Arsenal past test of character to reign victorious on penalties

Arsenal showed their mental strength as the Gunners progress to the quarter finals of the Champions League at the expense of AS Roma, winning 7-6 on penalties.

Roma 0-1 Arsenal (Agg: 1-1)
Arsenal win 7-6 on penalties

It was a penalty which divided the two sides once again as Arsenal’s youngster’s displayed character to defeat Roma. Van Persie’s spot kick separated the two teams at The Emirates last time round although the Gunners should have won by more and this time, it was Max Tonetto who blazed over what turned out to be the final penalty which decided the tie.

Arsenal were disjointed and not at all fluent all game, the early goal from Juan important in setting the tone of the match. Totti’s cross across goal was left by both Gallas and Toure, in a moment of indecision which found Juan lurking back post to fire home. It was a pity as the two central defenders didn’t put a foot wrong all game and snuffed out most of Roma’s attacks on the counter.

Spaletti spoke beforehand of abandoning their beautiful football in their mission to progress to the last eight and the early goal saw such a change of emphasis. Starting as a diamond, the Italian side reverted to the 4-3-3 with Vucinic and Totti playing high up the pitch and the defence defending deep. This meant the pitch was stretched, not allowing Arsenal to ever get a real foothold in the game. The Gunners fell to the trap not to dissimilar to the match against Fulham and never got themselves out. “We had problems to create clear-cut chances, and that was down to the quality of their defending and resilience,” said Arsene Wenger. Roma squeezed out the space, especially for Nasri to roam in and left no gaps, defending in a deep, compact block.

If there was a foreign team that could match the English sides physically and of their fitness levels it is Roma. High work-rate, high stamina and tactically disciplined ensured their seemingly average players could compete with Arsenal for industry (to the English media at least, are Roma average). Motta and Taddei forced good saves from Almunia and the former, all the way from right back could have won a penalty when bundled over under Clichy’s presence. Arsenal had their chance at the end of normal time as Kolo Toure headed over but that was the closest the Gunners got though Diaby had an effort that went just wide. Sagna and Clichy ran themselves to the ground, Bendtner’s  first touch/final ball eluded him when dribbling while Nasri and Van Persie huffed and puffed to no reward.

Arsenal were better in extra-time which is not saying much. It seemed Roma wanted penalties and one could understand why; their side oozed of expertise from 12 yards out and had penalty takers down to number seven. This was typified by Montella’s penalty which had Almunia stumbling to his right long before the little “The Little Aeroplane” had even shot.  Even the missed penalty from Vucinic showed the confidence Roma had but the Montenegrin poked the ball at Almunia’s legs. Oddly Arsenal’s normally most coolest player, Eduardo missed the first penalty and with Van Persie Arsenal’s most recognised taker left the signs weren’t great. However the youngsters stepped up with Diaby, Denilson, Walcott and Nasri all coolly slotting home before Sagna stroked what turned out to be Arsenal’s last penalty. Max Tonetto didn’t look at all confident when he stepped up as Roma’s clean strikers of the ball ran out. His penalty ballooned way over the bar to send Arsenal through. “The team has swum a lot against the stream,” Wenger said. “I believe this kind of result can increase the belief and the self-confidence which can help us for the rest of the season.”

Roma: Doni, Motta, Diamoutene, Juan (Julio Baptista 28), Riise, Brighi (Montella 120), Pizarro, Tonetto, Taddei (Aquilani 90), Vucinic, Totti.
Subs Not Used: Artur, Loria, Ribeiro, Menez.
Booked: Pizarro, Motta.
Goals: Juan 10.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Diaby, Denilson, Eboue (Walcott 74), Nasri, Bendtner (Eduardo 85), Van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Djourou, Gibbs, Vela, Song Billong.
Booked: Diaby.

Att: 81,000
Ref: Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez (Spain).

Roma Team Statistics Arsenal
1 Goals 0
5 Shots on Target 4
6 Shots off Target 6
4 Blocked Shots 2
8 Corners 14
22 Fouls 20
3 Offsides 1
2 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
72.4 Passing Success 78.5
49 Tackles 34
77.6 Tackles Success 82.4
46.6 Possession 53.4
44.2 Territorial Advantage 55.8
143,881 Distance Covered (metres) 145,736

10 thoughts on “Arsenal past test of character to reign victorious on penalties

  1. Mental strength? We looked like Roma’s boot cleaners for most of the game… Lets face it, we were lucky.

    Questions I ask myself are: How many crosses have we actually scored from this season? Not mnay (if any at all). How many times do we have to play with the same setup to realise its not working? AW plays the same setup time and time again with the same result (CRAP). How many chances does Bendtner need to prove hes Arsenal material? Well hes had 100’s, what does that tell you. When will Denilson play like a Brazilian? I know hes hard working but thats because he makes the work for himself. and finally, when will AW shit up with the same BS about character, commitment, attitude yada, yada… Some of these guys are so different from one game to the rest its unbeleivable!!!

  2. wow lee did you copy and paste your post from gunning hawk or did this post come first?

    Of course some players are so different from game to game, the youngsters do not have the maturity to play consistently. That comes with age and patience.

    good post AC, you are critical but pessimistic

    1. Sorry if this post sounded pessimistic, my posts are usually optimistic but maybe this time I tried to over analyse the match.
      Anyway Arsenal still need to find a way through deep defending opponents bearing in mind however they are still missing key men in Rosicky and Fabregas who can open defences, the directness of Adebayor and the intelligent movement and instinct of Eduardo.

      Lee: Regarding set-up, Wenger has changed the formation quite a few times recently but unfortunately Arsenal are missing just that little bit to open up teams at greater will. Yes Arsenal weren’t the most potent going forward but nor were Roma.

      1. We need those incisive forward passes that cesc makes. having the offense run onto those is how you get past deep defenses. when diaby plays forward we can get those passes. this season we have had too many square passes leading to crosses into the box, which we are not the best at converting.

  3. I have a massive headache, RVP pissed me right off, i understand we werent really playing well, but his effort to block CB from passing to midfield and also contesting all aerial duels from our goalkick.

  4. Why play Bendtner out on the left? He should have been put up front where his strength could trouble a makeshift Roma defence. Fair dues to Roma, they gave a great performance for a team riddled with injuries, but over the two leg we shaded it.

  5. ur disillusioned if u think roma would be the same in their home turf.. they are a good footballing side regardless of what the english media print..

    they kicked chelsea’s ass.. they alsmost scrwd up inter at san siro couple of weeks back.. they had a good gameplan of stifling nasri.. which worked.. so i think it was a battling performance.. they didnt have too many chances.. CL games away are never easy.. if we have to be critical then we have to be of the first leg when we didnt take our chances..

    anyways f*k it all.. we won.. and make no mistake this win is goin to be a big boost.. for the youngsters..

    fingers crossed no hangover for the rovers game..

  6. A great learning experiernce for the whole side playing in a very pressured environment. Will only serve them well in the next few weeks. Amazing that a lot of posters seem to think the pressure of an occassion will not get to players.
    In snooker it is very easily seen on tv as pressure gets to a player and his playing tightens up
    Not so easy to see in a team game but I think it weas the main prob on wednesday night
    Fantastic win
    Great write up AC

  7. Yes Arsenal did it and went to the Quarter finals, having Cesc and Wallcot will be key to have the ability to crack down deep well organized defenses.

    This win gives Wenger’s young Gunners big boost in confidence and maturity.
    In the Champions League its not necesserly to play always brilliant to advance to the next rounds.

    Great two games by Arsenal.

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