By Walter Broeckx
One could say business as usual. Arsenal have qualified for the umpteenth time for the next stage in the Champions League in the Wenger era.
When seeing Bayern Munich against Borrussia Dortmund last Saturday I was impressed by Dortmund. They completely made it impossible for Bayern to play their normal game, and Robben and Ribery couldn’t demolish Dortmund as they usually do in the home games from Bayern. And then I thought that they could attempt the same thing with Gervinho and Walcott. And in a way they did.
The first half reminded me of a judo fight. Where the two judokas are so in balance that they both don’t go full in the attack because they want to rule out a counter attack from the other judoka. The first 45 minutes were like this and we were left thinking that maybe for Arsenal a draw was in fact not a bad result. But it would mean that Dortmund would be almost out of the CL, so Dortmund tried to catch us cold, but they never exposed themselves that much to start a counter.
Both goalkeepers had a quiet evening in that first half. Both had to rush out one time to stop a possible attack but that was almost it. Yet the game was tense and the atmosphere in the Emirates sounded lively to me in front of my TV.
In the second half Dortmund again tried to score early on. But Szczesny was well awake and stopped Kagawe. But the answer from Arsenal was stunning. Song who had received some banter from Robin Van Persie about the fact that hadn’t given him many assists and Song had said he would give one today. And what an assist. He took the ball and went to the left hand side of the field as if he was the African Arshavin. He dribbled himself past one man, a second one and then found himself surrounded by two other Dortmund players. And then he wriggled himself between/past those two and chipped the ball in the middle. Van Persie then showed he also can head a ball and put it in the net despite a last attempt of the Dortmund keeper to keep the ball out.
A bit later Gervinho looked on his way to score our second goal and when he rounded the keeper he only had to put his foot against the ball but to his surprise (and I think some 60.000 in the stadium) defender Hummler managed to kick the ball away before Gervinho could put his foot against the ball. Arsenal was working hard. Every player who lost the ball ran after his opponent in an attempt to win it back. I think this is a great quality in the team.
Dortmund tried to come back but they never really were very threatening. And when Arteta swung in a corner Vermaelen put his head against the ball and who else but Van Persie to force it over the line. Finally in the last minute of extra time Arsenal lost their concentration a bit they allowed Dortmund to score. Much to the annoyance of Szczesny who didn’t like that at all. Tell them about it Wojciech.
The final result in the other game meant that Arsenal has won group F. The last game will have no meaning for Arsenal at all. Apart from some pride maybe. But I really think we will send out a bit of a weaker team to Greece. Full of players who don’t get as many games time now.
And if we look at the bigger picture of the CL so far we can see that of all the English teams Arsenal is the only team that has qualified so far. And as winner of their group.
Manchester City is in third place and has to win their final game against Bayern Munich or they are out of the CL. Now wouldn’t that be sweet on those players who left Arsenal for more money trophies? And even if Manchester City win their game they could be out if Napoli win their last game.
Manchester United could go out of the CL if they lose at Basel. Impossible? It seems impossible, but impossible is nothing I have been told. And with Manchester United in a group with two teams from nations that are not really known as football giants this is a poor result. And if they hadn’t been allowed an offside goal they would have been in third place in their group.
And what about Chelsea? If Valencia win their game at Stamford Bridge Chelsea also could be out. Again you could say: impossible. But again I will say: impossible is nothing. Fact is unless those 3 teams win their last game they all could be out of the CL in one month time. And that is truly shocking in fact.
And then we compare this with Arsenal. Top of our group. In a group with the German champions, the Greek champions and one of the best teams in France over the last 10 years. We just won our group with one game to go.
Just imagine the grinding of the teeth by all those pundits who first said we wouldn’t qualify for the CL at all. And now we are the first English team to the next round. Amazing how our manager has turned our season around since that dreadful day in August. And amazing how the players have responded to this. If you compare this with the struggling way our other EPL teams are doing in their groups it just shows that there is only one manager in the whole world who can turn it around.
Eat your heart out all who doubted the manager and his team. And the other who have stood with their team just enjoy it and just sing with me:
We’re top of the (champions) league,
we’re top of our (champions) league
We are Arsenal
and top of the league!
Or you could sing as they sang in the stadium:
One Arsène Wenger,
there’s only one Arsène Wenger….
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