Arsenal 4 (Nasri 27, Gallas 52, Walcott 66, Bendtner 89) FC Twente 0 (Agg 6-0)
Champions League Qualifier
On a night where Liverpool showed how difficult Champions League qualifiers can be, FC Twente were casually dismissed in a game that should see the sometimes fragile confidence of the players rise again following Saturday’s debacle.
No one is likely to benefit as much as Theo Walcott who, in my opinion, was superb, tearing their frankly hopeless left back to pieces in the first half. He could have had a hattrick of assists and fully deserved his goal. Yet many were still quick to criticise, Alan Hansen talking about his lack of composure (before his beautifully taken goal), and many blog commenters still insisting he’d had a poor game. I guess you can’t please everyone.
In truth, Twente were rubbish, but you can only beat what’s in front of you, and some of the goals were delightful. Nasri sold three defenders a dummy to open the scoring, meaning he’s already 20% to Hleb’s three year total of goals. Nice.
Van Persie was guilty of one of the worst misses you’ll see all season after having a chance served on a plate by Walcott, but you could argue that if he was to miss one of those, this was a good match for it.
In the second half, Gallas charged upfield and was rewarded when Bendtner’s shot was saved and he tucked in the rebound, before Walcott ran on to a ricochet to fire confidently into the corner. Denilson’s backheel into Bendtner’s path for number four was the icing on the cake.
It was a professional performance, but some had better days than others. Walcott was excellent, Nasri too for the first half before he was taken off with a stomach bug. Denilson was up and down, while Bendtner had one of those days when everything he touched went wrong. You could see the relief on his face when he slotted home number four – he knew he’d had a bad day.
Of course, Bendtner has been roundly defended, as he is a much better player than he showed last night. But imagine if Adebayor had been as clumsy, showing such a poor first touch and being generally off the pace? He’d have been crucified in some of the more sensationalist blogs this morning.
All in all, it was a good workout. Bendtner and Van Persie will improve, while Cesc had a good seventy minute workout, which was exactly what he needed. And above all, we’re in the Champions League, and at a canter.
Bring it on.