That most rare of occurrences came about last night – a comfortable Arsenal victory. From the moment Walcott’s superb cut back was buried by Tomas Rosicky, the tie was over, and everyone could relax.
And relax they did.
Arriving at the Emirates with a two goal lead from the home leg, there was a element of caution after last season’s scare, where Zagreb came and took the lead (through Eduardo) before being overrun. So it was with intent that Arsenal started, Walcott especially busy on the right flank, supplying Sparta Prague old boy Tomas Rosicky with a superbly slid cross for the Czech to power home in the seventh minute
From there the tempo dropped – Prague seemed to lose all ambition and stopped playing to all intents and purposes, with even the niggly challenges from two weeks ago notably absent. The match turned into a practice session, and the next hour went past without much incident, the best chance falling to the away side as Clichy allowed his man to get the wrong side of him following a superb through ball. Almunia raced off his line and forced a rushed chip wide.
Wenger looked frustrated with the lack of drive in the second half, sending on Cesc, Adebayor and Denilson late on, and all three made an impression before the match was over. Eduardo’s sudden burst of pace took him beyond his marker, and his cut back was gleefully thumped home by Fabregas, before Denilson’s cute cross saw the Croatian cleverly steer the ball in for the third as time drew to a close.
The 5-0 aggregate scoreline should not be underestimated, as this side are the Czech champions, ahead of their city rivals Slavia, who knocked out Ajax last night in an impressive display.
Performance-wise, the defence was a little sloppy at times, partly caused by the relaxed nature of the game, but Senderos still seems short of confidence, while in midfield, Walcott’s intentions were excellent but other than his assist his final ball is still lacking. That’ll come in time. Eduardo was lively and Van Persie showed nice touches and some superb dead ball deliveries. That could be a serious weapon this season.
I have to disagree with Myles Palmer, who is already claiming that no pair of Arsenal strikers can play together, citing last night’s pairing of RVP and Eduardo as evidence.
No, they didn’t click last night, but given that Van Persie is only recently back from six months out, and is now playing a more important role that before, and given that Eduardo has only just arrived at the club, did you really expect an effective partnership to be formed yet?
I, along with many, prefer to have a little more patience – both players individually showed good signs but they have completely different styles and it is only natural to expect them to take a while to play in sync with each other.
Such patience is also due to Abou Diaby, who showed flashes of brilliance intermingled with some truly appalling passing last night, and didn’t look particularly match sharp. But again, this is to be expected.
The draw for the Champions League proper is made later today, but in the meantime I advise you check out some slightly concerning David Dein news, courtesy of Arseblog.