Beating Milan 3-0 at the Emirates is an amazing feat. Beating them under the pressure to beat them is another thing altogether and getting so close to overturning such a big deficit is a valiant effort to say the least. It was an uphill task in the first place and it had “frustrating game” written all over it.
We were depleted and the only team we could play was the one that we all presumed we’d play:
Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Jenkinson / Gibbs
Song – Rosicky
Walcott – Oxlade – Gervinho
It made sense.
The stadium was electric with hope. It was focused, excited and the crowd had belief. The belief increased after 6 minutes and beyond everyone’s expectations, Koscielny nodded in from a corner. 1-0 to the Arsenal and so early on, game on friend. Milan were potent in the previous round and a lot of that was due to our inability to perform. They do have players capable of scoring at any time and Ibra was trying his best to ensure Milan got one goal, a killer punch, but our defence was solid and credit to Szcznesy for some good saves.
But then it was 2.
We’d been attacking well and a marauding run by Walcott ended with a cut back which was only cleared to Rosicky who scored his second goal in the last three games. Bang wallop in the goal.
Wave after wave gave the crowd hope and before half time, an excellent run through the defence saw Oxlade being brought down in the area and after some deliberation, the ref pointed to the spot. Van Persie duly tucked away his 32nd goal of the season.
Half time, 3-0.
Three goals before half time meant that there was a buzz about the Emirates – a real hope that we could do the impossible. But that is where the blog ends – the second half was that “frustating game” that we all didn’t want. Arsene threw on Chamakh and Park but nothing we could do could penetrate Milan’s defence in the second half.
We had chances, for sure, with Gervinho striking at goal and Van Persie unable to turn in the rebound. There was an inevitability about the last ten minutes where we looked exhausted, we gave a lot a spirited performance, but not enough. We ended the game 3-0 and the fourth was a goal too much.
Arsene was very proud of the performance, as I am sure we all are…
They can only be proud of their performance. I felt we were a bit short. We had no midfielders at all on the bench. We suffered a little bit when we got tired in the second half. We were a bit more fatigued. I’m sure we would have scored two or three more goals in the second half. But to put the performance in is fantastic spirit and restored some pride after our first tie. Unfortunately we go out.”
Arsene also singled out Oxlade and Rosicky as two outstanding players on the night, and I’d have to agree:
For a guy who has never played at the top level in central midfield, he started in a Champions League game and he did well. He tired a bit in the second half after his injury, and he got less of the ball than he did in the first half. When he got the ball, you always think something could happen. He can play all of the places across the pitch, in midfield to wide. You could see he has suffered physically, but also that he has the class to be in there. I have to give credit to Tomas Rosicky for that. He was again outstanding here. In all of these games, he was one of the most influential players, and he does not always get the credit he deserves, so I would like to take this opportunity to give him credit.
We are on a good run at the moment, and today’s game was testimony to the form we’ve been in recently. We need to take this form into the Newcastle game this weekend and keep at it until the end of the season.
All I can say is well done boys…!