Arsenal defeated Fenerbahce in the second leg of the Champions League playoff tie in London on Tuesday night. The win was a comfortable one for Arsenal, and the team seems to have found some form after a disastrous opening day loss.
The form that Arsenal has found will go far in their progress this season, as finding confidence in August can have serious implications for later in the season. This game looked to be a comfortable affair for Arsenal, after taking a 3-0 lead to the Emirates in Turkey. The game was indeed comfortable, but proved to be a bit more difficult than the first leg. Arsenal had plenty of talent to see the game out as 2-0 winners, and advanced to the group stages of the Champions League for the 16th straight season.
Many players performed well for Arsenal, but it was Aaron Ramsey who stole the spotlight and earned man of the match honors. Ramsey scored both of the game’s goals, putting his season tally at three, which is one more than he had all of last season. He has impressed in the first four games, with his tireless effort and creative play. He looks to be an early season candidate for player of the season, but it is still quite early. Ramsey playing at this high of a level is perfect for Arsenal, as Mikel Arteta is still out with an injury.
One of the more negative parts to the game was the injuries that Arsenal might have suffered. Lukas Podolski pulled up after the first play in the second half with an apparent hamstring injury that looks nasty. Ramsey came off late in the game favoring his groin. Both of the injuries could put the club in even more injury trouble, and with the transfer window coming to a close on Sept. 2, Arsenal might have to do some shopping.
Podolski had gained some confidence with two goals against Fulham after not starting the first two games of the season, but now it seems he will have a spell on the bench. Hopefully it is not too lengthy and he can keep some of the form. Ramsey’s injury might not be too bad, but if it is, Arsenal would be even thinner in the midfield. With his recent performances, this could stall some of the progress that Arsenal has had in the past week.
Overall, the win in London will be very important in luring players to the Emirates, but the injuries suffered might prove to be very damaging. With the north London derby on Sunday against Tottenham, Arsenal needs as many healthy players as possible. This game almost transcends football, and is massively important to fans and players alike. Hopefully the injuries aren’t as serious as initially reported, but Arsenal does not usually have good luck like that. Although, some would argue that Arsenal makes its own bad luck.
The next few days will be very interesting, and can be telling in how the rest of the season will play out. A massive match against their biggest rivals and the end of the transfer window are separated by one day, so we will see what Monday brings. It could be elation or huge disappointment. Then again, isn’t that football?