Date: 28th August 2008 at 12:45pm
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So our passage into the Group stages is assured again and thoughts turn to who we would like in the draw this afternoon. (Myself and Lord Lowe have taken a fancy to Kyiv due to the quality of the women!) Interestingly, given Platini`s promise to superficially address the proletarianisation of the Qualifying rounds, we look to have some Champions League virgins in our midst this year. After Saturday`s miserable defeat it was important to get at least a little bit of good feeling around the club again. Speaking with people in the Tavern pre match confirmed that most are baffled by Wenger`s current transfer activity (one comes in, four go out) and this is perhaps the first time Arsene has faced ontological evidence of mass anxiety. Certainly this is the first time I have ever really doubted him or regarded our transfer activity so fetishistically. The consensus of opinion seemed to be that Wenger`s plenipotentiary status with the board has seen him act too frugally in the face of the asset stripping of the squad. Nevertheless, a few jars of Guinness gave myself, Lord Lowe and Mark to put the world to rights on that one before a pretty low intensity match.

Cesc Fabregas was hastily ushered back into the starting line up, as Toure was given a much needed breather and Adebayor also had some bench time to reflect on an ordinary start to the season for him. Without wishing to become overly tautological, I worry about Fabregas` fitness for the season, missing pre season usually culminates in a player struggling for match fitness for a long time. Twente were shorn of their two main strikers, which pretty much put paid to any slim hopes they may have entertained of an upset, nor did they really look willing to try, settling for a damage limitation exercise, packing the midfield and trying to deny us space. After an uninspiring opening twenty minutes, Arsenal`s frontline sprung into action when van Persie played in Walcott who fired over the bar. It was a mere warning of what was to come, two minutes later, Walcott found van Persie this time, who nudged the ball left to Samir Nasri, Nas sold two defenders a beautiful dummy, shifting the ball onto his left foot before finding his effort deflected into the net. Another goal and another fine half from Samir will do wonders for his confidence. Though, much like Torres, his scoring seems to be confined too much to home games and at one end of the stadium in particular. Come on Samir; spread them out a bit, eh? In all seriousness, I`m tempted to liken his fast integration with Sagna last season, but upcoming away matches at Blackburn and Bolton will see his acclimatisation tested in earnest. Bendtner continued to impress me, though he appeared to prove my suspicion that, while his intention is always correct, special sometimes, the execution isn`t there yet. But that`s fine with me, execution can improve on the training ground, you can`t teach somebody inspiration. Unfortunately he came n for a lot of stick from the increasingly spoiled idiots that go the Grove nowadays, in the second half he was ironically cheered for completing a pass. Fortunately, he managed to shut these imbeciles up with a goal soon after.

Arsenal stepped up a gear; as Walcott, given time and space, began to crucify Edson Braafheid with his pace, latching onto Denilson`s ball into the right channel, before clipping the ball back for van Persie. Unbelievably with all the time in the world afforded him, van Persie`s trajectory was off and he curled wide. Had he had less time to think about his finish, he surely would have scored. Delicacy and poise can be excellent servants, but lousy masters when allowed to govern a player`s brain. Seven minutes into the second half and Arsenal killed the tie. The ball looped up in the right hand side of the penalty area, Bendtner controlled it beautifully, before steering a shot goalwards, Mihaylov beat it out as far as William Gallas who bundled home his second goal of the tie. Twente had well and truly given up the ghost and Arsenal were allowed to embellish the score line further with a youthful tarnish, Bendtner and Walcott played a deft one two, before Walcott ran through on goal and stroked it into the corner of the net with consummate aplomb. He was fortunate that he did score with Eboue standing in front of an open goal to his right. With the likes of Eboue cracking out the party tricks, the Gunners were in cruise control and the back four were innocent bystanders. The most convoluted goal in history added yet more sheen to the score in injury time. Adebayor played Denilson into the area, who backheeled the ball to Bendtner in the six yard area, Nicky B decided that was quite enough farting about in the area thank you and lashed home from close range. A comfortable evening which allowed us to get our shooting boots back on and build some much needed confidence. But this result doesn`t begin to paper over the cracks in our squad; there are harder challenges to come than this this season. We left the ground aware that Luckypool had gone into extra time, as we made our way to Finsbury Park tube station, we ducked our head into just about every pub en route, settling in the Twelve Pins in anticipation of a penalty shoot out. But of course the Scousers lucked out again before I even had the chance to finish urinating. How do they do it?LD.