Match Report: FC Twente 0-2 Arsenal

Arsenal went into tonight’s vital Champions League qualifier against Steve McClaren’s new side, FC Twente, with a multitude of players injured.

FC Twente bossed the first half with some slick passing but Arsenal gritted their teeth and ground out an ugly 2-0 victory to go into the second leg with a very comfortable lead.

FC Twente Starting XI


Wilkshire – Wielaert – Douglas – Braafhied

Brama – Tiote – Janssen

Denneboom – Arnautovic – Elia

Arsenal Starting XI


Sagna – Djourou – Gallas – Clichy

Eboue – Ramsey – Denilson – Walcott

Van Persie – Adebayor

First Half

Adebayor and Van Persie got the vital game under way as FC Twente raced out the blocks to put the Gunners under early pressure.  The side more many of the early 50-50s and an early attack saw an FC Twente header go safely wide.  The home fans were in good voice as FC Twente started to look more and more comfortable on the ball, provoking some inpatient fouls from the likes of Gallas.

Arsenal were finding it hard to muster up an attack, but a good through ball to Van Persie saw Arsenal steal a corner, only for the resultant ball to hit Walcott’s arm.  FC Twente had a dangerous break denied confidently by Djourou as Arsenal still searched for much more possession.  Djourou displayed why he is a defender when a promising run came to absolutely nothing following a below-par pass as Arsenal struggled to find a foothold in the game.  Hearts where in mouths after Van Persie carelessly gave the ball away in midfield and Elia had to be denied by an alert Almunia.

Clichy suffered a rare lapse of concentration as he allowed Denneboom to cut through into the area, but fortunately for the Frenchman, the shot was blasted over the bar.  The lack of Fabregas was frustratingly evident as the Gunners found it challenging to string together any effective passing moves.  Ramsey attempted an abition long-range drive, but the 17-year old could only watch as it sailed over and wide.

Poor Arsenal defending saw Arnautovic clean through on goal, but the striker who hasn’t scored in 18 games stumbled and allowed Almunia to come out and block to the rushed shot.  Arsenal raced back down the park looking to counter and Van Persie snuck in a dangerous cross, appearing to get injured in the process.  A very worrying sight.  Clichy fancied his chances from outside the area and his well-struck shot nearly bore fruit from the rebound, however a hasty Sagna snatched at the ball and shanked the shot wide.

FC Twente continued to boss the game from the midfield as the referee blew for half-time, to the relief of Arsenal, as a goal just before half-time would have been a hammer blow to the Gunners.

Second Half

Arsenal started the second half by belatedly stringing together a promising move which ended in Van Persie’s stinging strike being shut out by the Twente defence.  Arsenal appeared energised after the break but were still being rushed on the ball leading to yet more sloppy passing from the midfield.  The Gunners lacked any sense of urgency as Twente were relentlessly bearing down upon the likes of Denilson, luckily Braafheid could only muster up one of the worst shots that these eyes have ever seen.

Twente were beginning to make some careless errors at the back but Eboue’s touch was poor when he was handed an easy break and possession was lost, again. A free kick was won a few feet inside the opposition half and Van Persie floated in a high ball, Twente’s defence failed to react whatsoever and Gallas bundled the ball in the back of the net with the least amount of style possible.

Goal – William Gallas (63 mins)

Van Persie was booked for an thoughtless push on Wielaert, the striker was clearly venting some of his frustration, albeit needlessly.  Arsenal were looking to add to Twente’s misery with another away goal achieving a higher percentage of possession, but the cutting edge in the final third was still missing.  The Gunners were starting to sit back and focus on defending their narrow 1-0 lead as McClaren’s side appeared to be running out of ideas.

Arsenal’s defence fell asleep again, as a through ball found its way through to the ineffective Arnautovic whose only option was a left-footed poke that hit the side netting.  Still Arsenal strived for the second goal and a visionary long ball from back met Walcott’s run on the left who pulled it back simply for Adebayor. The Togo front man kept his cool and calmly slotted the ball past the sprawling Boschker.  Every Arsenal fans’ favourite link up.

Goal – Emmanuel Adebayor (82 mins)

The second goal gave Arsenal a much higher comfort level as the team notably relaxed, passing the ball around with ease, something they had made hard work of in the first-half.  Randall was brought on for Walcott as the game slowed down considerably with Twente effectively giving up.

A poor first half from the Gunners, but the players dug deep and pulled out a crucial 2-0 victory.

Player Ratings

Almunia: 7 – Very sharp, and had to be due to some sloppy defending from the back four. Did very well to prevent Twente’s one-on-one chance.

Sagna: 6 – Not as prominent as he usually is and could have put the team up 1-0 had he not be so hasty.

Djourou: 6 – Some edgy moments but coped well with the call up and make some solid tackles

Gallas: 6.5 – Offside trap was beaten far too easily but redeemed himself with the vital first goal.

Clichy: 5 – Completely out of sorts tonight. Let Twente players by him far too easily and was careless in possession

Eboue: 5.5 – Quiet throughout the match and failed to make much of an impression on the game.

Ramsey: 6 – Another quiet night from a member of the below-par midfield. However looked tidy in possession.

Denilson: 6.5 – Looked threatening at times, but again, not as dominant as he should have been.

Walcott: 6.5 – Was blocked out the came physically by Twente but showed kept going and supplied Adebayor with a good ball to slot home.

Van Persie: 6 – Let down by the midfield and couldn’t have done much more. Had his shot not been blocked it may have been goal bound.

Adebayor: 6.5 – Had to be patient due to the lack of supply from the midfield but was rewarded with his goal in the dying minutes.


Randall: N/A – Only on for 5 minutes.

Bendtner: N/A – Only on for 5 minutes.

Man of the Match: Almunia – Looked the sharpest player on the pitch and kept the players’ heads up by preventing some dangerous moments that came from Twente’s attack.


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