward rather than sideways. Eboue had a great game. He may have missed a good chance but overall he was really good. Made good runs, got away from defenders, passed the ball around well and he was involved in nearly all of our attacks. He just had one bad miss and people are mad at him. Just look at his performance for the whole match and one can see he had a great game. Nasri and van Persie were great as usual. The only negative performance was Bendtner’s. Arsenal need to have more composure in front of the goal. Hope Dudu returns soon and when Ade comes back, he is much better than he has been this season. We need finishers like them not Bendtner. Oh and Diaby’s injury is another set back. Lets hope it doesn’t keep him out for long. He really needs to improve this, he gets injured way too often. And Ramsey when he came on looked much better than Song. Diaby is injured and if he doesn’t return till Saturday then I would say play the same formation with Diaby replaced by Ramsey, not Song. Denilson and Song are both very defensive and Denilson is better. Two defensive central midfielders hardly makes any sense.
Lets hope Arsenal don’t have to regret the missed chances. Wenger fears it and he was quite unhappy at the number of misses. But get one goal in Rome and we should be through because I don’t see them putting three past us!