For most Arsenal fans leaving the Emirates Stadium yesterday, the emotions would have been of relief and delight that their side had managed to claw back a two-goal deficit against the kings of Europe, Barcelona.
After the Catalan giants had dominated for so long and had created a succession of glorious goal-scoring opportunities, it was something of a miracle for Arsenal to come away with a 2-2 scoreline.
But Arsene Wenger will not be happy. The Frenchman will be harboring serious regrets over his approach to a Champions League quarterfinal which could define their season.
The Arsenal manager decided to start Theo Walcott on the bench, only unleashing the flying winger with a quarter of the game to go. Walcott scored within minutes of his arrival and played a part in the winning of Fabregas’ converted penalty. Frustrating.
The Arsenal manager decided to risk Cesc Fabregas and William Gallas when both had just returned from injury, but by the end both had hobbled off and both will now miss the remainder of the campaign. Catastrophic.
In what has promised for so long to be Arsenal’s best season since they moved to the Emirates Stadium, a season which could finally stop talk of no trophy since 2005, the injuries to two of the squad’s most talented and experienced players could prove to be hurdles too high to jump over for such a young Arsenal side.
Fabregas will not be present on the team sheet at the Nou Camp next Tuesday, leaving room for Walcott to take a starting role. The starlet ripped open Barcelona’s defense after his late introduction last night, leaving Wenger with severe regrets over not using him from the first whistle.
In the second-leg next week, at least one of Wenger’s regrets can be put right if Walcott is unleashed on the right-wing from the start. But the injuries to Gallas and Fabregas are irreparable and Wenger must be cursing himself for risking the pair last night. Regret fills the soul of Arsene Wenger.