Wednesday 7 March 2012

Miracles DO happen!

30+ ?? Naah..

Who said miracles don't happen? It was a miracle that A.C. Milan proceeded to the quarter finals, after Arsenal stampeded them in the first half to go 3-0 up. Most of us would have resigned to losing the stop in the last 8, but it was not so impossible after 45 minutes into the game. We just needed a goal to level with Milan, but it was so close.

The reaction of the team and the way they rose to the occasion deserved more than just a win. Having played just 3 days before in what was a very tiring game at Liverpool, it was a massive effort in the first half, but the team overcame that. It has been a very tough two weeks for the players physically and mentally and they have shown enormous mental strength to not let that shadow their spirits. Arsene demanded for a spirited display and the team gave just that.

We needed an early goal to spark things quickly and Kos gave us that just 7 minutes into the game. The players did not show any mercy and walked all over Milan.Their midfield looked a bit light weight and we did pretty well in winning the ball back again each time we lost it. The difference between our past performances and last night's was that, each time we got the ball, we looked to attack. There was seldom any pass that went sideways and most of that was due to some sparkling display's by Rosicky and Ox. Rosicky has looked great since his past couple of performances and has regained that magic touch after his goal against Rottenham. Every time he got the ball, it looked as if it might end up in the back of the net. Who says players beyond their 30's are past their peak!?
Ibrahimovic's post match interview says it all, he reveals,
It's a relief that we're through to the next round. Every time they attacked you started thinking: 'what if they score a fourth goal?'. We won't take anything with us from this game. We just have to learn from our mistakes.
And it's true, they never looked comfortable in the first half. RVP's penalty and the third goal must have definitely made them shiver in their pants. The credit goes to Ox for his brilliant run into the penalty box when the two defenders stop him in his tracks and fouled. He was brilliant throughout the first half and already looks a player heading for the legends list. Pity that he got injured in the second half and had to be substituted. He looked a bit tired and just couldn't give his 100 percent. RVP thumped the penalty into the top corner and not a keeper in the world could have stopped that.

At the end of the first half, the score stood at Arsenal leading 3-0 and there was every reason to believe that we could make it to 4-0 or probably 5-0 too. We started the second half with the same swagger but the Milan players looked a bit organised and tough to break through. The Gunners also got tired, it must have been a pretty exhausting, playing the last few games in a tight schedule. Apart from some chances there wasn't much spark. One such moment was when Gervinho had the ball in the penalty box, he took the opportunity to shoot only for Abbiati to parry the ball at RVP's left foot. He was just a few feet away from goal and had very little time to react and still tried to chip the ball over the keeper. Unfortunately, Abbiati raised his arms in an attempt to make a save and was lucky to stop it from going in. Nobody could believe that RVP didn't score, such has been his form off late that everyone expects anything flying off his foot should land at the back of the net.

After that, we just couldn't recreate the magic, we were losing the ball a bit more than the first half and the exhaustion began to show. Chamakh was substituted to replace Ox and later Park was called on in place of Gervinho, who looked a bit out of touch throughout the game. Besides a couple of runs forward and the shot in the penalty box, he was mostly absent. Our defense did pretty well to keep the Milan attackers away from the goal. They got some pretty good opportunities towards the end of the game but we defended well and kept us in the game till the last moment.

If you would have asked any Arsenal fan before the game, if they'll take a win, they would have happily taken it. But it was disappointing, even after a win, not to go through to the quarter finals. That kind of performance definitely deserved much more, but their was immense pride to be taken from the game. They might regret for not getting an away goal in Milan, but it was lesson learned.
Rosicky said,
I am proud of my team-mates because what we produced today was great football, but it's sad because obviously we are out of the competition. We can go out with our heads held high but we blew it in Milan.
But the performance has given the team new hopes and confidence that they can still do better in the premier league and qualify for the Champions League next season. They will know their capabilities much better and with it will just give belief that they can fight till the end of the season. Last year it was a very forgettable defeat in the Carling cup final that made them lose that confidence and they just collapsed. Last night's match, along with the recent performances, might just do the opposite of that.
Afterwards, Sagna said,
We are fourth now and we have a bit of an advance on Chelsea. We want to put Arsenal back in the Champions League and we are only four points behind Tottenham now. We know we can do it and now we have to win the next game against Newcastle, which is as important as the one against Milan. If we want to qualify for the Champions League we cannot let it go now.
TV reiterated what Sagna said,
It's really important because Arsenal is a team that belongs in the Champions League. We will try to achieve that in the next games and get into the top four. At the moment, after the way we played in the first half against Milan, I am really confident. It's hard to be consistent in top-level football. The team that is the most consistent will win prizes, I believe in that. But we have to be confident that we have the quality in the team and that is what we showed against Milan.
The role of Rosicky is going to be very important in the season ahead and what a time to have discovered his lost form. It was good to see players other than RVP getting on the score sheet, though I would have loved to see him score a couple more yesterday. But there won't be any regrets after this performance. If anything, the fire will be burning more fiercely and I am sure that the team is raring to take on the next opposition. Whatever, fear our reservedness they might have looks certainly gone. Let's hope for a brighter end to this season because God knows that they deserve it!

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