Arsenal 2 Fenerbahce 0: Red-hot Ramsey Gives the Gunners a Turkish Delight
Emirates Stadium (Champions League)
Arsenal: Ramsey 25′, 72′
The job was half done as the Gunners had to put up another good performance that would be enough for Arsene Wenger’s side to qualify for Europe’s elite competition for the 16th season in a row.
The manager had promised to field a strong lineup and he wasn’t bluffing as the Gunners started with basically the same XI that was outstanding in Istanbul with the exceptions of Carl Jenkinson, Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski that all had starting berths. Fenerbahce, on the other hand, made wholesale changes from the team that was piss poor in Turkey as six players were axed from the squad to accommodate the new look lineup.
The visitors almost stunned the hosts with a shock lead with Jenkinson was robbed off the ball after dallying on it. An attack buiit up for Fenerbahce but after a goalmouth scramble, the ball fell to Raul Meireles and his attempt on goal required a reaction save from Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal launched a swift attack with Santi Cazorla teeing up Wilshere but when the ball fell to Olivier Giroud, the Frenchman curled his effort wide of the mark.
Arsenal kept probing for a goal and the breakthrough arrived when Lukas Podolski sent Walcott through but the pass was intercepted by Egemen. Egemen’s attempt to remove the ball from danger was a tame one and the ball rolled to Ramsey’s path leaving the Welshman no choice but to dispatch it into an empty net.
Another moment of uncertainty arrived when Szczesny failed to deal with a long ball but he still managed to smother the ball with Emmanuel Emenike on the prowl. Ramsey then did well to feed Giroud on the left hand side but with Walcott and Podolski free on the far post, Giroud selfishly chose to fire the shot from an acute angle which led to a Volkan Demirel save. Podolski was quick to express his disgust shortly afterwards.
Cazorla then lofted a diagonal ball for Giroud and the striker tried to return back to the Spaniard with a guided header. Egemen intercepted the ball and nodded it back to his goalie but it almost caught Volkan Demirel and he did pretty well to prevent an embarrassing own goal. As the game progressed, Emenike fashioned a chance for himself on the right hand side, blasting a goal-bound shot that was parried to the post by Szczesny. Fenerbahce launched another attack that required another reaction save from Szczesny after Emenike latched unto Dirk Kuyt’s cross.
The second half began on a very sad note for the Gunners as Podolski tweaked his hammy at the early stages of the game. He looked very distraught and required a stretcher to be taken off the pitch. Wenger opted to use Kieran Gibbs as his replacement. There was a comical moment when Emenike dived blatantly in the box but he was caught by the eagle-eyed referee and was brandished a yellow card for trying to con the man with the whistle.
With half an eye on the Spurs game on Sunday, Wenger replaced Giroud with newbie, Yaya Sanogo. Cazorla had a couple of half chances that were saved by the goalie and Arsenal’s next attempt on goal arrived when Walcott fired a free kick into the bar.
The match clincher arrived when Wilshere fashioned a chance for Gibbs and the Englishman drilled an effort into the danger area. The ball was met stylishly by an onrushing Ramsey that sidefooted it into Volkan Demirel’s net to put the game beyond doubt. For a player that has seen the bad side of his own fans, hearing the Gooners sing Ramsey’s songs were heartwarming.
Wenger withdrew Walcott for Ryo Miyaichi and after some great work from Cazorla, Sanogo blasted his effort over the bar. As the game reached its climax, Wilshere was on the end of some malicious challenges from the Fenerbahce players and showed great maturity to keep his cool amidst the turmoil. The Wilshere of old would have gone berserk and he would have tried to get his own pound of flesh.
He almost had a chance to score a goal after some good work from Cazorla and Jenkinson but his right footed effort was fired straight at Volkan Demirel. Late on, Jenko and Miyaichi combined well on the right and he was odds on to break his Arsenal goalscoring duck but his effort was close to the goalie.
In the end, it was a great run-out for Arsene Wenger’s men but he stated in his post-match conference that Podolski will be out for 21 days, which is clearly a problem with Arsenal’s squad very depleted. He also stated that Ramsey has a groin problem but he believes that he’ll be fit enough to play Tottenham.
Ramsey’s vast improvement has been one of Arsenal’s bright sparks so far and one would wonder what could happen if the Gunners still swoop for Yohan Cabaye when Mikel Arteta returns to full fitness. It will be good to see the manager have some selection headaches but Ramsey is becoming indispensable to the team.
It was pleasant seeing him give his team a Turkish Delight.
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