The Gunners have completed test 2 of 3 tricky away games, having thrashed Blackburn and last night having drawn to Dynamo in the CL. While before the match I would have considered a point in the Ukraine a successful trip, having watched the match now twice I have to reconsider and adjudge the Gunners have come just short of passing the Ukraine test.
Arsenal started the match brightly, as they controlled the tempo of the match and created 3 clear cut chances in the first half, wasted by Van Persie, Ade and Cesc. Defensively I felt that the gunners had a good balance, with Song playing the holding midfielder role especially well. He made countless tackles and was very effective in breaking up any brewing Kyiv attack. Kyiv never posed an attacking threat in the first half.
The second half the Gunners seemed to take the foot off the gas, after having started the half with a decent tempo. They would be made to rue the chances missed in the first half, as a dubious penalty was awarded to Kyiv for a push by Sagna on Vukojevic in the 62nd minute.
Wenger rang the changes in pursuit of an equaliser bring on Bendter, Eboue & Vela in replacement of Song, Sagna & Van Persie respectively. The substitutions never really seemed effective, as Kyiv seemed more dangerous hitting Arsenal on the counter attack.
Nevertheless the pressure applied by the Gunners would prove too much for Kyiv, as Theo found some space to play the ball in behind the defense for Gallas to scrape into the net at the far post.
Relief all around! At the end of the match, the Gunners were made to sweat & fight to earn a draw in a match they really should have won (comfortably). While I am a bit disappointed with the result, I do hope that the players can learn from the Ukraine experience, by being more lethal in front of goal.
Next up, Bolton away. On the back of all the travelling the Arsenal players have made over the past 2 weeks, I expect Wenger to play some of the fringe players (Vela, Bendtner & Ramsey) in order to rest the likes of Walcott, RVP & Cesc. Should make for a tight game at the Reebok.
Prediction: Bolton 1 - Arsenal 2 (second half goals from Adebayor & Bendtner).