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The first review of the almost miracle night at the Emirates

Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.  The most definitive book ever on the history of Arsenal’s early days and the move to Highbury.  Information here

How the modern Arsenal was born in 1910.  “Making the Arsenal”

We’re on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

By Walter Broeckx

A few weeks ago, after the defeat at AC Milan I wanted to write an article about ref Kassai.  For those with some kind of memory they will remember him from that shameful game at Braga last season. Yes the game where he refused to give a blatant penalty for a foul on Vela. He even gave Vela a yellow card.  When I saw his name for the game at AC Milan I was afraid he might do us one again.

And he didn’t disappoint me. Because a small incident at that time seemed not important. We were 4-0 down and desperately trying to do something back. Van Persie got the ball, controlled it with his chest and then a Milan defender pulled him back and down to the ground. My match reporter (a non English reporter) couldn’t believe that the ref didn’t point at the penalty spot. It should have been a penalty and it could and should  have been 4-1.

But I then decided not to write about it. I thought it was over and you know I don’t want to sound too much of a moaner about the refs. I did mention it in the comments after the game. And a few others pointed at it also. And that my Gooners was the Busacca-moment (Copyright Untold Arsenal) of this year’s Champions League.

So once again a wrong decision from the refs has been the reason we are out of the Champions League. If it wouldn’t be for the money we earn by it I wonder why we bother to get in to it as each year the refs con us out of it. Last year because of the fact that the designated winner was on the point of getting out. This year because well I think they dream of a final Milan-Barcelona.  Kassai made it clear: there would be no chance for Arsenal to come back from that defeat.

But look at this tonight. What a match. Or should I say: WHAT A PITCH!! Because this game was played on a football pitch. You know one with real grass on it. One as flat as a billiard cloth. A pitch with no bumps. A pitch where a player can control the ball when it comes to him without having to find his balance. For those who think it doesn’t play a part, from now on you should know better.

The game started and we were in complete control for 45 minutes. Our emergency midfield was excellent. Rosicky was…. well world class. He fought 90 minutes for everything he had in his body. And then to think that he was doubtful before the game. I take a bow Tomas. A deep bow.

We got that all important early goal. Vermaelen and Rosicky changed position and the Milan defenders couldn’t cope with it and Koscielny scored like it was on training. We kept on pressurising Milan and they could hardly get near to Szczesny. A part from a few harmless crosses. At the other end some good pressure lead to Rosicky and Van Persie combining but they couldn’t finish the move.  Arsenal was all over Milan. And when Theo made a run his cross was diverted in to the feet of the in my opinion best player on the pitch Rosicky. He buried it with a nice finish in the bottom corner. 2-0 and half an hour played.

I could hear the Emirates rocking till here and my match reporters suddenly saw a big comeback on the cards. When Oxlade-Chamberlain made a great run between two defenders in the penalty area they closed the door and brought him down. A clear cut penalty but it took the ref about 5 seconds to make up his mind.  And it looked as if the 5th assistant told him he should give what was a clear penalty. Why this hesitation ref? Not in your script? Anyway he gave it and despite AC Milan and the ref trying to do anything they could to distract Van Persie he converted the penalty in style. 3-0 at half time and lucky Milan missed their only real chance in the extra time.

What followed was a classic game. Milan knew they had to do something and changed their formation and became more dangerous. The best chance for Arsenal came to the one person you wanted it to come to. Robin Van Persie…..and he missed when the ball came back from the keeper. Hat of for the Milan keeper for that save as he looked beaten at first. It was the chance of the match to make it 4. It didn’t happen.

And then the legs became tired. Oxlade-Chamberlain got a knock and had to be taken off. Walcott a bit later also got a knock when he was clearly fouled by two Milan players but somehow the ref only wanted to give fouls to Milan in that second half for a while.

Milan got a big chance to score themselves but when you are used to play on a dump I think the player was surprised about the fact that the ball did what it did on a normal pitch and he missed from close range and gave the ball to Szczesny.

We tried everything we could but the 4th goal didn’t come. My match reporter was hoping for extra time as he said that Arsenal for their performance deserved at least the extra time. The ref would hardly give normal extra time.

But my boy am I proud to be a Gooner right now. Our players played with their heart. Our players showed that on a normal football pitch they wouldn’t have been beaten like that. A 3-0 would have been enough if ref Kassai wouldn’t have had his Bussacca-moment. And this was the last thing I wanted in fact.

The boys did us proud today. They showed what they are really made of. And this with even a few of our most influential midfielders in the team like Arteta and Ramsey.  It was almost a miracle what they did. But miracles don’t happen that much in real life. But still, thanks for showing what the real Arsenal is worth today. This was a top class performance against the current league leaders in Italy. A team that hadn’t lost away from home in the CL, not even in Barcelona.

So a great performance from our team. So despite going out of the CL I can only say:  Thanks boys, you made  us proud.

Oh, and thank you Gooners in the Emirates for your great support until the last minute. You see we can beat everyone when the supporters get behind the team.

52 comments to The first review of the almost miracle night at the Emirates

  • pontus

    Fantastic game! Now let’s play spuds out of top 3!

  • Mandy dodd

    Agree with all you say, the players and fans were superb. Being honest, out main aim has to be the top three or four, for all sorts of very good reasons which may not yet even be apparent. with the injuries we are picking up, anything else could stretch us.
    The players should be so proud of that performance. Shame arshavin did not show more patience but guess he had his reasons.
    Now, we concentrate on what will not be a trophy but which could be a bronze medal position, however our detractors dress it up.
    This team need all the backing they can get, they will be up against some good teams and our perennial enemy. As Gerry Adams once said about an all together different organisation, I will say about the pgmol. ” they haven’t gone away you know!”
    Expect more of dowd dean Webb probert et al, and hope we have the resources to overcome, as we did in our last two league games, and just failed to do this evening.

  • jbh

    Put the loss down to the FA/FIFA. 4 games in 9 days including 3 away (including the ridiculous Intl friendly). As AW said no other team in the world is given a schedule like that.
    What a disgrace that AC Milan for all their supposed history need to resort to doctoring pitches to win.
    Time wasting, ref bias. Football has become a joke.
    Anyway, all credit to AW and the team for giving everything and trying to play the game the right way.

  • Ruaridh

    has the ox moved ahead of rambo in the ATM position? (this is of course if Rosicky is unavailable)

    Think rambo is more suited to playing beside song, linking deeper midfield to the advanced midfielders with his robustness…

  • The Spartan

    Proud Gooner – Love Arsenal – Heads up.

  • bjtgooner

    Good review Walter; great attempt by the team – hope our appreciation is somehow conveyed to them.

  • akasuna

    Thank you flying Gunners!! You made my day..off to sleep//

  • bob

    Walter,
    A Bussacca moment and a surfeit of Dean-Time
    (minus the dance, being too dim to put steps together).

  • WalterBroeckx

    In a way a small 1-0 win wouldn’t have been such a heart breaking result. We would have won, restored a bit of pride.
    But now we were so close to it that it also feels more disappointing than a 1-0 win would have felt.

  • WalterBroeckx

    In 10 days we have beaten the spuds, Liverpool and MIlan scoring 10 goals in total
    And in those 10 days the majority of our players had to travel around the world to play some stupid f*cking internationals…

    Now let us hope the knocks from Theo and The Ox are not too bad…

  • Was Rosicky rocking or what? Definitely my Man Of The Match.

  • Mandy dodd

    Hopefully this team will know they are now more than a match for anyone. As you say, hope theo and ox not too bad. Song looked a bit laboured, but probably just too many games. Think vermaelen will have some very sore ribs after mixes body checking, which the ref ignored. Wonder if Chelsea will get officiating like that against napoli?

    We now have I think until next Monday to get the players ready, have a feeling they will be up for Newcastle, wrongs have to be righted in that game. Just hope we have a few mfs left to play!

  • T2T

    The effort we put in today, and against Spurs, need to be repeated in every remaining game.

  • Iyke oriji

    I love this club better days to come keep up the faith lets keep us in good position to start next season with some good few buys……..right now lets end 3rd beat man-city and Chelsea for me i love arsenal…..and lastly no coach can take care of my club like Arsene

  • Gooner Gal

    Good write up Walter. The players can walk away with their heads held high. I love my team and manager.

    Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal, Arrssenalllll!

  • Mandy dodd

    Strange, looks to me like the team are really playing for wenger, have they been given a wake up call? A fright? Or do we just have two very good full backs returned to the side. Hopefully, rvp will be offered the right deal, and see how close this side are to winning things. Injuries and refs are costing us dear as ever but if we can finish the season well, hopefully that momentum will go into next season.
    This club holds its head high at a time when a rivals chronic mismanagement makes it a laughing stock , another rival and great historical club has clearly overspent on some very poor players, and will have to spend another fortune replacing them, another rival is in a bit of a tizzy over begging for stadium funds ,and at a time when big, traditional clubs are starting to fail, with extremely sad consequences for their staff, fans and communities.. Maybe the arsenal way is not as bad as most would have us believe

  • WalterBroeckx

    according to the brother of theo Walcott he should be okay as it was just a dead leg. It was a bad kick from Van Bommel and the ref just didn’t give a foul…. horrible…

  • Gunne

    WELL DONE ARSENAL TEAM!!! Both AC Milan coach, players & fans won‘t forget ARSENAL easily. That was good football at emirate stadium. Ac milan who?????? They can‘t match arsenal anytime, anyday.

  • Mandy dodd

    Van bommel was on a yellow , but he seemed to know he could get away with what he did to theo, as did Mexes with vermaelen. Just hope none of them did vp, it would not be through lack of trying.
    I thought this years final would be two of the obvious three, real, barca or home team bayern, but seeing the favours Milan had, I do wonder?

  • Gord

    As usual, I just had thee old BBC to follow. No pictures.

    Some comments people here at Untold have made about the OX, this comment by Wenger after the game might be of interest.

    2214: Wenger on Oxlade-Chamberlain: “He was sick last night and we weren’t sure he could play because he had flu. We checked him in the warm up and he was outstanding. It was difficult for him to play at this level in middle of midfield because he usually plays on the flanks but he did very well.”

    Maybe I am just sensitive, or perhaps you English use the word futile differently than I do. But various things at the BBC had futile in their description of the lead up to the game, half time, or the summary after the game. To me, futile suggests that Wenger should have phoned Milan a couple of days ago and just given them the game. I think that if the BBC represents Britain, the employees of the BBC should remember who signs their paychecks and at least try to be fair in describing things.

    There are some twits on twitter who sent their twits in. A selection of interesting and bad:

    20:07
    > “The referee is going to ruin this game (Arsenal v AC Milan).”

    20:41
    > “From 33/1 odds to 5/6 Arsenal, this game has truly overturned! Am a proud gunner.”

    > “I actually turned down tickets to this… The 2nd leg was worthless surely? I fear I’ve made a hall of fame bad decision here!”

    20:52
    > “C’mon Arsenal, get 5! Only so Milan can score in the 90th min sending you back where you belong!”

    21:26
    > “If the scoreline stays the same Arsenal deserve ZERO credit. A loss is a loss, however “brave” it might be.”

    The last two are obviously not Arsenal fans. But why do people feel the need to send this in during a game? Sure, if they are at a pub with a bunch of people, throw nonsense out like this. If someone doesn’t like it, maybe a fight starts. Just stupid to be part of the records of the BBC.

  • duduspace

    The players made everyone associated with Arsenal proud tonight. They really did want it and gave it their all.
    Bonds of brotherhood are forged at times like this and I believe we have the foundation in place to compete better in the PL next season particularly when Arsene enhances the team as I expect him to over the summer.

  • Anne

    @bjtgooner:

    I was there, and believe me that the fans paid their respects to the team! They were sung off the pitch so loudly that it drowned out the Emirates PA system 🙂

    Everyone was holding up their Arsenal scarves, and nobody left until the last Arsenal player had walked off the pitch. We kept them out there for a good 10 minutes too just cheering them. And then there was a 45 minute line for the Arsenal tube station, and everyone was still singing.

    It’s a shame that we didn’t advance tonight, but what a great match. And what a great crowd. Whatever the outcome, I was proud to be there 🙂

  • Anne

    And I’m hoping to write this up more coherently eventually… But damn… It was a great match… 🙂

  • Damien Luu

    Just amazing! Remember, AC Milan was well prepared for our assault, and they are a top Italian side, but they could do nothing to stop us. Without the help from refs in both legs, and from their hideous pitch, we would have beaten them with only a half of our first team.

    Big credit to the team. At 4-0 down in CL anyone could easily give up but not these guys. I have no hesitation saying that this Arsenal team have the greatest fighting spirit that we have seen (and wanted) for years. Maybe this is not the best team we’ve ever had but boy, I LOVE them.

  • Anne

    @Gooner Gal:

    Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal, Arrssenalllll!

  • Mahesh

    Well… Italian teams need their coefficient boost. UEFA knows it. And is willing to provide it at the expense of English teams.

  • Mahesh

    And we kept a clean sheet.. yay!

  • Goonerdhanesh

    Absolute cracker yesterday at the emirates. and excellent article propelling the mistakes of the ref that paved the way for Milan to enter the Q/F.

    Hats off to the players who played with full enthusiasm and heart. at least as you said they deserved to play the extra time.

    PROUD TO BE A GOONER.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I will try to keep it on my hard disk this game Dogface and try to review it after the season. good idea. Now just hope my wife doesn’t delete it…

  • Asif

    WOW…was some game! Really proud of the way the team played…it just makes me wonder what would be like if AW had all the players at his disposal. Ox’s injury in the 2nd took the wind out of our sail and I can only wish if we had a Diaby or an Arteta or Rambo to replace him…so close! But well done boys, our first half half performance had the hallmark of a great team and we definitely have a bright future!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Indeed Asif if we had only one of Arteta, Benayou, Ramsey or Diaby on the bench it would have made a lot of difference.

    We only had two midfielders left after The Ox (what a player he is going to be) had to leave the field.

  • Walter, thank you so much for putting this up last night.

    Weekday matches mean I don’t get home until midnight, and am usually tired, but last night I felt utterly exhausted and woke this morning feeling that I had been there. I think I must have kicked every ball.

    Just as we kicked off I said to Stefan and Ian who sit next to me, imagine the tension we are going to suffer if we get to 3-0… and so it was. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

    Anne – really glad you had such a game for your first trip to the Ems.

  • Timmy

    “We can beat anyone in the country and in Europe so it’ll give us a lot of confidence,”

    “I wouldn’t settle now for fourth place. We’re four points behind the other north London club, we can challenge them, Chelsea can challenge them as well, and I’ll be really pleased to see Tottenham in the Europa League next season.” Szczesny

  • Mahdain

    what a game last night which made me feel really proud and honoured to be an arsenal fan..shame we didnt go through but the lads can hold their heads high as in the end it was the stupid refs and a pathetic atrocious pitch that was the difference..somebody rightly said on twitter last night it was the milan groundsmen that were the men of the tie..stupid twats

  • Mahdain

    the only way is now forward..lets beat newcastle and howard webb on monday and go on to get 3rd spot..up and forward is the only way.

  • Stevie E

    Forgot to add – cheating corrupt bastards

  • The only problem with Wenger(Arsenal) is that he can never buy off Refs,imagine if that was Berlusconi in the stands!!! Milan could have won by2 penalties.
    But as i wrote after the Milan(You can check in the Archives after the game) i knew we would make it but alas we did not but the support from the Emirates was the best i have ever witnessed.Keep it up Gunners

  • The Blaze

    I knew that Milan could get caught out. The comments before the game showed that the team felt the same thing, they never thought that they were out. To me, Milan does not deserve the qualification. We showed that we are much better than them. A shame that we had our worst game in a long time in that first leg.

  • insideright

    Re this so called ‘new found spirit’ – could it be that the departure of Arshavin has had anything to do with it?
    The difference between his efforts for the team and those of Rosicky, Chamberlain, Gervinho (any one of whom might not have played had Arshavin still been around) is obvious. And Koscielny’s comment about playing for each other seemed, to me at least, quite pointed.

  • DarthWenger

    Seems like Rocisky is getting a lot of plaudits from fans and media alike for his performance in the last few games. Seems like he is finally recapturing the form when we first bought him.
    I guess Wenger was right (as he always is)in keeping faith in so called “dead wood” like Van Persie, Rocisky, Koscielny, Song etc etc

  • Sammy The Snake

    Couldn’t have asked for more from our boys. We’re proud of you.

  • Ruaridh

    Double fist pump from Wenger- best momemt of the night

  • ak47

    perfect result in so many ways. thanks again lads.
    now go get third. ssshhhh.

  • Chad

    What a performance. I cannot wait for Oxlade-Chamberlain & Wilshire to be paired together. We’ll have a midfield that most teams only dream about.

  • gooner murphy

    just watched the game on R,T E TV some very very intresting comment form Liam Brady regarding Arsenal’s future plans find it on http://www.rte.ie go the iplayer sport section look for champions league, great analysis of the match from the panel note the Arsenal game is after the Lyon matgh so you can surf right to it

  • AFCThick/Thin

    Mancini tapping up 1 of our players again…

  • WalterBroeckx

    Because many people asked it we did a ref review of the Arsenal Milan game and will try to do also the first leg.

    I must say I was blown away by the numbers. On here soon…stay on line…

    Dogface over to you 😉

  • Righto… I’ll look at it now and gen up the tables.

  • done – all yours.

  • Persian gunner

    When you win a game, you’re happy
    But, when you win a game like this, you are in love!

  • Ong Bing

    I was so down, I getting sick 2 days after the game. We are so close, but after fantastic first half, we getting tired, I am not blame our player, I think they already do their best, who don’t want to go next round of UCL?

    Arsene said in a few times before, cup game is little bit gambling, sometimes you get lucky in the right moment, I believe if Arteta there that night, Song and Gervinho on song, the story will be different.

    I never saw Song playing very bad before this game. And Gervinho never good after back from African Cup Nation.