Gunners held at the Emirates
Arsenal 0 Fenerbahce 0
Wednesday 05 November 2008
Arsenal failed to lift the gloom surrounding the Emirates Stadium as wasteful finishing ensured they were held to a frustrating stalemate by Fenerbahce.
The Gunners, derided for their lack of courage after last weekend's calamitous defeat by Stoke, barely needed a strong constitution as they toyed with the Turks' defence in a one-sided first half.
But yet again their accuracy in front of goal lacked the precision of their approach play with Robin van Persie the most wasteful.
Van Persie, banned from the next three Barclays Premier League games after being sent off against Stoke, could have put them out of sight at half-time on his own.
Impressive Fenerbahce goalkeeper Volkan Demirel played a crucial role in keeping Arsenal at bay but his heroics will be of scant consolation to Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
Wenger yesterday bristled at claims his side lacked bravery against physical teams and he craved a similar response to that seen after the domestic upsets by Fulham and Hull earlier this season.
Following those defeats Arsenal put Twente and Porto to the sword but there was to be no morale-boosting European rout tonight as they endured another setback.
The defeat by Stoke and the draw with Tottenham have caused the Gunners to lose ground in the Barclays Premier League title race and they host Manchester United on Saturday on the back of a three-match winless streak.
Wenger sprung a couple of surprises by naming Lukasz Fabianski in goal and Aaron Ramsey at right midfield, while Johan Djourou was selected ahead of Alexandre Song at centre-back.
Fenerbahce picked Roberto Carlos at left-back and the Brazilian endured a nervy start that almost set up the opener for Van Persie.
The former Real Madrid star's tame clearance landed straight at the feet of Ramsey who played a square ball to the unmarked Cesc Fabregas.
The Spaniard lofted a sweet pass into the box and Van Persie timed his run to perfection only to see his prodded shot slip inches wide of the right post.
Ramsey, making his first start in the group stage of the Champions League, was showing no sign of nerves as he eased into the box only to find the arms of Volkan.
Samir Nasri - another summer arrival at the Emirates Stadium - showed less composure as he flailed at a deflected cross by Van Persie.
It was then the Dutchman who let another chance go begging, drilling the ball into the ground and over the crossbar after Volkan got fingertips to a Fabregas lob.
Arsenal showed far greater invention in attack but still had nothing to show for their obvious superiority. Kolo Toure, playing at right-back, created space for Van Persie who brilliantly turned Diego Lugano inside-out before seeing his shot from point-blank range pushed onto the crossbar by Volkan.
Nasri drew a good save from the Turkey goalkeeper as the first half remained goalless.
A swift counter-attack by Fenerbahce shortly after the interval saw Fabianski come to the rescue by nudging Ugur Boral's low strike wide of the right post.
The ineffective Nicklas Bendtner and impressive Ramsey were replaced by Carlos Vela and Abou Diaby with half an hour to go and they watched as Van Persie nodded a superb opportunity over the crossbar.
Chances were arriving less frequently as Arsenal began to run out of ideas, their play frustrated by a Fenerbahce rearguard that knew it had successfully dealt with their opponents' best efforts.
Defender Mikael Silvestre went off clutching his nose with five minutes to go and the Gunners failed to mount another meaningful attack.
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