AFTER THREE successive wins, Arsenal's Europa League winning run stalled to a 0-0 against Red Star Belgrade at the Emirates stadium, however the Gunners' home unbeaten sequence did at least continue to sixteen games in all competitions. This match was high energy stuff from both sides, but the finishing and clinical quality that it craved was sadly lacking. Both sides had chances, Jack Wilshere was almost back to his imperious best and only a last minute clearance from Damien Le Tallec denied him getting the opener.
At the other end, Matt Macey had to be alert when threatened, the Gunners' keeper diverting the ball onto his woodwork from Vujadin Savid. Richmond Boakye spurned two gilt edged opportunities to give the visitors the lead. Arsenal introduced Eddie Nketiah for the last 20 minutes, but even the new Arsenal cult hero was unable to replicate his Carabao Cup heroics against Norwich City.
With FC Koln beating Bate Borisov, the Gunners qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League with two games to spare. At the final whistle, Arsene Wenger accepted that the visitors made a strong start and also praised his side and insisted that he will continue to rotate in this competition.
Speaking to The Voice Newspaper, Wenger said "I think they started stronger than us, they played very well tonight. They played at a high pace, they were always dangerous on the breaks and they defended very well. In the second half I felt we dominated possession much more, played more in one half, but we lacked a bit of quality in the final ball, vision to find the right space and overall I must say it is a fair 0-0.
"We made ten points from four games, so overall I believe that it is good if I can combine both. You could see tonight it was a very intense game and with the number of games we play we want to play in every single competition.
"I think yes I want to continue that at the moment, " said Wenger. The Arsenal boss was pleased do see Wilshere exerting his midfield influence, and despite his saying that he was fit for the England squad for their upcoming Wembley friendlies against Brazil and Germany, Gareth Southgate omitted Wilshere from his squad. Wenger remained optimistic on Wilshere's future inclusion for club and country.
"He needs these kinds of games to come back to his best level and what Jack needs is to be injury free for a long period until the end of the season and get games like that. Then I don’t believe he could have been involved (for England), he’s not, so maybe if he keeps fitness he will be next time," continued Wenger.
Arsenal next travel to the Etihad stadium for their crunch Premier League clash against table toppers Manchester City on Sunday.
c/o The Voice Newspaper