Arsenal fans always seem to find the silver lining; it’s our gift. Our ability to find the silver lining has created the fourth place trophy. It has also created other forms of denial, “lack of fixture congestion” and “we had nothing to play for anyway.” The latter two are true of getting knocked out, but it’s not my primary focus.
While many readers may disagree with my backhanded compliment, I am sure that everyone has seen such a phrase come up on their timeline or even tried to justify the phrase themselves without saying it in public. Today’s piece is not about preaching but stating some great things we learned yesterday that are not silver linings. They are facts of the match that the players will be reminded of back at London Colney, here are your takeaways
First, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain showed us what a player trying to earn a starting birth is capable of. Yes, Chambo put in a first rate performance, but the intensity and conviction he showed in his play was better than any match previous to this. To see him single handedly drive through the Bayern midfield and defence as many times as he did (10) is impressive for a player as young as he is. His fearless play and his efforts to get back and interrupt the Bayern counter attack shows a player truly motivated to earn a spot on the first team start sheet. I was hoping that Yaya Sanogo would have started (not healthy) because he would have been similarly motivated.
Second, Arsenal, with a full squad were able to hold Bayern 0-0 at home and 1-1 away. If the first match had stayed 11v11 (as Arsene Wenger pleaded for the away leg), maybe Arsenal had enough in the tank to do the trick. That should be something to consider, that we can run with the big boys. The score draw was also a stronger Bayern squad (ok, maybe a silver lining). Also, Arsenal managed to play the match in a manner that we would agree is much classier (start ranting). Arjen Robben’s dive and soft legs reminded us of the classless player we are reluctant to see in opposing sides. Javi Martinez also fell over with minimal contact, if any. Holding his cheekbone and eye after getting a flick to his ear suggests that he already had serious nerve damage to his face, most people would feel the ear, but I guess he’s not most people.
Third, Wenger can change his tactics a bit. I think many of us were surprised to see Wenger line up with a pure 4-3-3 where he used two wingers. This season we have seen more midfielders used wide to create the illusion of a 4-3-3 when it really has felt like a 4-5-1.
If you read my previous article you saw that I preferred to deprioritise the Champions League after the first leg. I stand by that, the starting lineup for the second leg was stronger than I would have preferred, but I was happy to see the squad fight, and fight well. The team, despite being knocked out, will be reminded by the staff about the things I have written about hear and with two more days rest than Tottenham, will be poised for success this Sunday.
Onward and Upward!
Arsenal Canada Chair