Udinese vs. Arsenal: Arsenal Player Ratings

Callum D'SouzaSenior Writer IAugust 25, 2011

Arsenal are in the UEFA Champions League for 2011-12, signifying their 14th consecutive campaign in Europe's most prestigious competition.

After much debate that the Gunners would fail to qualify due to the departures of captain Cesc Fabregas and key playmaker Samir Nasri, Arsene Wenger's men still prevailed.

With Arsenal possessing  a slim, one-nil advantage from the first leg against Udinese, Gunners fans were nervous as their side travelled to northeast Italy to the Stadio Friuli.

Arsenal boasted a weakened team, missing PFA young player of the year Jack Wilshere and French defender Laurent Koscielny whilst England international Kieran Gibbs was also missing.

However the Gunners looked lively in the opening exchanges, with Gervinho and Theo Walcott both looking sharp but failing to capitalize.

Udinese were also threatening, particularly through heroic captain Antonio Di Natale.

It was the 33-year-old who provided the difference in the first half, with the Italian placing a neat header past Wojciech Szczesny to give Udinese a one-nil advantage and an equalizer in aggregate terms six minutes from the main break.

It ensured that Wenger's men went into the dressing rooms vulnerable and nervous. Wenger needed no one to remind him of the immense financial and reputational security that would diminish if defeat emerged tonight.

However, the young Gunners dominated the second half.

The injection of Tomas Rosicky alongside overwhelming desire resulted in Arsenal equalizing in the match and taking an advantage on aggregate.

Gervinho had shown neat skill in the 55th minute to attack the by line before playing a perfect pass for Robin van Persie to score.

Fifteen minutes later Theo Walcott showed great pace and an impressive finish, not before Wojciech Szczesny made a sublime penalty save from Di Natale, to ensure the game was Arsenal's and signify their presence will be felt in the UEFA Champions League in 2011-12.

Arsenal Player Ratings

Wojciech Szczesny: 8

 The Polish shot-stopper epitomized his high value with an incredible penalty save. Furthermore the 21-year-old dealt with everything Udinese heaved his way to show that Wojciech Szczesny is in no danger of facing demotion as the Arsenal No. 1.

Carl Jenkinson: 7

 The youngster was solid on his full European debut, conveying impressive strength and speed. The teenager did face a few positioning errors and erratic clearances but overall did nothing to hurt his first-team chances.

Johan Djourou: 6.5

The imposing Swiss was exposed in a poor position as Antonio Di Natale found a breakthrough but regathered and made some necessary interceptions and clearances. Djourou enforced his experience and leadership impressively. 

Thomas Vermaelen: 8 

The Belgian led from the front, showing admirable strength and desire. Vermaelen's energy and effort was top class, and his tackles and interceptions were pivotal in the Arsenal victory.

Bacary Sagna: 7.5

The Frenchman did not look out of place on the unfamiliar left flank. The renowned full back was a constant attacking contributor and provided his usual defensive security.

Alexandre Song: 8

  A stellar performance from the Cameroon international. He found himself with an inexperienced midfield yet enforced his leadership and experience with ease. Song constantly thwarted Udinese midfield advances and was also an attacking energy.

Emmanuel Frimpong: 6.5

 The Ghanian was an energetic and lively presence in the opening 45. Frimpong made some strong challenges and continued to evoke his promise and potential. He was Ssubstituted for Tomas Rosicky at halftime.

Aaron Ramsey: 7

An impressive and composed performance that still leaves aspects to be desired. The Wales captain provided some inch-perfect passes and at times was the attacking conductor for the Gunners but was guilty of dropping in an out of the encounter.

Theo Walcott: 7

  The Englishman's finish was sublime alongside his run; however, Walcott often left fans frustrated. The 22-year-old was unable to sufficiently impact the game when opportunities presented themselves and was guilty of failing to finish. Overall, a strong and necessary performance.

Gervinho: 8

  The Ivorian proved why Wenger was so eager to secure him and why OSC Lille valued him so highly. An energetic, skillful presence on the wing who was a constant threat. Inch-perfect pass to Robin van Persie ignited the sway in momentum.

Robin van Persie: 6.5:

  The Arsenal captain failed to adequately impact for Arsenal and had his chances to score but was unable. However, he did what every good striker does and finished from close range when the pressure was on.


Tomas Rosicky: 7

  The Czech playmaker provided energetic, strong performances in the second half, which was integral in Arsenal's eventual victory.

Andrei Arshavin: N/A

Armand Traore: N/A


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