The resurgence continues. As Arsenal stepped off the grass of the Emirates last night, the number of positive vibes around the stadium were at a month-long high. Being on the right side of a 5-1 beating for once, the Gunners had managed to get back some of their mojo. It only makes sense then, that the media tries to take it away.
The main topic of discussion was the unilaterally accepted ‘dive’ by Danny Welbeck in the first half. Except for the 5th official, everyone around the world knew and was baffled by the awarding of the penalty. However, the problem started when Arsenal scored more goals and yet the world only seemed to remember one of the five.
The common consensus that “Arsenal got lucky” is frankly baffling to me. The game was sure finely poised at that moment, but they still had the lead-and were playing at home. To say outright “Milan would have won if not for the penalty” is downright ignorant and biased. Don’t take my word, take Gattuso’s: “No alibis, referees make mistakes like players. Milan lost qualification in the first leg“.
It is confusing to believe that people forget just how many times Arsenal have had much worse refereeing calls against them in Europe. If Murphy’s law mostly applies to the North London team, it was about time Newton’s 3rd law worked for them as well. More so, the local media should probably be happy of the Gunners progress-given how badly the English co-efficient is falling these years.
And at the very least, be considerate at how honest the Arsenal fans are about the dive. Unlike professional managers who promote other English “best-in-the-world” young players, going around saying diving is essentially good for the sport.
Returning Lacazette and trip to Moscow
Finally, after an age of the shoddiest draws in Europe, Arsenal seemed to have been given a fair one. CSKA Moscow will host the Gunners in the second leg of the quarter finals, by when Arsene Wenger will be hoping Sporting CP would have pulled off a miracle against Atletico.
The good news for Wenger and co will be the returning Lacazette from the next round onward. Having Aubameyang cup-tied might just make it easy for Wenger to rotate his two top strikers in the remaining months-and get the best out of both.
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AS IT HAPPENED: UEFA Champions League and Europa League draws
With Mkhitaryan looking set at home and Ozil coming back into his own, it would be foolish to completely rule out Arsenal going all the way. Atletico Madrid remain the absolute favorites for sure, but perhaps luck is flowing London’s way.
Wenger will now know this is his only option to get Champions League football back at the Emirates. It stands to reason all his efforts from now until the end of the season will be to keep replicating the Italian job his troops just pulled off.