Tussle In Turkey
I am currently up in the Arctic on research, but through the technological wonders of satellites I was able to catch the game today. Even before kickoff I had a feeling we were going to be in for a tough night. It’s something about those evening ‘eastern’ European away games that always give me a negative feeling; maybe it is their TV feeds that just give the picture that gritty look. That said, even a Universal Studios level feed couldn’t have made that pitch look pretty. Still play the team and the field in front of you, and you have to think that we would have had enough talent to get us through.
Let’s be clear, I am not saying this is a disaster by any means. Especially since we were able to hold on and even create some chances with 10. Ramsey’s red card is unfortunate, but we have enough depth in midfield to cover and it means that he can get a full run out in the Everton game without the boss having to think about saving him for the second leg.
So first let’s assess the negatives. Giroud still looks a little sluggish and not quite up to match fitness yet. He didn’t have terrible game, but on another day may have had a couple of goals. We saw the first chinks in the Chambers armor. He seems to struggle a little with the long balls, slipping on one and misjudging the flight of another. But again, take away those few errors and he had a pretty good game. In fact I found his ongoing battle with Ba one of the more enjoyable elements of the game. Also, considering that that was his first ever Champion’s League appearance he looked pretty dam good. The potential injury to Arteta could be telling as we move forward, all depending how bad it is. As Gooner.com so rightly pointed out in his last post, he is often our unsung hero and we do miss him when he is not there. Of course, I always like to see the Flame on the field, but we all know he can be a liability. I think it took him about two minutes to get carded after subbing on.
Time to be positive. As much as it would be nice to have a healthy lead forged on away goals, despite the potential for an upset, you have to feel that we will have too much for them in North London. Especially when that talent can express itself on a putting green relative to the rough we played on tonight. Szczęsny had a solid game minus the scare at kickoff (which in fairness he did have covered). He made a few good saves and controlled his area well. I was impressed by Nacho’s performance. I felt he went through a bit of a sketchy spell last season, so seeing Gibbo limp off against Palace had me concerned, but he looks to be back on good form. Wilshere looked good. I know he has been getting a lot of stick lately for underperforming, but I am always happy to see his name on the team sheet and feel he brings a lot to our game. Apart from that dodgy back pass to Koscielny which resulted in a free kick, he had a solid game.
Sanchez, looked like he is still trying a little too hard, but the potential is there for all to see and I think you can recognize the fear in the opposition defense when the ball is at his feet. He also looks like he is starting to click with Santi which can only mean we have some beautiful football ahead of us. Debuchy looked to have overcome his first game jitters and gave a solid performance, making some important tackles and providing a good outlet on the right. The Ox nearly stole the show when he came on with some great skill in the box and a well saved shot. He looked a lot more composed than in the season opener and I would fancy him to start in place of Ramsey in the return leg.
Let’s hope our inability to score in the first leg does not prove costly. With Man U not in this year we have the chance to equal an even overtake their record of consecutive appearances in the next few years. Yes we will remain one behind Real Madrid, but it is ALWAYS nice to have one over on Man U.