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Arsenal vs. Milan Match Report

by on March 7, 2012

Arsenal vs. Milan Match Report

Rather surprisingly in the build up to the game there were a lot of confident Arsenal fans. The manager Arsene Wenger said that his team’s challenge was “To make the impossible possible”. Unfortunately Arsenal’s 3-0 win was not enough to get through the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Maybe the impossible was impossible after all, but the players tried their hardest to see if it was. Arsenal’s undoing was not a lack of ability, creativity, effort or some sort of defensive blunder (some times this season all of those have been our undoing) but it was a lack of depth. For the first 45 minutes I saw the most effort I have ever seen from an Arsenal side, Walcott and Chamberlain were running non-stop, Rosicky was dictating the tempo and creating chances. 3-0 up at half-time I was inspired. Unfortunately for Arsenal the human body can only push itself so far and it is safe to say every player in an Arsenal shirt pushed themselves to the max, especially Walcott and Chamberlain who practically sprinted the 18km they covered. A failure to get a fourth came down to pure exhaustion, as soon as Arsenal were forced to bring on Chamakh and Park the game was up. They are both technically gifted but they lacked the 100% determination that the rest of the team had. Even Szczesny looked tired by the end of the game because of the raw emotion everyone on pitch was experiencing. Quite ironically it was Van Persie who wasted our best chance to get a fourth, while Rosicky (who’s scored three goals in the last 18 months) scored and so did Koscielny (who is in fact a defender). This was a ‘defeat’ but to play like that four goals down is quite something, with character like that there is no reason why next season we cannot win the league, all it would take is the sale of Chamakh, Arshavin and Park and a few signings. This result will drive us on to future success, especially Van Persie who missed our chance to go into extra time.

Domir Skomina, the referee was involved in the game before anything of note took place by booking Mark Van Bommel for his first foul. Unfortunately for the match the referee maintained this approach throughout the game. He booked three players in the first 15 minutes, lacked consistency and changed his mind on multiple occasions. In fact there were a number of times he played advantage when the team who had the ball committed the foul. However I did not feel he was biased, despite giving Milan 13 more decisions than  Arsenal (the biggest difference in the Champions League this season). I just felt he did not know the rules well enough to be actively one sided. Fortunately his decisions did not cost anyone the match.

The first goal came eight minutes in, surprisingly from a corner. Koscielny, who was un-marked in the box, headed in the goal. The goal got the crowd going and everyone in north London started to believe the impossible was just improbable.

20 minutes in Van Persie hit one of his trademark long shots, just like the one against Tottenham, forcing a world class save from Christian Abbati. This was followed five minutes later with a rare goal from Rosicky, but boy did he deserve it. It was placed almost perfectly from about 12 yards out. Abbati got a hand to it but that was not enough. The crowd went crazy and the number four was on everyone’s lips.

40 minutes in Arsenal were awarded a penalty after Chamberlain’s run was brought to an end by Mesbah and Nocerino who closed it on him. Then Van Persie hit a perfect penalty and at 3-0 everyone believed Arsenal could get a fourth.

As the half-time whistle blew Arsenal believed they could win, the fans believed they could, even Milan believed Arsenal could win.

Arsenal’s second half performance was decent, with the exception of the defenders who were outstanding, especially Koscielny, he was fantastic. But Arsenal simply ran out of steam. That did not stop them putting in 110%, but they lacked the energy to dictate the play.

Szczesny looked confident, beating Ibrahimovic to a dangerous through ball in the 55th minute.

The 59th minute brought the defining moment of the game. Gervinho went for goal 11 yards out; taking a deflection off the defender it almost beat Abbati. The ball spilled to Van Persie, everyone at the Emirates was on their feet. Surely he would score… but it was not to be. He decided to chip the keeper, who was only two yards in front of him. If he had tried to shoot any other way he would have scored, but no. The keeper, to his credit, saved it. And that was the moment that killed off the belief Arsenal could win. It was like a flashback to Thierry’s one-on-one miss in the 2006 Champions League final.

Van Persie’s confidence hit rock bottom. It was a wake-up call for Milan, only a few minutes later Ibrahimovic pounced on Szczesny’s misplaced pass, fortunately for Arsenal Song won the ball back.

In the 73rd minute Walcott’s determination was demonstrated by his attempt to beat four Milan players, he came close but was eventually dispossessed.

Minutes later Chamberlain had to come off as he was clearly carrying a knock. Disappointingly Chamakh was the Gunners’ best option to replace him.

After Walcott came off there was one last chance for Arsenal when Song won the ball, he attempted a counter-attacking run but appeared too tired to actually move. Knowing this he tried a long ball to Van Persie, something he has succeeded at many times this season, but it was clear something was not right with him as he desperately miss-hit the pass.

That was game over, Arsenal were out of the Champions League. But that was some performance; to beat the reigning champions of Italy 3-0 is quite something, especially for a “club in crisis”.

The disappointment was clear on the players’ faces, Robin’s in particular. Was it all for nothing? No, not by a long shot. The players now know they can still win games, no matter the score. Taking that into the rest of the season, puts Wenger’s men in the perfect position to challenge for third and finish ahead of Tottenham. After tonight, anything can happen.

Written by Thomas Munson, tweet him @Eltomo71

Some more thoughts on the game after Thomas’s summary.

After our last two wins in the league, including the demolition of Spurs, would we be brought down to earth against AC Milan, with the huge task ahead of us after such a poor performance in the away leg?

I think we may have found an Arsenal player that can take a decent corner!  Oxlade-Chamberlain whipped in a great delivery in the 5th minute and Koscielny headed home to give us the start we needed. It has seemed years since we did – even one of my favourite players of all time, Pires struggled to take a decent corner, and it hasn’t improved with the current squad.  Do they practice them in training?  For a long time now we haven’t been able to defend them either so maybe not!  What a player The Ox is; doesn’t seem to have any nerves in the big games, poised on the ball, great pace and control.  As the saying goes, ‘if you are good enough, you are old enough’.  Wenger does seem to want to protect him, but not playing him for a full 90 mins or starting him on the bench.  We shouldn’t be surprised at this as he does do this with young players.  He started in midfield tonight, and I think that could be his future position. Once he went off, mainly from fatigue, we suffered greatly.

The whole team performed at the top of their game last night, especially in the first half, but individuals to pick out apart from Oxlade-Chamberlain were –

Rosicky – another fine game in an Arsenal shirt, rewarded with another goal.  He ran his socks off in midfield.

Walcott – much maligned after his first half against Spurs, and a sometimes frustrating player to watch, our number 14 was excellent last night.

The defence as a whole – we knew we couldn’t concede and boy did they make sure it didn’t happen.  This wasn’t only down to the five at the back (other teams members worked hard as well) but it is nice to give praise to the defence for once, after some what, has to be said, woeful displays this season.

Unfortunately we did run out of steam in the second half;Milanre-grouped after a terrible first half display and our efforts in the first forty-five minutes took their toll.  Once Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott were replaced by Chamakh and Park, unfortunately not like for like, we lost our hold on the game, and a fourth goal looked less likely.  We can take huge pride from this performance, as in the last two league games.  We beat the reigning Italian champions 3-0 and played them off the park in the first half. 

With this momentum I believe we can push on to maintain fourth place, and also catch Spurs in third.   Our remaining away fixtures are at Everton, QPR, Wolves, Stoke and WBA, and I think we can get eleven points from fifteen in those games.  At home we haveNewcastle, Villa,ManCity,Wigan,ChelseaandNorwich.  We should be able to get three points from all but the Man City and Chelsea games, and even then in our current form, there is no reason why we shouldn’t beat those two at home.  I truly believe with the renewed spirit and togetherness we are currently showing, we can put together one of our best run-ins for many seasons and overhaul Spurs for third place.

Follow me on twitter – @shoegirl1968



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