It was a fantastic first half hour of football for the watching Arsenal fans as the visiting CSKA Moscow surprised everyone by coming out fighting right from the kick off. Arsene Wenger admitted that this was not what he was expecting. “I think CSKA Moscow is a good team with a very good technical level, who are very quick going forward. Every time they won the ball, they gave us many problems in the first half. That’s all I can say. They have a very good technical level and are very mobile, very intelligent with their use of the ball as well. They played in a very offensive style. We are not used to seeing that at the Emirates in the Premier League. Teams come here, play in their half and wait for us. They had a go at us and it was uncomfortable.”
But Arsenal responded well and gave as good as they got. The Russians coming forward left them a bit exposed at the back and Ramsey put us ahead after just 8 minutes with an excellent volley, but with both sides still going hammer and tongs the Gunners were shocked when Golovin equalised just seven minutes later with an inch perfect free kick that left Ospina no chance at all. Wenger said he was getting a little worried at that point when he was asked how he was feeling. “That it’s unfortunate because it’s not what we wanted. I wanted to see how we responded to that. It was a good challenge, so it was good to see how we responded to it. I think we were in an uncomfortable position against Milan at home when they scored the first goal. Every time here, we found the answer in the game.”
After half an hour though we were 4-1 up with some brilliant moves from Ozil, Ramsey and Lacazette especially, and Wenger obviously had some things to say to the players at half time to try and calm things down and protect our lead. “It was a difficult game because they looked very good going forward and came out very quickly every time we lost the ball.” Wenger said. “They took advantage of every mistake we made to go forward. I felt that it was a spectacular first half played at a high pace, but also an uncomfortable one for me because they looked dangerous as well. I’d always hoped that we could score, but I was also worried that they could score as well.
“We played against a side who was technically very good, but we had scored some great goals in the first half and at half-time we were 4-1 up. Then the target was not to concede any more and, if possible, add another one. We did the first part of the job in the second half but not the second part of the job. On the other hand, it will help us to completely focus in the second game by not thinking it’s job done. We know it’s not over. We have to go there with the right focus and try to win the game.”
Although there were no more goals in the second half we were definitely trying to get one more, with Lacazette and especially Ramsey getting very close to notching a hat-trick, but it simply wasn’t to be. But I don’t think any Arsenal fans will be unhappy with the scoreline ahead of our return in Russia next Thursday.