• Champions League Qualifying Play-Off
  • 27 Aug 2013
  • KO 19:45
  • Ground: Emirates Stadium
Home team Score Away team




Aaron Ramsey 25, 72

Arsenal 2 Fenerbahce 0 - Tactical analysis

Tuesday 27th August 2013 22:47

Aaron Ramsey: Is excelling in central role

Aaron Ramsey: Is excelling in central role

Adam Bate takes a look at some of the positives from Arsenal's comfortable 2-0 Champions League play-off round win over Fenerbahce.

Arsenal wrapped up their qualification for the Champions League group stages with victory over Fenerbahce at the Emirates Stadium to complete a 5-0 aggregate win.

It was comfortable for the Gunners and Aaron Ramsey once again took the headlines as the in-form midfielder scored a goal in each half for the home side.

Although there will still be pressure on Arsene Wenger to add to his squad ahead of the closure of the transfer window next week, given that this result follows similarly emphatic victories in Turkey and against Fulham, it might just have changed a few opinions on the current Arsenal squad. Here we take a look at some of the key stories from the game...


Arsene Wenger might have been expected to rest some of his key players given that the Gunners came into the home leg with a three-goal lead and the north London derby awaits at the weekend, but instead it was a strong line-up for the crowd at the Emirates Stadium to enjoy.

Bacary Sagna was preferred to Laurent Koscielny in the centre of defence but other than that this was perhaps the best team Wenger could name, featuring as it did the same midfield and striker that produced such a convincing performance in the win at Fulham on Saturday.

Fenerbahce made six changes to the team that surrendered so meekly in Turkey, including three of the back four. Perhaps the most notable introduction was that of Emmanuel Emenike, the Nigeria international, who came in up front.

Where it was won and lost

"Arsenal are very sleepy here," said Charlie Nicholas as slack Arsenal defending allowed Fenerbahce an early effort on goal. It was that kind of atmosphere early on. Even the most pessimistic of Gunners fans - and there are a few out there - must have turned up in the knowledge this would be a training exercise given the first-leg scoreline. But there were still questions to answer and issues to address...

Ramsey might be doing just that if he maintains this form. The Welshman has received plenty of praise in the opening weeks of the new season and with good cause. He has replaced the injured Mike Arteta impressively in midfield, passing the ball well and also bringing added drive to the Arsenal team. He popped up in the box to score the opening goal midway through the first half before repeating the trick after the break.

The first goal came from a familiar route as Lukas Podolski slipped a ball behind the Fenerbahce defence for the ever dangerous Theo Walcott in the inside right channel and Caner Erkin could only divert the ball into Ramsey's path. Perhaps the only question that remains regarding Ramsey is whether his tendency to push forwards leaves Arsenal vulnerable against superior opposition. The gap is there to be exposed.

But against Fenerbahce, this did not prove critical. In fact, some of Arsenal's passing was far too good for the Turkish side. One first-half move once the Gunners were 1-0 up on the night involved nine of the team as the ball went from Wojciech Szczesny all the way to Olivier Giroud, only for the France international striker to see his shot saved when well placed in the left channel.

Giroud's movement up front was a plus point of the evening for Arsenal, even if his finishing was wasteful. This was the first game of the season in which he has failed to find the net but his interplay with the midfielders has been one of the encouraging features of the team's season so far, offering plenty of movement as a decoy runner for the team.

Cazorla is also giving Wenger plenty to think about with his performances in the centre. The Spaniard began the season cutting in from wide positions with Tomas Rosicky playing in the middle and Podolski on the bench. The introduction of the German on the left has allowed Cazorla to take a central role and this was another typically strong display.

Podolski's hamstring injury during the second-half could cause a rethink but what the Gunners gain by Cazorla's presence on the flank they must be aware they will lose in the middle. His ability to make forward passes from the centre is a huge asset and complements Ramsey's neat and tidy distribution. Given the chance to look left as well as right, Cazorla has more options and the decision-making ability to choose the right one.

Kieran Gibbs was the man who came on to replace Podolski, operating in an advanced left-wing role ahead of his rival for the left-back slot, Nacho Monreal. And Gibbs gave a reminder of what he can bring to the team when he ran down the left before crossing for Ramsey to add his second with 20 minutes remaining. Gibbs could be an alternative option in Podolski's absence if Wenger does decide Cazorla should stay in the middle.

But for now Wenger is entitled to look back on seven satisfying days for his squad. His much-maligned striker is looking good and the midfielder who Arsenal fans were convinced was not up to the task is now thriving with the added responsibility he has been given in the centre. And he's got Santi Cazorla. Reasons for optimism then. Next up: Tottenham Hotspur.

Charlie's view

"Ramsey has suddenly found that confidence. I watched him in pre-season and he was the stand-out. He looked fit and he looked ready to go. Maybe it just took him that length of time to get over the bad injury that he had. It came take time mentally and maybe he's got round that. There's no point in Aaron Ramsey being a bit-part player. He's got this season to prove himself. Can he play for Arsenal at the top level? So far they've had an absolutely fantastic response."

Man of the Match

Hard to look beyond Ramsey. He kept things ticking over well, playing more passes than anyone else on the pitch - 86 of them at a success rate of 91 per cent. But more than that, he was also a factor further forwards and scored both of the game's goals to ensure it was a win on the night for Arsenal as well as on aggregate. The 22-year-old is certainly doing his best to persuade Wenger that central midfield is not the position that the Gunners need to strengthen before September 2nd.



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