LONDON, England, August 28 – A brace from Aaron Ramsey earned Arsenal a 2-0 win over Fenerbahce on Tuesday that confirmed their place in the Champions League group phase for the 16th consecutive season.
Leading 3-0 from last week’s first leg, in which Ramsey also scored, Arsene Wenger’s men finished the job in unfussy fashion at the Emirates Stadium thanks to a goal in each half from the in-form Welsh midfielder.
It was a third straight victory for Arsenal since the shock of their 3-1 loss to Aston Villa on the opening day of the Premier League season, but a hamstring injury to Lukas Podolski took some of the gloss off the evening.
Wenger said the German would be out for around three weeks, while Ramsey went off late on with a groin complaint and Jack Wilshere also came in for some heavy treatment on his troublesome ankle.
“Overall we scored five goals and didn’t concede. We’re in the group stage and that’s what we wanted,” said the Arsenal manager, whose side host north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
“We played a heavy price on the injury front because we lost Podolski. I don’t know how bad Ramsey is. I don’t know how Wilshere responds to an ankle problem.
“He (Wilshere) looks all right. But Podolski is definitely out for 21 days and Ramsey we have to check how severe his groin is tomorrow (Wednesday).”
The first-leg result meant Fenerbahce had not travelled in hope, and they must now await the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision on their appeal against a two-year UEFA ban for match-fixing, which will be delivered on Wednesday.
“I congratulate our opponents and wish them best of luck in the Champions League,” said visiting coach Ersun Yanal.
“We created some chances in the game, but we had a difficult score in the first game.”
Arsenal had an early fright when Raul Meireles deflected Bacary Sagna’s attempted clearance back towards goal and Wojciech Szczesny had to produce a reflex save, but the tie was wrapped up inside 25 minutes.
Podolski sent Theo Walcott into the Fenerbahce box and although he was dispossessed, Caner Erkin’s sliding challenge sent the ball straight to Ramsey, who swept home from 12 yards.
Fenerbahce goalkeeper Volkan Demirel prevented Olivier Giroud from increasing Arsenal’s advantage with a sharp save, before Szczesny displayed his alertness at the other end by touching Emmanuel Emenike’s drive onto the post.
The aggregate scoreline robbed the game of any real drama, but there was a moment of potential significance early in the second period when Podolski had to be stretchered off with a hamstring problem.
Wenger can scarcely afford to lose more first-team players, and the appearance of sole close-season signing Yaya Sanogo from the bench only served to highlight his lack of options in the forward line.
Briefly, there was solace on the pitch.
Demirel produced a finger-tip save to deny Santi Cazorla and Walcott bent a free-kick against the crossbar, before Ramsey made it 2-0 in the 72nd minute with an insouciant side-foot volley from Kieran Gibbs’s cross.
However, he walked off the pitch and onto the substitutes’ bench in injury time, and with Podolski also out, Wenger will face renewed calls to improve his squad in the closing days of the transfer window.