Arsenal 0 Fenerbahce 0
(Champions League Match 4)
A rare goalless draw shouldn’t create too many problems as far as qualifying for the next round of the Champions League goes, but a toothless and nervous second half performance is more of a concern ahead of a month of big matches, starting with United on Saturday.
The early stages were fine – Cesc played a superb pass over the defence for Van Persie to stab wide, before the Dutchman saw one goalbound shot brilliantly blocked by a defender and another tipped on the bar by Volkan. On another day, he would’ve had a hattrick, but unfortunately another day will have to wait for a while – his domestic suspension means a three week rest before a trip to Man City.
While it is perhaps fortunate that the set of missed chances was coming on a night where a draw barely mattered, the lack of invention in the second half was very unusual. There was some fantastic interplay up to the final third, but the final balls were really poor. Nasri and Bendtner particularly struggled, while most of the creative work was being done by Cesc (of course), as well as Clichy and Toure, who desperately tried to drive the team forward. Of the rare starters, Ramsey worked hard and did okay, while Fabianski had very little to do, just making one very poor decision in not coming for a through ball.
The match certainly had its sour points, and quite how Fenerbahce ended it with eleven men on the field I’ve no idea. Wenger might have been strong in his accusations of causing deliberate injuries over the past couple of days, but perhaps he was just being prophetic – Semih’s intentional elbow may well have broken Silvestre’s nose, the amount of blood pouring out afterwards certainly suggesting so. The replays are clear – Semih twice glanced over his shoulder to see where Silvestre was before swinging his arm back.
And he wasn’t alone. Lugano, who appears to be a pretty boy version of Joey Barton, was waging a one man war against Van Persie all night. Booked for dragging RVP down when a red was possible given his clear run on goal, he then proceeded to put in a series of rash challenges on him that he was lucky the referee missed. Ironically, Van Persie was booked late on for a perfectly legal tackle in response.
But never mind. Fenerbahce aren’t our problem, as we will qualify from this group with ease. United are more of an obstacle this weekend, and the likes of Bendtner will have to show a lot more life if we are to pose their excellent defence any testing questions. If Walcott returns that will certainly help, but right now we’re lacking a bit of spark, a rare problem for Wenger to deal with.
Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the game, as it would be typically Arsenal to pull out a performance against the odds. Let’s hope so.