The Arsenal boys can hold their head high after last night’s performance. After the debacle of the performance in the first leg it really was a night of damage limitation. The Arsenal managed to restore a lot of pride and belief with a totally unexpected 2-0 win at the Allianz Arena. It was the perfect outcome behind obviously pulling off a victory clawing back the 3 nil deficit.
It was important leading into the match that the players raised their game and put in a performance to restore the belief that could hopefully be transferred into the domestic form. It has been a long wait since the last game against Tottenham for the Arsenal players to get on the pitch and right their recent wrongs.
I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I didn’t believe Arsenal would win the tie; I believed they could win on the night but not enough to go through. By the time Koscielny planted that header in the back of the net all scepticism was thrown out the window as my fingernails were chipped away with nervous tension. Arsenal may have bowed out from the competition but much like the exit to AC Milan last season they can draw strength from the performance and channel it to the chase for top four position in the Premier League. In a night in which Arsenal had nothing to lose they walked away gaining so much.
Much respect to the players on the pitch because based on the rumours leading up to the game of players left out and then viewing the starting line up the final result did not seem possible. Fabianski in goal is enough to send the jitters through to the bones of Arsenal fans. Spending the majority of the season on the treatment table he was drafted into the starting line up for his comeback game in quite high profile circumstances. Fair play to the Pole, he did everything right on the night; it was an assured performance and a sign of what he can be capable of. When he is good he is good but the bad often outweighs the good, let’s hope he can change that trend if he is called upon again this season.
Koscielny was magnificent in partnership with Mertesacker at the centre of defence. That is probably one of the most frustrating things about the defence. We know they have these performances in them but on too many occasions the errors undo all the hard work. Koscielny has been disappointing this season in comparison to his efforts last season however last night showed why the manager believes in him.
Jenkinson also had a big game last night, he has improved with the run of games he has had in the side and Arsene will have a dilemma when Sagna returns to fitness. At the start of the season when Jenkinson was playing to a high level and growing with each game he was unfairly yanked from the first team as soon as Sagna was fit. I think this time when Sagna returns to fitness he should earn the right to usurp the English right back from the starting eleven.
It was good (and a relief) to see Gibbs return to first team action, he certainly contributed to the performance last night and it was important he lasted the 90 minutes. Of course Nacho Monreal has settled in well to the team but some competition at this stage of the season will keep the two left backs on their toes.
All the players played their part and helped to erase the memories of the first leg defeat. When you think back Arsenal were so out played in that game they made Bayern look like supermen. Last night Arsenal made those Bayern players look human; they had them scared in the end and reduced them to scurrying in the corners and playing for free kicks to waste time.
The players put in a shift and fought until the end to get the result, what they need to do now is transfer that into the game with Swansea at the weekend. Everything earned last night will be for nothing if they come up short against the Welshmen. I understand it was a tough gruelling game away in Europe which will be followed by a tough away game to a Swansea team that have given Arsenal some tough games this season but this is the time to build on the momentum. There are players rested who can return to duty and with a number of options in the squad fatigue should be heavily reduced.
Well done Arsenal, enjoy your feats from last night but don’t dwell on it too long, there’s a job to be done at the weekend.
Enjoy your day people.
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