Arsenal have one foot in the Champions League group stage after easily seeing off Fenerbahce in the first leg of their playoff in Istanbul.
The Gunners successfully established a 3 goal cushion going into the second leg in less than a week’s time, thanks to second-half goals from Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.
After losing 3-1 to Aston Villa in their opening game of the 2013/14 Premier League season, a goalless first-half raised tension among the traveling fans who have ceased every opportunity to question Arsene Wenger’s inability to add to the squad.
And with injuries Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and later Laurient Kosielny, fans had feared being left out of this year’s Champions League campaign.
But a solid second-half display from the north London club helped dispelled the anxiety and dealt the Turkish side’s hope of making the group stage of the Champions League a heavy blow.
“It was not the ideal start to the Premier League but we bounced back tonight- we have been criticised but we remained switched on. I’m feeling confident at the moment,” Ramsey said after the match.
Fenerbahce, who would know their fate in a match-fixing case a day after Tuesday, allowed the Gunners plenty of possession in the first-half but the visitors failed to capitalise on some glaring goal-scoring chances.
Some purposeful attacking football after the break led to an ever impressive Ramsey producing a pass behind the hosts’ defence that led to the opener 6 minutes after the restart.
Theo Walcott flashed the ball across the face of goal to find Kieran Gibbs charging in at the far post, who turned home a sliding effort.
Welshman Ramsey let fly a low shot in the 64 minute that should have been stopped by goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, but instead slipped through his outstretched palm and trundles into the bottom corner of the net.
Mousa Sow wasted a rare opportunity to draw level, heading over from former Liverpool and Chelsea midfielder Raul Mereiles’s cross.
Instead, the gap between Fenerbahce and an equalizer widened further when Michal Kadlec bundled into the back of Walcott in the area, thereby conceding a penalty.
Giroud stepped up to confidently dispatch the spot kick and send Demirel the wrong way.
Kadlek and substitute Emmanuel Emenike came close to pulling one back for the Istanbul side in the final ten minutes, but for some superb safe from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to preserve a clean sheet for Wenger’s men ahead of Tuesday night’s return leg.
“Three great goals and it is a great result now going to the Emirates on Tuesday night,” Walcott said.