Game in a Sentence

A valiant effort from Arsenal fell painfully short, as blood, sweat and even vomit could not keep
them from going out of the Champions League at the expense of a fortunate AC Milan.

Observations

  • Few gave Arsenal any hope of making the tie a contest after getting battered 4-0 in Milan.  Fewer still gave
    them a chance of actually winning the tie. But a pulsating 1st half display nearly produced a classic night
    at The Emirates.
  • The crowd at The Emirates was rocking at kickoff, and gave Arsenal them the early lift they needed. Both
    sides put out attacking lineups.  Obvious from Arsenal, somewhat surprising from Max Allegri and AC.
  • Brendan Dunlop chose to go to the Valley to see Charlton-Colchester, passing up on this match. Fun!
  • Arsenal desperately needed an early goal to feed the crowd, and they got just that on 6 minutes. Oxlade-
    Chamberlain’s corner  was headed in by an unmarked Laurent Koscielny. Nice start.
  • On 10 minutes, the sizzling Robin Van Persie tested Christian Abbiati who saved with his legs.
  • By the 15th minute mark there had been 3 bookings. Van Bommel for Milan, and both Arsenal
    wing-backs, Sagna and Gibbs. All 3 now had to be very careful not to be sent off.
  • Abbiati was alert again on 19 minutes to deny a curling RVP effort from the top of the box. The warning
    signs that Arsenal were going to be a force continued.
  • Arsenal needed another goal before half-time.  And they were gifted one on 26 minutes. The usually solid
    Thiago Silva played an awful clearance right in to the path of the reinvigorated Tomas Rosicky, who
    side-footed it in and nearly blew the lid of the usually subdued Emirates.
  • 2-0 at halftime would give Arsenal a chance… but it got better.
  • Djamel Mesbah, who looked out of his depth all night, blocked off the Ox as he broke in to the box. PEN.
  • RVP stepped up. After a slight delay to get the ball back on the spot. He looked very nervous. I thought
    he might miss. He canned an unstoppable penalty top right. Ok then. 3-0. Incredible.
  • Stephan El-Shaarawy  missed a great chance to possibly put the tie away just before the half. He shot
    wide though, ensuring the HT team talks would be incredibly interesting.
  • HT thoughts: AC were so loose in possession in the 1st half.
  • Allegri’s team selection had to be questioned now.
  • It almost seemed that Arsenal were favourites as the 2nd half kicked off, such had been their dominance.
  • The reversal form the dominance AC displayed in the 1st leg was simply staggering.
  • For all of Arsenal’s dominance, there was always the fact that 1 AC goal meant Arsenal
    would need 6 on the night.
  • Arsenal continued on the front foot, looking to level the tie at 4.  In the 59th minute they wasted a glorious
    chance to do just that. Gervinho’s deflected shot was well saved by Abbiati’s legs, before Van Persie tried
    to chip him on the rebound. Tough to question RVP, but he should have blasted it home. Too cute.
  • Minutes later Wojciech Szczesny almost killed the tie for AC, as he gave the ball away to Ibra, who fired
    wide. A let-off for Arsenal.
  • AC finally got a foothold in the match, looking more composed as the half wore on.
  • 77 minutes in, and another chance for AC to put it to bed. Antonio Nocerino shot straight at  Szczesny
    when it would have been easier to score from 3 yards out. You sensed it would bite them in the AC.
  • What-ifs flooded my brain. What if RVP wasn’t denied by a brilliant save in the 1st leg. What if Ibra didn’t
    tack on a late penalty in that same match. Arsenal still had a chance though.
  • Chamakh and Park Chu-Young were brought on as Arsenal searched for a hero to take it to Extra-time.
  • It wasn’t to be though. They couldn’t muster a clear-cut chance, as the match fizzled to a finish.
  • Arsenal’s desire can not be questioned. I’d call it a moral victory, but I hate that term. Damn it.
  • Almost worse for Arsenal fans, as it must have seemed it was going to be their night. Alas a
    prospective famous night ended up as simply a fantastic match, with AC progressing as anticipated.
    Just.

 

Three Stars

1.  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
2. Tomas Rosicky
3. Theo Walcott

Match stats here.