Arsenal go out of competition in best possible way

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.

giroud bayern

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.

Kozzer

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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Can recent history repeat itself against Bayern for Arsenal?

Interesting week ahead for the gunners; a week which has the potential to be the turning point in the fortunes of Arsenal football club. If history manages to repeat itself the game against Bayern could help restore belief amongst the players and fans much like what happened last year in the games against AC Milan. After a horrid 1st leg result against the Italians the team managed to pull off a gallant effort despite still being eliminated. The players were able to walk off the field with their heads held high, pride restored and a renewed belief and support from the fans as they saw out the season into third place.

ox v milan

The game with Bayern requires a massive performance from the players; they owe it to the fans, the manager and themselves to prove they do belong in the champion’s league amongst Europe’s best. The first leg played into Bayern’s hands as morale was low amongst the players and the Germans exploited that. We were totally outclassed and in my opinion at that moment in time it was not a true reflection of Arsenal football club. Now is the opportunity for the club to show they are miles better than that first leg performance.

A gift was presented in the form of Liverpool’s win over Spurs yesterday; the gap can be closed on our North London rivals in the league but a heavy/embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Germans is likely to filter through into the league form. A run of games is required now through to the end of the season, the club cannot afford to be hit and miss any more.

verm v robben

Elimination at the hands of Bayern may not be avoided but it does not mean Arsene’s team cannot pull off a victory on the night and/or produce a reassuring performance to restore pride. A performance of note is likely to be noticed by the Spurs players and the closer the season moves towards squeaky bum time the psychological effect that could have on their players is massive.

The Spurs performance against Liverpool was not bad, it was clear their confidence was up given their recent results and at the point they went 2-1 up the game looked to be theirs to lose. Thankfully for Arsenal fans they tried their best to throw the game away as they gifted two goals to Liverpool. Brain-dead defending which I thought was only a disease Arsenal suffered from this season ensured Liverpool left the game with all the points.

It is the little things that can turn a clubs season upside down, at 2-1 up they looked certain to add another goal and put the game beyond the Scousers however that moment of madness from Walker changed everything and from being at a level high in confidence and cruising the Spurs players now find themselves looking over their shoulder and worrying. Doubt can creep into future performances and if Arsenal takes advantage of the slip up it will make for a very tense run in.

suarez pen

oops…

Chelsea I still believe is the stronger of the two teams above Arsenal and likely to fix their problems while Spurs are the more fragile mentally and the team most likely to be caught. My only hope is the Arsenal mentality will grow stronger based on their Champions League efforts this week.

Enjoy your day people.

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Gunners avoid Barca but meet Bayern.

So the draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League was made yesterday and we managed to avoid a mouth-watering clash with Barcelona instead drawing Bayern Munich. By means a tie that can be equally as hard as facing Barca, Munich are a team in top form in their domestic league, they currently lie top of the Bundesliga not to mention being the winners of their Champion’s League group.

Bayern celebrating

There is an Arsenal link to Bayern as Lukasz Podolski is a former player; he will definitely have a point to prove against the German giants. His spell with Bayern didn’t quite go to plan and many questioned his credentials when playing for a big club; he then returned to previous club Cologne to rebuild his reputation. He had his 2nd chance to prove himself at a big club when he signed for us in the summer and although on reflection he hasn’t set the world alight since at the Emirates he has been far from a flop either. He will be bang up for it and he has already given some of his thoughts on the draw.

poldi bayern days

It will be a true test to the Arsenal and we will need to pull out an almighty performance in the first leg and then finish the job at their ground. If we do manage to win the tie it will no doubt restore confidence back to the players; Bayern are last season’s finalists after all and a win may give the team the belief that they have every chance to win the competition. Football is so much about confidence and once the belief is there in the players then half the manager’s job is already done, he just needs to channel that belief and avoid it turning into arrogance because that is when teams come unstuck.

No team has a divine right to win any game; it takes hunger and wanting it more than the other team. Just turning up expecting to win doesn’t ensure anything as we learnt last week against Bradford. If Arsene helps the team keep up its momentum in the league and channels their focus; then with the home fans behind them we can take the game to Bayern at the Emirates.

There’s a lot of football to be played between now and 19th February when the first leg is scheduled; hopefully boosted by some new signings in January we will progress to the next round.

I do wonder how the postponement of the Boxing Day game against West Ham will affect the team in the long run. The strike scheduled by the London Underground staff had left the authorities with no choice but to cancel the game on that day. On the plus side it gives the players an extra rest over the Christmas period but we will have to shoehorn the game into January which I am sure will be at an unwelcome time. Additionally West Ham are struggling with injuries and it may have been the best time to play them; I have always preferred games on the board rather than games in hand as there is no guarantee you get maximum points from those games.

emirates empty

I suppose with the game off it’s a great opportunity to drive down to the stadium on Boxing day and visit the Armoury store. The roads will be empty and the shop will be less crammed with no game on. I’m sure to pick up a bargain or two in the sales, Arsenal Onesie..? Maybe not.

Enjoy your day people.

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