Champions League playoffs: Arsenal beat Udinese 1-0 at The Emirates
Arsenal won their opening leg of the playoffs against Udinese by a solitary goal at the Emirates, but it was more of a sense of relief than confidence that Arsene Wenger will feel by the victory. The second leg of this playoff between Arsenal and Udinese will be played on August 24.
Wenger, to be fair, have had too many things to ponder about going into this game and he would be only happy to come out of the game unscathed. The departures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas were bad enough, but would have added to the saga was the fact that the transfers took all that time to finally materialise.
On the other hand, Arsenal could have won by two goals. Udinese, while they threatened the goal, did not come too close to scoring in the match, while Theo Walcott, Arsenal’s lone goal-scorer in the game did have a chance to double the scoreline. Unfortunately for him and to the goal-keeper, Samir Handanovic’s credit, the ball was tipped away and Arsenal couldn’t do much with the corner.
Earlier, it was in only the fourth minute of the game that Walcott gave Arsenal the lead. Aaron Ramsey was allowed the space to push the ball towards Walcott, who wasn’t put under any undue pressure by the Udinese defence as he slotted the ball into the goal.
In the 11th minute, Udinese got their best chance of the game as Di Natale missed the goal after hitting the crossbar. Walcott and Neuton received a yellow card each in the same minute, the former for his tackle on Di Natale and the latter for brandishing an imaginary card at the referee. Unfortunately for Udinese, it was Di Natale alone who came close to scoring anything, with the others not supporting him too much.
The win means that a draw in the second leg will be sufficient for Arsenal to move forward to the Champions League for the 14th time in a row. For Udinese to make it to the Champions League for only the second time in their history, the side will need to win the game by at least a two-goal margin – if they beat Arsenal 2-1, the Gunners will still advance on the more goals away rule.
Nothing to choose from though, what with Arsenal going into the second leg at 7/5 to win the game, while Udinese at 8/5. A drawn match is being tipped at 9/4 for this second leg match, by which time, Arsenal would have played another EPL game and given insights into how well they could go.
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