Arsenal 2 (Diaby 8, Bendtner 42) Steaua Bucharest 1 (Zaharia 69)
(Champions League Group H, Matchday 6) Final Group Position:2nd, 13 points
The Champions League group stages came to an end last night with a routine victory over a poor Steaua side, but the win mattered little as Sevilla’s comfortable triumph in Prague meant that they qualified as group winners.
I wasn’t able to see the whole match last night, so can’t comment in detail, but from what I’ve seen, Van Persie made an impressive comeback, appearing sharp enough to be involved against Chelsea on Sunday, although I suspect he’ll come off the bench.
Diaby and Walcott impressed on the flanks, although the former’s final ball and the latter’s finishing still need work. There’s plenty of time to improve that.
Elsewhere, Bendtner took his goal very well, and looks to be growing as a player. Confidence has never been a problem for him, and he is getting to the stage that if he got thrown in at the deep end, it would probably have a better effect than the laughable duo we had up front at the end of last season. He would retain the side’s sharpness.
That said, Van Persie has been sorely missed, so his return is extremely welcome ahead of a busy Christmas period. I wouldn’t imagine he’d play in the Carling Cup, but with matches against Chelsea and Spurs coming up before Christmas, he comes back at an important time.
The media continue to talk about potential new signings, and this time it is the turn of Bulgarian left winger Nikolay Dimitrov, a 20 year old playing for Levski Sofia.
This story appears to have more substance to it than most, being carried with the quotes of Levski’s executive director, Nasko Sirakov:
“We have known about Arsenal interest from about two weeks ago. The only thing now left is for Nikolay to travel to London.”
While Levski coach Stanimir Stoilov added:
“I am very happy for him. He is young and very talented. The invitation from Wenger is quite a tribute, not only for the player but for the club also”
The youngster appears to be heading to the Emirates for a trial, and following in the footsteps of Tresor Mputu, Wenger appears to be trying a few options out.
Watch this space.