Arsene Wenger knows when to dial up a season, and when to put on a show. His band of temperamental misfits pulled it together to a very empty stadium, and dropped CSKA from a great height onto a slab of polished concourse concrete.
Not even Arsenal can fuck up a 3 goal advantage.
The performance was dominated by Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil. The Welshman was in full on ‘give me the Ozil money’ mode. He absolutely dominated the game with his energy and attacking instincts. He popped up with two goals and was unlucky to have an early attempt disallowed. Our German superstar was in his element, he was given free rein to pick out space and runs all evening. His three assists and an asisst to the assister gave him the MOM.
The first goal came when he found Bellerin on the right. The Spaniard fizzed a searching low first-time cross into the penalty area, it found Ramsey at the back post where he cooly smashed his shot past Akinfeev.
The second didn’t take long to arrive, and it went the way of CSKA. A shoddy Mustafi clearance, a weak header by Xhaka, and an aggressive clear up operation from Koscielny led to a freekick being given about 20 yards out. Golovin made no mistake, masterfully looping the ball over the wall and dipping it under the bar. Petr Cech had no chance.
It didn’t really feel like a game changer, we had all the momentum. Arsenal looked comfortable on the ball, we were definitely fitter, and we had way more talent. CSKA played the way Wenger needs teams to play to win. Totally open, zero agression, with no clear plan.
Our second came from a penalty after Ozil was felled in the box for the second time in a week. This time, the penalty was a bit more justified and the contact came before the ball was touched. Lacazette took the kick and scored his second of the week.
Our third was so good that I’m still waiting for my excitement to subside, you know what I’m saying, right?
Mesut Ozil picked out a Ramsey late run into the box with a diagonal lofted ball into the CSKA area, Ramsey pirouetted mid-air and turned the ball over the keeper with the side of his heel. Ballerina beauty. A Puskas nomination is surely forthcoming. Give him the keys to north London while you’re at it. Also, force him to sign a new deal.
The night was capped off with a slick move. Xhaka played a great ball down the left, Ozil put in a sprint of exceptional gusto, then rattled a ball across the box, he found Lacazette about 10 yards from goal, he controlled the ball with one touch and rattled home a precision strike back across goal. A real fox in the box strike.
The only shame of the night is we didn’t really make sure of the result (you know, to properly safe levels), but to be honest, CSKA were so off the pace, it’s hard to see how they’d come back into the game.
There were no major upsets in the other games. Leipzig beat Marseille 1-0 at home. Atletico dealt easily with Sporting with a 2-0 victory, they’re certainly in the semifinals. Lazio beat Salzburg 4-2. All the strongest teams look very likely heading into the next round.
… Just pray we don’t meet Atletico.
Right, that’s all I have, see you in the comments. x