Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Scot Munroe On August - 25 - 2011

Udinese 1-2 Arsenal: Dream Over For Zebrette

The dream of Champions League football this season is over for Udinese as they were knocked out by Arsenal  3-1 on aggregate in qualifying late Wednesday.

First leg action at the Emirates last Tuesday ended 1-0 to the hosts yet Udinese equipped themselves well as the Gunners went on to capitulate at the weekend against Liverpool for the first time in 11 seasons on their home turf.  Perfect time for Udinese to place a nail in the coffin as things unravel under Wenger and predictions from the pundits are placing Arsenal potentially outside a top four finish in the Premier League this season.

Arsenal started off the quicker as former Lille man Gervinho was released down the left-hand side but his cross was well dealt with by Udinese keeper Samir Handanovic as Robin Van Persie waited to pounce on any mishandled. Moments later Theo Walcott also had a chance on goal but his attempt was easily dealt with by Handanovic.

The home side was not as quick off the mark as their guests, and the Zebrette clearly struggled early though they did have a goal disallowed in the ninth minute when Antonio Di Natale was deemed offside scoring with a fantastic volley attempt.  Some watching will surely claim it a debatable call by the official as Di Natale always the proficient game changer, shows his excellence ramming a shot into the net from inside the box.

Not a game for sitting back, Di Natale continued to show his class when he thumped a long ranger at goal at the first quarter mark that was held by Szczesny before Alex Song lifts an effort over the bar at the other end. But after 20 minutes, Arsenal was already leading on attempts at goal, with six compared to three from the home side.

Changing gears Udinese would turn on the jets putting Arsenal on the back footing and with a lovely cross from Isla, Di Natale would hit the woodwork from close range. So unlucky this and so history repeating as the Zebrette captain did the same during the first leg eight days prior. Once again Di Natale should probably have scored with keeper Szczesny beaten.

The goal would finally come for Udinese 6 minutes before half time. A Pinzi cross in from the right hand side for Antonio Di Natale who looped a header in off the post to level the tie at 1-1 opened the scoring.

Arsenal made a telling substitution during the half time interval as Tomas Rosicky would replace Emmanuel Frimpong.

All would begin to unravel for Udinese just ten minutes into the second half as the visitors equalised. Arsenal winger Gervinho broke down the left hand side, skipping past Mehdi Benatia to the by-line and eventually finding Robin Van Persie who would score from close range.  (see above video for goal highlights) Easy finish and Arsenal have a crucial away goal.

Moments later the Zebrette were given a fantastic opportunity to get back into the drivers seat as a corner from the right hand side and a penalty was awarded for a Thomas Vermaelen handling offence. Antonio Di Natale stepped up but was brilliantly denied by Szczesny one handed tip over the bar.

In the 69th minute Arsenal doubled their lead taking a massive step to the Champions League group stage as Theo Walcott used his pace to ease past Benatia and finished calmly past Handanovic. This was harsh on Udinese and it showed as all of the confident and passion was just sapped away after the second goal while classic countering attacking stuff  by Arsenal send them up 2-1 on the night. 3-1 overall.

Antonio Di Natale had yet another shot tipped away by Szczesny in the closing minutes and during stoppage time at the other end Samir Handanovic pulled off a fantastic double save to deny Tomas Rosicky and Armand Traore.  Top marks to both keepers who kept the the total scoring to three for the night.

Udinese gave Arsenal a game over two games and should not be dishearted by the two performances.  How will this affect Italy’s coefficient numbers? Well it ain’t pretty as Serie A needs some great performances from all Serie A clubs playing in Europe this season.

Scot Munroe

A Football fan for around 18 years since the age of 6 years old. My first love is Swindon town now managed by the mad man that is Paolo Di Canio. I have been a fan of Italian football for around 10-15 years now since the Channel four days back in the Uk with James Richardson. I am a Roma fan as well and i have been following the club since 2003 with the attack minded football with Totti and Cassano.

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