Last Updated: 24/02/09 9:38pm
Arsenal 1 Roma 0. The Gunners will head to Italy with a slender lead, but it should have been more. Thanks for joining me tonight and I hope you enjoyed the game.
All Arsenal as we head towards a conclusion. Clichy flies forward and fires a stinging effort into Doni's grasp.
Almost there. Roma are pushing more men forward, but aren't busting a gut to find a leveller. Perhaps they are happy to head home with only a one-goal deficit to make up.
Ramsey has enjoyed a couple of nice touches since coming on. He will be benefiting from being involved on a night like this.
Nasri glides past two challenges and has a 25-yard effort deflected inches past the post. The resulting corner comes to nothing.
Van Persie almosy gets his head to a dipping Sagna cross, only to see Diamoutene get in his way at the vital moment.
Roma look short of ideas when they enter the final third and Arsenal have answers to all their questions.
Vela and Clichy toy with Roma down the left, but take too long getting rid of the ball and are eventually crowded out.
To answer Konstantin Maier's question, and for anyone else who cares, tonight's attendance is 60,003. Pretty much a full house.
The Italians are seeing a lot more of the ball now and have the Gunners on the backfoot. Riise breaks forward again on this occasion, but can't take the ball in his stride and sees it drift harmlessly behind.
Toure plays a dodgy back-pass towards Almunia, but the Spaniard deals with it well. Arsenal cannot afford to hand Roma an opportunity on a plate.
Testing cross from Sagna has Roma facing their own goal and unsure what to do. Nasri flies in among the statues, but fires wide of the post. He, more than anyone, deserves a goal.
Motta prevents Vela from running clear with a flying block. The Arsenal man would have been in on goal had Sagna's ball reached him.
Pizarro clips in a free-kick, which is dealt with easily by Gallas. Arsenal have looked watertight at the back, let's hope they stay that way.
Weary challenge from Denilson on Pizarro. After all Arsenal's hard work I hope their legs don't give out on them!
Vela and Van Persie combine brilliantly, but the latter has drifted offside. No doubt that Arsenal's front two have more about them following Bendtner's withdrawal.
Riise drills narrolwy wide after drifting into space. A warning to the Gunners that they need to find a second goal.
Dean Laird is happy to see the back of Bendtner. He wasn't great, while Vela only needs a glimmer of a chance and is more of a natural goalscorer.
Awful miss from Eboue. He had to score. He took an age to set himself after latching onto a loose ball, before firing wide. Should be game over.
Slight break in play as Toure requires treatment, but he is back on his feet. Vela is being readied.
James Fanning, In Ireland, has gazed into his crystal ball and feels a late flurry of goals coming on - with Vela expected to make an impact. Meanwhile, Elliott Bales, checking on the Gunners from Baghdad, feels Arsenal need to be more ruthless. I agree, as missed opportunities could come back to haunt them.
Roma really need to offer more if they are to take anything from this game. At this rate Arsenal look dead certs to make the quarter-final draw.
Nasri has looked every inch the class act he promised to be at Marseille and continues to dictate proceedings. I have been very impressed with the Frenchman tonight.
Slight lull as the pace calms down for a moment. Arsenal can turn it on as they please at present, though, and expect them to ignite again.
Hazel Louise is another trying to work and keep tabs on the scores. I say forget the Business Studies coursework and focus on this. Nothing is more important than football!
Great save from Doni to deny Diaby. The Arsenal man works space on teh edge of the box and lets fly. The ball was at a good height for the Roma keeper but he did well to beat it clear.
One-way traffic as the Gunners press forward again. Diaby leads the attack, with Nasri and Sagna offering support. Is a second goal on the cards?
Another opportunity goes begging as Bendtner looks to slide in Nasri but the Frencham can't reach the ball as he slides in at the back post. All Arsenal at the moment.
Great chance for Bendtner. Van Persie looks to pull the trigger but has the ball taken off his toe. It falls to Bendtner and he lifts over the top from eight yards. Will that prove costly.
Kemoi Reid feels victory tonight could be the catalyst the Gunners need heading into the end of season run-in. It might just be!
Good evening to Matty Dioulgeridis who is hoping Arsenal can find a second and then "shut up shop". I have every confidence that will prove to be the case.
Van Persie slices well wide when found in space by Clichy. Not his best effort, let's leave it at that!
Toure clears from the head of Baptista. The ball breaks to Totti, who feeds Taddei, but Sagna is on hand to clear the danger. Hectic end-to-end stuff at the moment!
Positive break from the hosts comes to nothing. Red shirst were piling forward, but Diaby couldn't pick one out. Roma will open up as the game goes on and Arsenal must make sure they make their chances count.
Jason Marck, in Chicago, is another claiming to be working while tuning in. Don't bother with that, put your feet up and enjoy. Tell the boss this is more important. Meanwhile, Renn Blankenberg, sees a second on the cards for the Gunners. Here's hoping!
This is ridiculous. We have kicked off with two Arsenal players not on the field. Gallas and Toure were late out and play resumed without them. Toure has been cautioned for trying to enter the field without permission.
Ben Kararo believes Arsenal need another one to make the game safe, and he might be right. Roma have the quality to find an away goal, while the Gunners will not want to play for 0-0 in the Stadio Olimpico in the second leg.
You can also bet in-play at skybet.com. Arsenal are 1/4 to take the win, with Roma slipping to 10/1. You can 13/2 on 3-0, which may be worth a flutter.
Remember you can contact me direct at Chris.Burton@bskyb.com with your thoughts throughout the second half.
Arsenal 1 Roma 0. Van Persie's penalty seperates the two teams at the break. Much deserved and hopefull the Gunners can build on that advantage after the break.
Good evening to John Bradshaw in Leeds. He is hoping Arsenal can push on and claim a comfortable 3-1 win. In terms of what the Gunners have been lacking of late, I think they have been missing a spark. Nasri has given them that tonight in a free role, while Diaby is strong and powerful and can take charge in midfield.
Loria lives dangerously with no support behind him when he dallies on the ball30-yards from goal. Van Persie comes close to picking his pocket, but the Roma man recovers just in time.
Perrotta is picked out by a great ball from Taddei but fails to make the most of his opportunity. Unmarked at the back post he nods back across the face of goal instead of trying to score himself. Wrong option as there were no black shirts close enough to him to profit from his knock-back.
De Rossi slams into Nasri and sends the Frenchman sprawling. His sees yellow for the reckless challenge and will now miss the second leg.
The Gunners are running riot at the moment, with Roma well and truly on the rack. Van Persie is given offside on this occasion, but Eboue and Nasri appear to have endless energy as they continue to spring up all over the field and open the Italians up.
Mention to Gary Evans to wrote in claiming he feared Arsenal would be held 0-0 moments before the goal. Safe to say he is delighted to have been proven wrong!
Almost two for the Gunners as Van Persie skips past Loria and squares for Bendtner. Motta gets an important toe to the ball to see it clear, while Van Persie calls for a second spot-kick after having his shirt tugged by loria. Nothing given.
Will Arsenal push for more or sit back on their lead and keep things tight. That has to be a risk and surely attack is the best means of defence?
GOAL - VAN PERSIE. Roma's delaying tactics have no impact as Van Persie drills a low effort into the bottom corner. Doni goes the wrong way and Arsenal have the lead they deserve.
Taddei picks the right ball, after breaking down the right, as he squares to Totti, but the Roma skipper lifts a badly sliced effort miles over the bar.
Taddei is caught offside as he looks to break in behind Sagna. The Brazilian has had a quiet night and does not look like he is enjoying himself.
Sagna's driven cross from the right somehow eludes a host of bodies in the box and runs out for a goal kick. It just needed a touch and Arsenal could have been in business.
Clichy lifts a cross into the grateful hands of Doni when well placed. Van Persie was free at the back post and waves his arms in frustration.
Nasri is looking for the ball at every opportunity, and is being given it most of time. He is popping up everywhere and Roma don't know how to deal with him.
Cunning step-over from Perrotta almost frees Totti, but Gallas gets in a vital interception. Baptista, a man who enjoyed a loan spell at the Emirates in 2006, then drills a tame effort high into the stands.
De Rossi is felled by a robust challenge from Clichy. Arsenal are fired up for this and it must only be a matter of time before their efforts pay dividends.
Riise clatters into Sagna as the two full-backs go toe-to-toe. The former Liverpool man has barely had a touch so far and has been penned back into his own half of the field.
Diaby is very Vieira-esque when in full flow, but he is yet to take a game by the scruff of the neck in a mannger befiting his fellow Frenchman, and former Arsenal favourite.
Doni pushes his luck as he takes a touch on Mexes' back-pass. He gets away with it, but Bendtner was right in his face by the time he cleared.
Arsenal move the ball from side to side across the edge of the box and Diaby lifts a 30-yard drive narrowly over the top when the ball breaks into open field.
For all the Gunners' eye-catching football they aren't really troubling Doni and need to add some urgency to their play.
Arsenal settle for a spell of knocking the ball around among themselves in midfield. It has their opponents working and could pay dividends as the game draws on.
Nasri fires inches past the post when allowed far too space on the edge of the box. Doni didn't move and would have well beaten had the effort been on target.
Lloyd Hamilton in Oz has been in touch offering his support to the Arsenal boys. He is hoping for a comfortable win and no injuries. A mention must also go to Laurence Wise who has informed me that Wenger always looks worried and there is little point trying to read his expressions. I see his point!
Clever from Totti as he catches the Arsenal defence napping. He lobs a quick free-kick over the top and Loria is disappointed to loft his volley over the top. Another good sight of goal for the visitors who are coming into their own at last.
Motta comes as close as we have come to a goal. He breaks forward from the back and unleashes a wonderful strike from 25-yards. It appears to be heading for the top corner until Almunia gets a telling touch. Great save and the resulting corner comes to nothing.
Diaby finds Van Persie with a great ball over the top, but the Dutchman can't bring the ball down. His touch just bounces away from him and Doni can pounch.
Toure sneaks in at the back post from a Van Persie free-kcik but can't pick out a team-mates, while Diaby almost finds Bendtner bursting into the box as Roma fail to clear their lines.
Eboue leads a counter-attack and is hauled down by Mexes - who goes into the book. The Arsenal man had options left and right and didn't need to hold onto the ball for as long as he did.
Mexes is comfortable enough on the ball to carry it out of defence and launches a Roma attack. Again, though, the Italian outfit are unable to keep the ball for long.
Arsenal are making steady progress until they get to the edge of the box, then the final ball lets them down or a heavy touch surrenders possession.
Bendtner is spending a lot of time on the left. Arsenal appear to have set up with Van Persie the only man in a central role, with three men supporting from deep.
Another opportunity for Arsenal falls to Nasri. Clichy swings over a pin-point cross, but his fellow Frenchman glances narrowly wide from six-yards out.
Totti has been surprisingly wasteful so far. Everyone knows what he is capable of, though, so Arsenal cannot afford to give him any time or space.
Nasri is seeing a lot of the ball and looks to be in the mood tonight. Arsenal are dominating, while Roma can't get out of their own half at the moment.
First sight of goal goes to Bendtner. Nasri escapes down the right and pulls the ball back to the Danish striker. He has acres of space inside the box, but hsi first touch is woeful and the chance goes begging.
Sagna has the opportunity to throw an early cross into the box, but his delivery hits the first man. The Gunners had plenty of men forward.
Arsenal appear to have settled quickly and are knocking the ball around in positive fashion. Roma, meanwhile, have yet to get going.
Nasri appears to have been given a bit more freedom tonight and is not sticking to his left-sided starting post. He can drift across the pitch and influence play in dangerous areas.
Nasri has a run at Motta, and earns a throw deep in Roma territory. He could be the man to provide the flair to carve the Italians open.
Early touch for Almunia as he claims a misplaced through-ball. The Spaniard will be hoping for a quiet evening.
Positive burst from Diaby comes to nothing. He will be charged with bombing forward at every given opportunity and supporting the frontmen.
Ben Keraro, in the US of A, thinks Arsenal have looked blunt of late, but is tipping them to find their cutting edge in a 2-1 win.
Mike Warfield is going 1-0 to the Gunners, while Fred Pragnell goes 2-0. We are ready for the off, so we about to find out who is right!
Krishnan Iyer, in touch from India, believes tonight's game is too hard to call, with either side capable of taking the spoils. To answer his query - Arshavin is not in action tonight as he featured earlier in the competition for Zenit and is cup-tied as a result.
Stephen Peel, keeping tabs on events all the way from Canada, is hoping that Arsenal can break their habit of grinding out 0-0 draws. I second that as I want to be entertained tonight, not sent to sleep.
Paul Bracken is another confident Gunner to drop me line. He goes 2-0 to the hosts, with Nasri bagging a brace - just like he did against Man Utd!
Matty Richards, in Wales, believes tonight's game is crucial to Arsenal's season. He could be right! He is, however, backing them to claim a hard-fought 2-1 success.
Richard Kinlocke, working hard in Jamaica, has also been in touch. He believes Arsenal are set up to take a draw, with their defensive bench suggesting they want to keep things tight.
Hashim Ismail, tuning in from Pakistan, is quickest out of the blocks tonight and is backing the Gunners to prevail, with Gallas and Van Persie doing the damage.
Roma team: Doni, Motta, Mexes, Loria, Riise, Perrotta, De Rossi, Brighi, Taddei, Totti, Baptista. Subs: Arthur, Pizarro, Vucinic, Gomez, Diamoutene, Tonetto, Montella.
Arsenal team: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Toure, Clichy, Eboue, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, Bendtner, Van Persie. Subs: Fabianski, Vela, Ramsey, Song, Djourou, Gibbs, Merida.
You can also bet in-play during the game at skybet.com. Arsenal start the night as 10/11 favourites, with Roma available at 7/2 and the draw at 11/5. Robin van Persie is 5/1 to open the scoring for the Gunners, while Roma skipper Francesco Totti is 7/1 to break the deadlock.
How do you see the game going? Will the Gunners take the game to their Italian opponents? Can they take a positive into the second leg? Will Roma be able to snatch an away goal? Let me know your thoughts.
Remember you can air your opinions throughout this first leg contest by contacting me direct at Chris.Burton@bskyb.com.
Roma, though, are no mugs and have rediscovered their form of late. A disappointing start to the season has been laid to rest, with only one defeat in nine outings helping them clamber back up into sixth spot in the Serie A standings.
With Arsenal continuing to frustrate in the league, will Europe offer a welcome distraction to Arsene Wenger's men? The Gunners made it to the quarter-finals last season and will have their sights set on the last-eight once again.