Arsenal win could mean signings

Boss Wenger hoping to bring in new faces after European boost

Published: August 25, 2011

Champions League Play Off
Udinese 1, Arsenal 2 (Arsenal win 3-1 on agg)

ARSENE Wenger said he was “proud” of his players after Arsenal came from a goal down to beat Udinese last night (Wednesday) and book their place in the group stages of the Champions League.

Second-half strikes from Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott saw the Gunners win 2-1 on the night at the Stadio Friuli, sealing a 3-1 victory on aggregate.

After watching his side reach Europe’s premier club football competition for the 14th successive season, Wenger said: “It’s a relief, of course, because we didn’t want to go out.

“I’m proud of the way we played, especially in the second half.

“The team proved that when they are under pressure they can respond with football.

“They kept their belief in the way we want to play.”

Wenger said the triumph will help him bring in some last-minute signings.

“Of course, it’s a bit easier, but it’s not easy to find players of the calibre we’ve lost,” he said. “I cannot lie and say we will sign a player tomorrow, but we are working very hard to do so.”

The dangerous Antonio Di Natale gave Udinese a half-time lead with a well-taken looping header.

To their credit, however, Wenger’s side handled the heat and the pressure well in northern Italy as they battled back to earn a place in today’s (Thursday) draw.

The all-important equaliser was down to the sheer determination of Gervinho. He collected the ball on the left, drove into the box and picked out van Persie, who had the simple task of side-footing the ball into the back of the net.

The turning point came just short of the hour mark when Wojciech Szczesny dived to his right to brilliantly tip Di Natale’s powerful penalty over the crossbar.

The comeback was completed in the 69th minute when Walcott collected a pass from Bacary Sagna, ran half the length of the pitch and confidently tucked the ball home.

It was just what the England international needed after squandering a much easier chance on the half-hour mark.