By Chris Wright
The relief was almost tangible as Arsenal began life after Cesc with a win last night, beating Udinese 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League play-off at the Emirates thanks to a fourth-minute Theo Walcott goal.
However, the narrow victory wasn’t overly convincing, with the Italians going close on several occasions – particularly Antonio Di Natale, who clipped the woodwork twice and forced a decent save out of Wojciech Szczczczczczcney in the first-half.
It’s probably fair to say that Udinese deserved a draw out of the game at the very least and that next week’s second leg is far from a formality as far as the Gunners are concerned.
Andrey Arshavin and Gunnersaurus share a tender moment in the tunnel before kick-off
Theo Walcott runs off to celebrate after nipping in front of Gervinho to volley home Aaron Ramsey’s perfect cross at the near post
Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu trips Tomas Rosicky
Mauricio Isla hits the deck after being clipped by Kieran Gibbs and Alex Song
Kwadwo Asamoah and Aaron Ramsey tussle for the ball
It just won’t come down for Kieran Gibbs as Emmanuel Agyemang watches with interest
Due to a touchline ban, Arsene Wenger is forced to watch the game from the Director’s Box at the Emirates. The Arsenal manager is now facing further disciplinary action after UEFA found that he communicated with the bench despite being warned not to
Theo Walcott attempts to nudge the ball past Mehdi Benatia
Aaron Ramsey attempts to get the block in as Mauricio Isla picks his pass
Tomas Rosicky gets a shot away with Danilo Larangeira and Emmanuel Agyemang closing in
Carl Jenkinson closes his eyes and hopes for the best in an aerial battle with Mauricio Isla
Gervinho rides the challenge of Emmanuel Agyemang
Theo Walcott rues a missed chance
Thomas Vermaelen, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey stand and deliberate over a free-kick
Danilo Larangeira looks on as Joel Ekstrand closes down Gervinho
Alex Song sends Antonio Di Natale tumbling to the turf
Arsenal assistant manager Pat Rice wills Emmanuel Frimpong on as he makes his way down the wing
Aaron Ramsey, Carl Jenkinson and Bacary Sagna applaud the home support after the final whistle