Daily Archives: March 7, 2012
There was a uphill task at the start of the game from an Arsenal perspective. Overturn a massive four-goal deficit suffered a fortnight ago in Italy.
Arsenal showed positive intent with a very attacking lineup and it paid dividends when Laurent Koscielny was on the end of a perfect Oxlade-Chamberlain corner to put Arsenal one up with just six minutes gone.
Theo Walcott was giving AC Milan’s left back a torrid and he did well to find Robin van Persie in behind the defense. His right-footed drive was blocked by Christian Abbiati in goal.
Gervinho ran at the defense before teeing up Van Persie. Arsenal’s talisman steadied the ball for himself before curling a superb shot but Abbiati did well to parry the shot.
Walcott made another run at the defense but his cross was poorly cleared by Thiago Silva. The ball arrived at Tomas Rosicky’s feet and the Czech captain slotted in his second ever Champions League goal for Arsenal. His first ever goal came in his Champions League debut against Hamburg six years ago.
The Ox made another jinking run that caused more problems for the AC Milan defense and he compounded their misery by winning a penalty. Robin van Persie stepped up to send Abbiati the wrong way.
Stephan El Sharaawy had the chance to kill off the contest late in the first half but he sent his effort wide.
At halftime, Arsenal was a goal away from making history so the next goal was going to be the most important.
Arsenal threw caution to the wind in the second half and the tempo reduced a bit. However, Wojciech Szczesny almost gifted AC Milan a goal on a platter when his poor distribution found Zlatan Ibrahimovic but was wasn’t punished for it.
Arsenal’s proposed moment of glory almost arrived when Gervinho found some space on the left hand side. His shot was deflected off a defender but Abbiati was on hand to make a great reaction save. The follow-up arrived on van Persie’s feet but he chose the wrong option of a cheeky lob with the goal at his mercy.
The Ox tweaked his hammy and lacked the sharpness he showed in the first half. He was replaced by Marouane Chamakh.
The miss of the match came from Antonio Nocerino from an Alberto Aquilani pass. Aquilani drilled a great through pass to Nocerino but he chose to use the outside of his foot and it was saved by Szczesny.
Late on, Walcott picked up a knock and was replaced by Arsenal’s peripheral signing, Park Chu-Young. Right at the death, Alex Song had a lot of players to tee up but he wanted to give his trademark “pass of life” but he misplaced the pass much to the disgust of Arsene Wenger, his team mates and the fans.
At the sound of the final whistle, it was a very great effort by Arsene Wenger’s men but it wasn’t good enough to seal qualification to the quarter finals.
Szczesny (8.0) put up a good performance but he almost messed it up with his shaky distribution.
Sagna (7.5) balanced his attacking and defensive play well.
Gibbs (7.0) put up another good shift on the left. He’ll certainly give Andre Santos a run for his money.
Koscielny (8.5) scored the early goal that sparked a revival and was a colossus in defense.
Vermaelen (8.5) was a beast at the back and was more than a handful for Zlatan.
Song (7.5) protected his back line well but he was a bit sloppy with his passing.
Rosicky (9.0) was immense in attack and was ubiquitous on the pitch. Good to see the old Rosicky back.
The Ox (8.0) was very direct in the first half but eased out after sustaining an injury.
Walcott (7.5) was a constant thorn in the flesh of the full back but his decision making cost him dearly in some vital moments.
Gervinho (7.0) didn’t really stamp his authority on the game but he did okay.
Van Persie (8.0) would have had four goals on the night but he had to settle for one from 12 yards.
Chamakh and Park didn’t play long enough to get ratings.
Arsenal put up a valiant display in the first half and fizzled out a bit in the second. Nonetheless, it was a great performance and a lot of positives have to be taken.
Arsenal has an entire week to recuperate in time to play Newcastle and with every Cup distraction out of the way, all focus must be aimed at finishing strongly in the league this season.
The quote of the week goes to Amyenah Dzeko,
“@amyenah: Rosicky’s face is still haunting me. He looked devastated. I wanted to get out there and give him a hug and tell him that he’s a legend.”
It’s time to hand Little Mozart that contract extension he deserves.
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