Arsenal Sprout in Brussels

Arsenal travelled to Belgium on Wednesday to face an Anderlecht side struggling in Europe and scraped through with an injury-time winner to take the game 1-2.

The win takes the Londoners five points ahead of both Anderlecht and Galatasaray and three behind Dortmund.

The home side dominated in the early exchanges, pushing Arsenal back and forcing them to press which left them open to the counter. Despite a number of jabs, the Gunners failed to land a killer blow and the two went into the break all square.

The second half started in much the same fashion with Anderlecht running at their opponents while Sanchez remained the only one in red looking to force the issue. On 71 minutes, Andy Najar rose above the defence to head in a cross from Anderlecht’s shining star Dennis Praet to make it 1-0. Time was ticking away and Arsenal continued to take the punishment rather than pushing the opponents onto the ropes and trying to mount a challenge of their own. Birthday “boy” Arsene Wenger introduced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the frustrated Lukas Podolski. Suddenly the momentum had shifted.

 

With one minute of normal time remaining Calum Chambers floated in a perfect cross for Keiran Gibbs who obliged by opening Arsenal’s account with a pin point left footed volley. Podolski then provided the knock-out blow when he found the ball at his feet courtesy of some scrappy defending and smashed home to win it in stoppage time.

Clear daylight between themselves and the chasing pack will provide some degree of comfort going into the next game week for an Arsenal side plagued by injury. Anderlecht have now only managed two wins from their last 34 Champions League encounters, not having finished above bottom of the group in 14 years, so they will be playing for pride more than anything else in the remaining fixtures.