That was Sterling stuff. We were up against it tonight, the stinking tabloid hacks were sharpening their knives, we had a few injuries, we were away from home against a very strong side. A lot of people wanted us to fail tonight and we didn't, we showed a lot of strength and heart to come back from a goal deficit at the break, and proving worthy winners in the end.
Jenkinson remained at right back with Sagna at left back, Frimpong started in the middle of the midfield in the holding role with Song and Ramsey alongside him, Walcott and the immense Gervinho flanked RVP. The first half was a cracking spectacle, truly end to end stuff. Gervinho looked dangerous on the breaking, weaving this way and that, Theo's pace scared them. Di Natale was a theat, his movement excellent and he clearly has the snout for a goal. Udinese also had a lot of pace in wide areas, Sagna did not look comfortable in the left back slot.
Udinese took the lead just after Gervinho had teed up Theo for a great chance which was expertly saved by their keeper. A neat cross in was headed precisely into the top corner and in off the post by Di Natale, Szczesny had no chance, Djourou could have been closer, the midfield also were not protecting the centre backs adequately. We saw the half out and 1-0 down it was at the break, on came Rosicky for Frimpong, Song moving deeper to where he should always be.
The equaliser came early on in the second half, Gervinho skinned his man, cut back a delightful side footed cross, RVP did the rest. The second goal came courtesy of a great bit of pace from Theo, a lovely touch inside and a great finish. 2-1 and the game was done. In between those goals the useless referee had given the most ludicrous of penalties for the most accidental of handballs by Thomas Vermaelen, the extra UEFA officials proving their complete uselessness. The outstanding Szczesny made a terrific one handed save from Di Natale's kick, a key moment.
There were many other incidents, some pathetic diving from the Italian side, a nasty deliberate elbow that was missed completely by the pointless and useless extra UEFA men and several great pieces of defending from Tomas Rosicky. Rosicky's overall contribution was key, and the change in the midfield was so key because Song is not good enough in a more offensive position, he simply has to be told to stick just in front of the back four.
There were a lot of positives from the game tonight. Szczesny is looking better game by game, a brilliant goalkeeper already and he will only improve. Jenkinson really impressed for one so inexperienced, he concentrates well and never stopped running. The centre backs were decent, Sagna struggled at times positionally which is to be expected. Ramsey was tidy and grew as the game went on, Song was a player of two halves and the less said about the first half the better. Gervinho was the stand out performer, it was his cutting edge that turned the tie around for us. RVP and Theo put in solid shifts. Overall a great night's work, now for some signings Arsene!