After making them look like vintage Chelsea under Jose Mourinho and sparking off speculations that Eldin Jakupović might just be the heir to Buffon’s throne, Arsenal finally did the business against Hull City at the KC stadium and progressed to the next stage of the competition but, the triumph came at a price that further emphasized the needlessness of the second leg.
Arsenal lost three senior players in Aaron Ramsey, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista to injury and finished the game with a defence that consisted of Nacho Monreal and Callum Chambers at the heart, and the duo of Flamini and Kieran Gibbs as full backs.
On the surface, it does look like the loss outweighed the victory but on a second look, it would be realized that Arsenal did themselves a lot of good with the win and a number of positives can be gleaned from it.
A brace for Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud ensured that Arsenal got an emphatic win and that is great news. If he hadn’t scored in that game, it would have been eight full weeks since Olivier Giroud last scored for Arsenal. Without a doubt, those two goals he got will lift his spirit and give him a reassured feeling that he can score goals elsewhere other than his bed – Congrats on the new baby, Giroud –
The likes of El Neny, Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell can also build on the confidence they got from the game going forward. Joel Campbell put in a decent performance that will now make it difficult for Arsene Wenger to place him on the bench without having to do some explanation. With the injury to Chamberlain, it also means that Arsenal now have a – more than – worthy replacement.
Similarly, the injury to Aaron Ramsey is another positive that Arsenal can take from the game. If we are going to be honest, Aaron Ramsey has been more of an asset to Arsenal’s opponent than his club in recent games. His misplaced passes are a gift to opponents and so does his love to drive forward where he contributes nothing more than a wayward shot, leaving Francis Coquelin to the mercy of the other team’s attackers.
Not only will his injury force Wenger to give the impressive El Neny a looking, it also eliminates the option of him replacing Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right. Summarily, Wenger will have to settle for El Neny in midfield and Campbell on the right. While these guys may not necessarily do a ‘messi’, there is a high level of guarantee that they wont do worse than the players they are replacing. And that is all that matters.
Another positive to glean from the game is that Arsenal are one step closer to winning the only realistic trophy they are still in contention for. Recent form and results have shown that the Premier League and Champions League ambition is just a pipe dream. Arsenal are eight points behind Leicester City and three behind Tottenham – two clubs with hungrier players and better form in the League.
To win the Premier League, Arsenal will need Leicester City to go on a terrible run of form that would see them lose a number of games while they also win theirs. If it is the same Arsenal that failed to get result against Swansea at the Emirates and close the gap between themselves and the League leaders, that is very unlikely.
Also, to progress to the next stage of the UEFA Champions League, they have to overturn a two-goal deficit at the Nou Camp. As if to compound things, they will likely be doing so with a make-shift center back pairing of Callum Chambers and Laurent Koscielny. The other option is to play Per Mertesacker despite his swollen eye. Now, we all know that even with a good sight, Mertesacker stands no chance against the monsters that are Neymar, Suarez and Messi.
Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Arsenal are out of the Champions League. What are we left with? The FA Cup. Like the popular saying here goes – half bread is better than chin chin.
For you Arsenal fan reading this with contempt, remember that it could be worse. Manchester United are strongly positioned to finish outside the top four, win nothing and fail to play in the Champions League next season. You know the amount they spent on players, right? And you also know that Arsene bought only Cech, right? Good.
The injuries, no doubt, are a big blow – except that of Ramsey, of course -. It limits Arsenal’s option on the bench and will mean that they have to play less-preferred players. Despite all of that though, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The fans can find solace in the fact that Arsenal will likely go on to win the FA Cup title, making Wenger the most successful manager as far as the competition is concerned while also repeating Blackburn’s record of winning three consecutive FA Cup titles.
Another record! And we know that Arsenal fans love records. Even more than trophies.
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