AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal
There's something we neither expected nor wanted. It was always going to be a hard fixture, but we are better than this. Shortly after Kevin-Prince Boateng (an ex Sp**s player, to make it all the more painful) thundered a shot onto the crossbar and over the line, Ibrahimovic was released by a great ball and he ran past Sagna with ease. Yes, he was, debatably offside but no way should he have been allowed to run into our box unchallenged like that. He continued his unchallenged run into the box with a bit of trickery, before chipping the ball into the centre for Robinho to head home. Half time, and we were 2-0 down, already. We had barely got the ball in the Milan half, let alone threaten their goal, Abbiati might as well have not been there.
However, this was a chance. A chance for the Arsenal side to show what they are made of, to show the promised 'resilience and spirit' that Wenger so often comments on. The tie was far from over, an away goal would change the look of the game completely. And the introduction of Saturday's hero at Sunderland Thierry Henry was a very positive one. Particularly when you consider the little, if no impact that Theo Walcott had on the first half. Rosicky and Walcott, our two wingers for the first half, really might as well have not been there. Wenger complained about the state of the pitch (which was, by the way, horrendous), particularly the strips on the wing. Well, rightfully, he made no big deal of it after the game, as our winger's were pretty much anonymous anyway.
The chance went begging. In fact, it was just four minutes into the second half that Milan seized the chance to grab the killer goal. From here it looked an uphill battle, to say the least. Any fightback would have been impressive, but it was far from impossible. Even had we scored one, we would have left ourselves a realistic chance of qualifying for the quarter finals. And to be fair, we did start to pressure them a bit from now. Most notable was a lofted ball to Henry, from which he produced a lovely flick on to Robin van Persie's left boot, and he volleyed at Abbiati's goal, producing a fine save (which he celebrated as a goal!).
The introduction to the scene of fan favourite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would have been welcomed by any Gooner watching, but even he failed to produce much on the night. It wasn't until the 79th minute that Milan finally put the game, and more importantly, the tie, completely to bed. Ibrahimovic surged into the box, and went over under the slightest of challenges from the clumsy Djourou. To be fair to Djourou, it did look a bit soft, but you just cannot take those risks in your own box. Surely enough he slotted past Sczcesny, putting the icing on the cake for the home side.
We can count ourselves lucky that it was only four, on another day it could so easily have been more. Our defence looked shaky for the entirity, and this may have had something to do with Gibbs returning from injury. This left Vermaelen and Song having to constantly cover him rather than think about their own respective duties. This may have had something to do with Vermaelen's unusual sloppy performance.
This has, inevitably sparked more 'Wenger out' fans into life. Fair enough, everyone is entitled to their views, but it does seem as though Arsenal fans are changing their mind about the boss every game. The reality is we were not going to win the Champions League, it would have taken a miracle from somewhere. Yes, it was horrible having a night like that, but in some ways I think we can take the positives from this. Whilst Chelsea might progress past a talented Napoli side, we are unlikely too, and I think this will come to our advantage in our race for fourth.
One thing's for sure, today's game at Sunderland is a must-win in what is realistically speaking our last chance of silverware. It is of the utmost importance, and we need to pick ourselves up and focus on it. And as Sunderland proved last Saturday, they are no pushovers. We won't have Thierry to come and bail us out this time, so let's see some leadership and fight, and, for once, some real quality from Theo Walcott.
Otherwise this could be season number seven...