Labeled by many as a “glorious failure”, the inability of the Gunners to notch a second half goal and send the Champion’s League tie with AC Milan into extra time was just failure.
Definitely a tale of two halves, the match was very revealing for both sides. The first stanza was a wondrous adventure which was enthralling for the neutral, calamitous for the Italians and had the Gooners ecstatic. Pulling out three goals in the first 45 minutes was setting the stage for a feat comparable to the miracle of Istanbul. Any and all accolades being heaped upon the Professor and his Gunners were certainly earned.
The second half was a different story. After a riveting first half, what followed was anti climatic. Even the supporters of the Rosanerri have to be tentative about moving forward. Whoever gets AC Milan in the quarterfinals will be licking their chops.
Up 4-0 on aggregate and simply needing a goal to put the tie away, the Rosanerri squandered opportunities, surrendered three goals and literally facilitated an environment which permitted life to creep back in to the corpse that was Arsenal.
Their allowance of the game to be stretched in the center of the park and leave the door open for an Arsenal comeback was simply shocking. The next round will be their last and the Scudetto will be their sole focus if there is not drastic improvement from this encounter.
But even more disappointing on the night when all was done was Arsenal. Strange statement when there is no exaggeration in saying that the first half was the stuff of legend. It set the stage for a second half which seem fated to be embedded in the proud history of Arsenal and become Gooner folklore.
But the failure of the Gunners to seize the moment and finish a match they had a stranglehold on was simply typical of the current Arsenal. The word “disappointing” has become so attached to this club in recent history that it is only fitting that this match ended as it did.
It is well documented that Wenger and the Emirate faithful, used to claiming trophies, are currently in a drought. But their failures are always sugar coated with words like “potential, youth, slick football” and the like. Simply put, this team lacks the killer instinct.
Last year’s Carling Cup debacle confirms this observation. The Arsenal literally found a way to gift the trophy to relegation-bound Birmingham City. Ending up on the wrong side of these defining moments has become all too common for the Gunners.
With their Champions League campaign over, the Arsenal supporters will display a false sense of bravado from this match. The truth is this — Arsenal 3, AC Milan 0 — typified everything about Arsenal. Arsenal needed four goals. First half captivation evolved into second half capitulation. Gifted a lifeline by a shaky Rosanerri side, Arsenal did what has become customary; they squandered it and came up short.
Even more revealing in the second half was that other the Van Persie rebound smartly saved by Abiati, Arsenal was impotent. There was nothing encouraging on offer as it seemed the energy just left them. No driving force, leadership or inspiration to finish what they had so brilliantly started. It seems that there always comes a moment when the moment is too big for this Arsenal team. It is only fitting that this March match came in like a lion and went out like a lamb.