By Walter Broeckx
We started with the strongest team we had available with some 11 players out for various reasons like injuries, carrying knocks around, feeling a little pain left or right.
So the starting line up was: Szczesny, Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Bellerin, Flamini, Campbell, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Podolski, Sanogo. And on the Turkish beach we had the players they usually call subs: Martinez, O’Connor, Kamara, Maitland-Niles, Zelalem, Iwobi, Akpom.
Bellerin at left back for this match. Campbell on the right flank, Podolski on the left and Sanogo in the middle of the attack. A few players wanting to prove a point in there. And Debuchy back for the first time after being out for a few months with an injury.
Let me show them what I can do must have been the thought of Podolski. And well we all know that his left foot can be lethal. But what a thunderbolt that was in the 3rd minute. I don’t think Bolat the Galatasaray keeper knew what happened before the ball bounced out of the net. It could have broken the net. Bang, aha in the top corner said Lukas.
I have said a few times before WHEN Lukas is in the mood and on fire he can be world class. The big problem is that he in’t always is in the mood and on fire. But today he was.
Before the Turkish players knew what had hit them we were 0-2 up. Podolski chasing a Turkish player who went down and the ref saw nothing in it. The Ox with a great run releasing the ball in the path of Ramsey. Will I turn to my right foot or just go on the outside and pass the ball in the goal at the far post? Ramsey did the latter and we were well in front.
“I want more” must have thought Podolski and his shot almost broke the crossbar. Unlucky! I also was very impressed by his hard working attitude in this match. Defending when needed and helping out Bellerin at left back. Galatasaray tried hard to get one back but apart from a shot that was diverted in to the path of a Turkish player who missed they didn’t really create any open chances. Shots from far and even further but they couldn’t really trouble Szczesny.
After a corner to Arsenal the ball was half cleared and an Arsenal players smashed it in the top corner from some 25 meters out. A completely unstoppable left footed volley. My instant reaction was: Lukas….but no it was Aaron Ramsey who just scored a brilliant goal! WHAT A GOAL! WHAT A SHOT! 0-3 and only half an hour played.
Arsenal ran riot and whenever they came forward they looked threatening. Campbell could have put the icing on the first half cake but was denied by a great stop from Bolat this time. But I was rather happy with the 0-3 at half time.
Dortmund still being at 0-0 meant that we could still be top of the group if we would score another 3 goals. But Wenger changed and took off Flamini on a yellow and man of the match Ramsey who was on a hattrick. Saving their legs for next weekend I suppose. So on came 17 year old Zelalem and Ainsley Maitland-Niles also 17 came on.
So we had two seventeen year old kids in midfield playing against Sneyder and Altintop who had come up for Galatasaray. And a 19 year old left back with no experience. In a way it did tell a bit. We still played the ball out nicely at times but the Turkish team now trying to do something about the score line. Neat passing but not the drive we saw from Ramsey and thus we were less good going forward.
And the ref who had an excellent first half looked to have placed a bet on Galatasaray at least scoring a goal. Sanogo was whistled back whenever he came close to the ball for some strange reason. Well it looked that way on my stream. Galatasaray pressing for a goal the longer the match lasted and some tired legs by some Arsenal players. Debuchy was looking more and more tired and was also replaced by …another 17 year old boy Stefen O’Connor.
The defending became more difficult but that is no real surprise when you play away from home in the CL with 3 kids, 2 almost kids and other players who didn’t have much playing time so far this season. But with some hard work, much running around by the kids, it looked that we would keep the clean sheet.
But then the ref decided to give a handball against Mertesacker who had blocked a shot with an arm in front of his chest. Can someone cut his arms off… no just joking but it was in line with the ref his 2nd half performance. Sneyder stepped up and aimed for the same top corner like Ramsey did with our 3rd goal and I must say it was a decent kick that deserved a consolation goal. But I still doubt the free kick very much. But 1-3 after 90 minutes was still very decent.
But I think it angered Podolski a bit who had been rather quiet in the second half. And so he decided to make up for that goal by making a nice 1-2 with Sanogo and finishing it off calmly with his right foot. 1-4 to Arsenal after 92 minutes when the ref had enough of it. I wouldn’t have minded another 10 minutes of this to be honest.
Ramsey scoring again and even twice with his left foot. Podolski scoring two goal once again underlining his thunder-shot and even scoring one with his right foot. And at the end we found out that we missed the first spot in the group with only two goals as Anderlecht managed a draw in Dortmund.
But what the heck, this was fun. I felt good for the match and I like to thank all those who did their usual rituals. I think the match was as enjoyable as their rituals.
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