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Arsenal Edge Out Udinese In Champions League Opener

17/8/2011
Arsenal began life without Cesc Fabregas with a narrow win over Italian side Udinese at the Emirates, with Theo Walcott’s early strike handing them a slender 1-0 advantage ahead of the return leg.

Missing a raft of players through injuries and suspension, Walcott settled Arsenal nerves in the fourth minute after meeting Aaron Ramsey’s cross at the near post and adroitly flicking the ball past Samir Handanovic.

However, as the game wore on the Serie A side settled and by full-time they will certainly have felt aggrieved not to have taken something from the game after Antonio Di Natale twice struck the woodwork in the first half.

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny also had to be alert in the second half to palm away a goal-bound Di Natale free-kick, while Mauricio Isla and Pablo Armero also had chances for the visitors as they dominated possession in the second half.

Despite being on the back-foot, the Gunners had two glorious chances to make it 2-0 on the night and both fell to Walcott, with the pacy winger first shooting tamely and off-target when one-on-one and then forcing an incredible save from Handanovic.

A second goal would have been harsh on Udinese, who will feel that they are definitely still in the tie ahead of the return leg next week, especially given that the win came at a cost to Arsenal with injuries to both Johan Djourou and Kieran Gibbs.
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