Things have been so bad this year, I don’t quite know what to do with a good story?
Arsenal turned over Milan in their own backyard. I think I correctly called this the other day, because I know the Wenger story never really ends.
I was confident the hype bus was a little out of control, the Italians spent a lot of money on a lot of average players. So though their form has been impressive, and they’ve scalped some big teams, I didn’t think they’d cause us a problem. We have too many good players who’d be up for an away day against a legendary team. So it proved right, high on great food and fine fashion, we secured a great win in one of the worlds great footballing capitals.
We controlled the game start to finish, never looking in trouble. It was odd. We kind of Milan’d Milan. The first goal came from Mikki. Ramsey blocked a bad pass, Jack Wilshere picked up the loose ball and played it back to the Welshman, he laid off Ozil who first time clipped over the defence into the path of Mikki on the left side of the Milan area, he shimmied inside and ripped a fizzing shot in off a defender leaving Donnaruma no chance.
Arsenal going a goal up early was exactly what the team needed after a torrid run of away form. The nerves were settled, the thunderous pressing we were expecting didn’t land, and Milan was a long way off the pace.
Most of their chances came from sloppy keeping from Ospina. The Colombian nearly gave away a penalty, was super sketchy from corners, and just looked like he was desperate to concede. He was our only weak spot outside some painful finishing. I was tapping out my ‘we could pay for this’ tweet, but I needn’t have bothered. We finished the half strong. The goal was all about Ramsey, he flicked a Mustafi ball inside right into Welbeck, the Englishman sensibly spotted and played in Ozil who timed a perfectly weighted pass for the run of Aaron. The turbocharged midfielder rounded one of the best keepers in the business like Messi. A casual reminder he can be pretty devastating when he’s on form.
The second half was very composed. It was Arsenal behaving like an experienced Champions League team in an away game, the sort of performance we’ve generally lacked in away games in the Champions League. We weren’t overly adventurous, everyone looked like they knew their job and the centre-backs did a terrific job mopping up with very little drama to speak of.
Up front, Danny Welbeck worked tirelessly, but as usual, goals and end product were sadly amiss. I love the guy, but the ‘he always falls over’ talk in the Italian papers before the game was absolutely spot on. He blew some serious chances, that jokes aside, could cost us in the second leg. You can’t make a living running around and tiring out defenders. At least not at our level.
All in all, a very good game. If we can’t qualify with 2 away goals, then Wenger needs to be double fired at the end of the season.
So the good news is we’re back to winning ways. The team kept a clean sheet, played well away from home, and played some pretty exciting football at times. This should likely be a turning point in our season. We have a run of pretty easy games coming up, so there’s no reason for misery to continue.
My worry is Milan were naive. They didn’t show up. They didn’t attack us, they gave us far too much space and they tried to play us at our game which never works when your players are substandard. Watford might not give us that much respect at the weekend. We’re still fragile until we start winning in England on a more consistent basis. Hopefully the February blues can truly be banished with a beasting of Troy Deeney.
Turning the joy down a notch, as I mentioned before the game, a win against Milan doesn’t paper over the fact that Wenger is finished. If he wins the Europa, which is still a massive task, it should be the crowning glory of a fabulous career. The club needs to resist making an emotional decision if the best happens.
I know I should just let people enjoy the moment, and I’m not saying I didn’t love that performance yesterday. I’m merely pointing out that a Europa League win for Wenger is like being told you’ve had a last minute stay of execution whilst walking the green mile. No one is going to tell you not to celebrate that. However, reality will soon hit hard when you realize you have to share a cell with Big Horny Steve for the rest of your life. Wenger is Steve, you’ll regret the win if it means 5 more years of him.
Still, the two scenarios can coexist. The numbers and the data clearly point towards this being a disastrous season. We’d be even worse off if the team was playing a full-strength team in Europe. I’m sure the club know that. If Wenger wins, there’s no reason the club can’t still force him out of the club, just like Liverpool did with Kenny Dalglish before welcoming the mighty Brendan Rodgers. Imagine if exactly the same situation happens with us… I’ll be begging to bunk with Big Steve.
Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments!