Arsenal 2 Fenerbahce 0 match report: Aaron Ramsey shines again to help Gunners reach Champions League group stage and lure big names
(Arsenal win 5-0 on aggregate)
After the f-word - the rude one - at the last home game, three matches against F-teams have put Arsenal back on track, as well as into the Champions' League proper for the 16th successive season.
Following victories against Fenerbahce, twice, and Fulham, Arsene Wenger will approach Thursday's draw and Sunday's North London derby at home to Tottenham in good heart, optimistic too that having confirmed a place at European football's high table will persuade one or two players to join his club for the feast before Monday night's transfer deadline. Supporters who so vigorously urged during the 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa that some expletive-deleted money be spent will then be happier all round.
Reasons to be far more cheerful than on the opening day of the season included the continuing rehabilitation of Aaron Ramsey, who gave another impressive display and scored both goals to add to one in the first leg. Making the most of Mikel Arteta's continued absence through injury, he has made one of the holding midfield positions his own, while looking increasingly confident in breaking forward.
That is where he was in the 25th minute as a typical Arsenal move flowed through Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, on to Theo Walcott, just onside, who kept his balance under challenge and slid the ball square for Ramsey to knock in from a few yards out. Twenty minutes from the end, he burst in to the penalty area again to score from a pass by Kieran Gibbs.
However, the Welshman was one of several Arsenal players to suffer against the robust tackling of the Turkish side, with Jack Wilshere was also a target. Wenger said: "I don't know how bad Ramsey is. I don't know how Wilshere responds. We have to check that in the morning. The two tackles on Wilshere were disappointing, but he looks all right. Jack should be all right for Sunday.
"I'm hopeful on Aaron as well. I took him off with three or four minutes to go, but I don't know how bad it is. He wanted to stay on."
Germany striker Podolski will miss the derby after suffering a hamstring injury. Wenger said: "We paid a heavy price on the injury front because we lost Podolski. He is definitely out for 21 days."
The Istanbul side were urged on several hundred defiantly vocal supporters, who saw their side make a better fist of things than in the first game without being able to spoil Arsenal's remarkable record of having won every game, home and away, in the six seasons they have had to play in the qualifying round. Fenerbahce now go into the Europa League draw, as long as the Court of Arbitration for Sport does not back up Uefa's proposed ban on them for alleged match-fixing while winning the 2011 Turkish League. That decision is due today.
They again fielded experienced old European campaigners in Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles, both of whom were prominent in a necessarily adventurous performance that required Wojciech Szczesny to make some good saves; one of which involved turning Emmanuel Emenike's shot onto a post after the Nigerian striker raced away down the left onto Kuyt's pass.
Earlier the goalkeeper - one of those Arsenal players who would not welcome a new signing in his position - was required to pull off a good stop from Meireles's jabbed effort high up with his left hand.
Arsenal would have been more comfortable on the night had Olivier Giroud maintained his early-season form but after scoring in each of the previous three games the striker was less clinical. He made way after an hour, a little reluctantly it seemed, for Yaya Sanogo, Arsenal's one signing of the summer - so far. As Fenerbahce began to tire, Walcott hit the bar from a free-kick and Ramsey had the last word.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Monreal; Ramsey, Wilshere; Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud.
Fenerbahce (4-2-3-1): Volkan; Gonul, Bruno Alves, Korkmaz, Erkin; Sahin, Raul Meireles; Sow, Cristian, Kuyt; Emenike.
Match rating 6/10.
Man of match Ramsey.
Referee C V Carballo (Sp).
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