The European Dream is Over, but there’s a Lot of Fight for
To be honest, it still hurts.
I can vividly remember when I was in a bar talking with friends when the draws were made in December. ‘Monaco is not all that’, I said. ‘We will brush them aside and finally qualify for the quarterfinals. I’m tired of getting knocked out in the Round of 16’. This sentiment was shared by many Arsenal fans out there. Monaco was there for the taking but over the course of two legs, the away goals rule played a big role as the Gunners crashed out of the Champions League in typical fashion. The last four Round of 16 second leg encounters has seen the Gunners win three and draw one but the outcome remained the same – Arsenal falling on the hurdle yet again.
There’s the general feeling of sadness in the Arsenal camp. The boss feels that the away goal rule is outdated and Aaron Ramsey says that the team needs to learn from the debacle. The manager is unhappy, the players are unhappy, fuck, the fans are unhappy but hey, that’s football. You win some, you lose some but it doesn’t stop there. Prior to the 3-1 loss to Monaco, Arsenal was in good form, since the loss to Southampton, the Gunners had gone on a winning streak before suffering a blip at White Hart Lane. Even after the loss to Monaco, the Gunners beat Everton, QPR, West Ham and even ousted Manchester United from the FA Cup at Old Trafford.
With the 2-0 win not good enough to secure qualification for the Gunners, what should they do? Pick themselves up and brace up for what’s coming in subsequent weeks. It starts with an away clash against Newcastle before hosting high-flying Liverpool at the Emirates. Brendan Rodgers should be lauded for the upturn in their fortunes this year, and the Gunners will have a game on their hands. After the lunch-time fixture against Liverpool, the Gunners have a tricky away tie against Burnley, a team that has surprised us with their recent results against Chelsea, Manchester United and last weekend, Manchester City.
After the Burnley game, the Gunners would go to Wembley to take on Reading before hosting Jose Mourinho and his table toppers at the Emirates. Given the history between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, that will be a match I wouldn’t miss for anything in the world… I hope. With the Gunners playing in the FA Cup semifinal, the League game against Sunderland will be postponed and would be fixed in what I hope would be a favorable time. There would be successive fixtures against Hull and Swansea before the penultimate game of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford. After the curtain closer against West Brom, Arsenal fans will be hoping that there would be a FA Cup final to look forward to.
The players have picked a rich vein of form in the right time and the statisticians will tell you that Arsenal has won 13 of their last 15 games which is championship form. The team’s shambolic start to the season caused them to predicament as the Gunners won just two of their first eight games.
The European dream is over but there’s a lot to fight for.
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