While they did not progress, Arsenal did themselves and also their fans extremely proud by winning the second leg tie against AC Milan 3-0. Before going into this tie, most of us would be lying in saying we believed the gunners would pull off the miracle they needed to overhaul a four goal deficit on aggregate, but at half-time an upset almost seemed to be written in stone.
The performance from the players was inspiring to see. There was belief and passion as Arsene Wenger selected a very attacking formulated side with no key players rested. First half goals to Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie made the tie a very tense and interesting affair, although the half-time break did stifle Arsenal’s dominance in the match somewhat.
While AC Milan did put in a very much improved performance in the second-half, it did not completely halt Arsenal’s chances at goal. I must say I was almost jumping for joy when a when a chance fell to Robin van Persie on the hour mark. Gervinho did well to pick the ball up on the left-hand edge of the box and fashion a chance for himself by cutting inside his defender. Abbiati did great with the save, but when the rebound fell to Van Persie I was all but certain it would be a goal. Abbiati though had other ideas.
As the game progressed, injuries and fatigue started to set in and unfortunately two of Arsenal’s game-changers had to be subbed due to injury. Both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott were withdrawn and simply put there replacements, Park Chu-Young and Marouanne Chamakh, are no where near on the same quality or match sharpness level. They unsurprisingly had little influence on the remainder of the match.
While we were eliminated from the Champions League, I am definitely proud of the performance Arsenal put in to secure a dominant 3-0 victory. We can only take this victory as a confidence booster and move on to our upcoming clash against Newcastle!
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on the performance…
We gave a good performance tonight and we are disappointed because we touched qualification. We had the chances and we didn’t do it, but we were very close. I felt that we suffered a bit in the second half physically because we gave a lot at Liverpool. Overall I feel we didn’t have many options on the bench in midfield and in the second half we had more problems keeping the ball than in the first half. When we tired in midfield we had no options on the bench and the regret I have is there. The players put in a faultless performance, with fantastic spirit and you can only congratulate the whole team.
on the first leg…
We have played so many games away in the Champions League and we have never lost 4-0 anywhere. We have played at Real Madrid, at Barcelona and we have played against better teams than Milan so it was very disappointing because our performance was poor.
on feeling proud…
I don’t know if it is one of my proudest nights but it is a night when players can be proud to play for this Club because they put every effort in. If you win 3-0 at home you can only say well done to the players. You know that if you play 180 minutes and you miss 90, it is difficult at this level. We were very close.
on whether the players need to be lifted…
We are on a good run in the league and we know it will be difficult [to lift the players] because it is a big disappointment, but the team have grown together. Hopefully from here we can finish the season in a strong way because we know there is no room for disappointment in the league. For us every point is a battle and until the end of the season that is what is in front of us.
on the referee…
I was not happy with the referee tonight because I felt he gave many free kicks in the middle of the park. Every time [MIlan’s players] went down a free kick was given to them, and they sensed that very quickly and used it very well.
on Van Persie’s second-half chance…
What can I say? The one you would want the chance to go to was Van Persie. He tried to chip the goalkeeper, and you have to give credit to Abbiati. It is a fraction where the players have to make a decision, but credit to the keeper.
For a guy who has never played at the top level in central midfield, he started in a Champions League game and he did well. He tired a bit in the second half after his injury, and he got less of the ball than he did in the first half. When he got the ball, you always think something could happen. He can play all of the places across the pitch, in midfield to wide. You could see he has suffered physically, but also that he has the class to be in there.
on the team’s recent good performances…
I have to give credit to Tomas Rosicky for that. He was again outstanding here. In all of these games, he was one of the most influential players, and he does not always get the credit he deserves, so I would like to take this opportunity to give him credit.
on the defensive display…
I felt defensively we were not at the [right] level in Milan. Tonight our defenders were outstanding and the back four did very well. We had a very offensive team and to keep Milan from scoring, we needed an outstanding performance at the back and we did that very well.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Walcott Rosicky Gervinho
Van Persie (c)
Wojciech Szczesny | 8.0: Overall a great performance by Szczesny despite some hairy distribution. Made a couple of great saves from Ibrahimovich and Nocerino and ways always aware of the through ball claiming anything that got to close.
Bacary Sagna | 7.5: Very solid performance from the Frenchman who kept Robinho quiet for much of the night. Also supported Walcott well and provided some good crosses for Van Persie.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.5: Was potent on attack and defence. Got the come-back going with a great 7th minute header and was always very aware on defence nipping in to intercept wherever he could.
Thomas Vermalen | 7.5: The Verminator had an extremely strong performance tonight keeping Ibrahimovich quiet for much of the match. Refused to let the world-class striker into the game.
Kieran Gibbs | 6.0: Was probably the weakest of the Arsenal defenders and was caught out of position a couple of times and should have been punished. Was quite good on attack though.
Alexandre Song | 7.5: Made a number of tackles on both Emmanuelson and Van Bommel breaking up many of AC Milan’s attacks, particularly in the opening half.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 9.0: A brilliant performance by the young Englishman. Who would have though that he is only 18. Great corner for Koscielny’s first and a super run to earn Arsenal a penalty for their third. Although he faded a little after receiving a knock, before that it was flawless. (75′)
Tomas Rosicky | 8.0: It was another superb performance from the Czech. It is amazing that he has been so absent from the Arsenal team for the last few seasons. Great distribution and drive from midfield, dribbling passed defenders with ease. A shame he faded due to fatigue later in the match.
Theo Walcott | 6.0: It is shame he had to be subbed because he seemed like the likeliest source of a goal in the second half. Was relatively quiet for much of the match apart from a few glimpses. (83′)
Robin van Persie | 7.0: Captain Vantastic tried to capitalise on every opportunity handed to him and converted a great penalty. Although in saying this the Dutchman missed a sitter after Gervinho’s blocked shot fell to him just outside the six-yard box.
Gervinho | 6.0: Wasn’t as influential as I thought he might be on attack besides his one chance around the hour mark that Van Persie should have converted.
- Notable substitions
No notable substitutions
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