Arsene Wenger made just one change to the Arsenal starting line up that beat Burnley on Saturday, with Aaron Ramsey replacing Mathieu Flamini. So with Mikel Arteta having not been available for the away tie in Belgium, Arsenal were hoping to build on our renewed confidence and make this game a lot less nerve wracking than the last one.
But we were nearly behind within 10 minutes after Welbeck lost the ball and Anderlecht sped up the other end and nearly embarrassed Szczesny with a deflected shot. The Belgian champions were looking threatening on the counter while we were a bit sloppy in possession.
Ramsey then nearly gave us an early lead after some great play in the box by Welbeck but the Welshman was denied by a desperate sliding block. And while the Gunners were starting to dominate the ball and create chances, Anderlecht also looked sharp and brought a great save from Szczesny after 16 minutes.
A great run and cross from the right by Chambers found Alexis who was explosive and mesmeric in the box but his shot from a narrow angle nit the post. Minutes later the Chilean latched onto a great through ball from Ramsey and turned it round the corner for Welbeck who was brought down, giving Arteta the chance to score from the spot.
And that soon became two after Alexis’ amazing run led to a free kich which he hit into the wall before rifling in the rebound. Pretty much all his own work from the Arsenal half that one. The lad is on fire. And while the lead was comfortable it was not insurmountable, especially with Anderlecht still getting at our back four.
The Arsenal boys were starting to enjoy themselves and produce some really good football, with the Ox showing blistering pace and nearly finding Welbeck in the centre for a third being a prime example. No more goals before the break and with Dortmund leading and goal difference perhaps coming into it, it was a shame that we hadn’t completely sealed the game.
It looked like we determined to do that right from the restart though. The Ox nearly finished a lovely flowing move within minutes and Welbeck was getting close. We had been working hard and pressing without the ball very well and another example of that led to the third with a dynamite run and finish from Chamberlain.
Anderlecht then got a bit of their luck back from the first game, scoring a goal which should have been ruled offside, while Arteta picked up a knock and Flamini came on with half an hour left. And our defensive problems were highlighted again when Monreal as the last man gave away a penalty and all of a sudden we were facing a very nervy last 20 minutes.
Podolski and Rosicky came on for Welbeck and the Ox but it was the visitors applying pressure and we couldn’t get any control. And just like two weeks ago there was to be late drama as Mitrovic beat Mertesacker to level going in to extra time. So although we should still qualify, Arsenal can forget about winning the group.