That my friends is why Arsene can’t exist at the highest level, and part of the reason he’s off. The club went all out, purchased in some fancy red and silver flags, the fans came with their voices in full flow, but when push came to shove, we were undone by a long ball and another Koscielny big game mistake.
Wenger called the draw the worst result for Arsenal, and he’s not wrong. The only team to beat Atleti at home this season is Chelsea in the Champions League, they’ve kept 10 clean sheets in the last 11 games, and we’ve not been great on our travels this season.
Crazier things have happened, but you can’t help but think we’ve blown our best opportunity. We played seriously well in the first half, we dominated possession, we were ‘almost’ bullying them. Danny Welbeck was quite the scene, pulling defenders out of position, delivering wicked passes, and doing his ‘nearly enough’ thing with a few chances Auba would have buried.
Vrsaljko kind of spoiled the game. He picked up two bookings inside 10 minutes, fouling Wilshere and Lacazette with poor timing. That was never going to work for us, Atleti doubled down on defending, and we couldn’t find a way to make the significant gains we needed to kill the Spanish side.
We did take the lead on 60, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey had a lovely interchange, Jack looped a cross to the back post, Lacazette was on hand to score another Europa goal. A superb header.
Arsenal couldn’t hold out. Wenger didn’t find the magic to affect the game. He didn’t even think of bringing on some fresh legs to ruffle a tiring 10 man side.
You just knew we weren’t going to hold on. Danny Welbeck needlessly lost the ball deep in Atelti’s half, a hoofed long ball managed to find Griezmann, the Frenchman shrugged off Kos and made it count. A disaster. But ever so typical of Koscielny who has made a habit of dropping clangers in important moments.
It’s incredibly frustrating, part of me felt like we had a real chance yesterday evening. We were the better team, we played the best football, and we created the most chances. The other part of me knows we’ve seen it before. Back when we were only semi shit, Chelsea would let us play our way into a loss. It felt a little like that last night. This comment from Simeone was interesting.
“It’s really hard to play away at Arsenal – an extraordinary stadium, a spectacular coach in the opposite dugout – with 10 men. These Atletico players, the way they played and put up with the pressure was tremendous. The fans brought a positive energy to accompany our passion.
“You guys have no idea how difficult it is to defend. Football is about playing and playing is the fun part, but you’ve got to have balls to defend with 10 men for 80 minutes.”
I’d love to defend like kings and come away from 10 men down with the upper hand.
Is the game over? No. Is it going to be the fight of our lives in the next game? Yes.
What yesterday showed is that we have great players and we can mix with the best. Give the club a world class manager who can instill the right sort of discipline and maybe the hike to the next level won’t be quite so arduous.
As for Wenger, it is what it is. He’s not good enough, we know this. He doesn’t know how to manage a game. He doesn’t have the smarts to see out a result, or jump on it and break its neck. That’s why he’s going, no point in ranting on. Even if he wins the tournament, we know he’s washed up. I’m just glad that whatever happens, it’s over for him.
Also, Atleti weren’t that impressive. They landed the result from a poor mistake. One that we make too often. But the game isn’t dead. We still have something to play for, and on our night, we can do anything.
Fingers crossed for leg 2, #BackDoorTop4 is still on… we’re just going to have to do it the hard way. All we need is one goal, then it’s game on.
See you in Spain…