FC Twente 0 Arsenal 2 (Gallas 63, Adebayor 82)
Champions League Qualifier
There is no satisfying some people. Last night we travelled to Holland shorn of a complete first choice midfield (Nasri-Diaby-Cesc-Rosicky) to to open our season with a vital but tricky tie away to a side that qualified by beating Ajax in a playoff a few months ago. The players were always going to be rusty so early in the campaign, and as Paul Merson was saying on Sky, an up for it Twente side were playing about as well as they possibly could. But despite all that, we came away with a 2-0 victory.
And yet people still complain. No, it wasn’t a vintage performance, but did you really expect that with such a young midfield? Three teenagers and Eboue isn’t exactly going to scare Europe, but they did okay. Almunia was good in goal, captain Gallas opened his ‘leading by example’ season with a vital goal from an excellent Van Persie delivery, and Adebayor took his chance when Walcott played an intelligent ball across to him.
Liverpool, meanwhile, were being outplayed by Standard Liege, a side so bad when we last played them that we travelled to Belgium back in 93/94 and came away with a 7-0 victory, with even Ian Selley and Eddie McGoldrick getting on the scoresheet. Last night, Liverpool only escaped thanks to a goal not being given that looked suspiciously over the line, and a penalty save from Reina (which admittedly wasn’t a penalty). Their much-feted 40m+ front pairing didn’t create a chance all night.
So imagine if their fans were as defeatist as some of ours? They’d be writing off their side before the season had even begun, when in reality they’ll probably triumph at Anfield and last night won’t matter.
And with a 2-0 lead from the away leg, we’re practically in the group stages too, and furthermore, we can rotate in the second leg, which is excellent news given how many players we have with slight niggles. That result, combined with no more injuries, made for a perfect night.
I’m not saying it was a champagne performance, and I’m not asking anyone to pretend it was. All I’m asking for is a little perspective.