They say there is no such thing as an easy game in football and when it comes to the Arsenal, that phrase couldn’t be more true. On a cold night at the Emirates, with a 60,000 big crowd, it was always going to be a tricky tie.
Ahead of the game, news filtered in that Gibbs was going to fill in for the flu-stricken Clichy and Denilson was going to fill in for Wilshere, whom I believe was not used tactically as the line up contained two strikers in Robin Van Persie and Maroune Chamakh.
The line up was:
Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Gibbs
Denilson – Song
Nasri – Van Persie – Arshavin
On the bench we had Szcznesy, Eboue, Wilshere, Rosicky, Walcott, Vela and Bendtner.
Partizan wanted to get a result here and I was impressed with the way they came out – defensive, but with two players at every opportunity. They started well, and we couldn’t find space and within the first 15 minutes, the crowd were already chanting the classic worry chant… “Come on Arsenal”…
There was pretty much nothing to write home about – Chamakh was having one of his worst games of the season so far, Denilson looked a little clueless and Arshavin was over elaborate.
We have the ref to thank for awarding what looked like a very soft penalty (I may need to watch the replay again) and Robin Van Persie fired us 1-0 up. In fact, outside of the penalty, we had no shots on target in the first half- very strange for a must win game – but also an accolade to the way they defended.
The first shot on target actually came from a Robin Van Persie freekick outside the box but by then Partizan had equalised with one of their few efforts – heck, it may have been their first shot too – the communication and connection between Squillaci and Koscielny still in need of some improvement!
At this point with 19 minutes to go, it was squeaky bum time – 1-1 here and 0-0 at Shaktar – if either Partizan or Braga scored then we’d be out of the Champions League… Walcott was on for Arshavin and Eboue had already replaced the injured Gibbs… and young Theo put us ahead with a good finish after some pressing from us… The ball ricocheted out to Theo about 6 yards out and the young England international dispatched the ball into the back of the net… Relief was an understatement.
At the same time,