“Dear Mr Ramsey. Are you Lampard in disguise?”. Granted, you need to notch up quite a few more deflected goals, but keep doing that ghosted-run-in-the-box thing. We like it, especially when you do – what was that again? – Was it a flying volley? Yeah, who cares how the goals go in, we just want the ball hitting the back of the net from the assist machines behind you. Keep playing like this and I’ll personally walk to Ivan Gazidis office and urge him to offer you a few more bob in your contract because it’s worth it. I’ll also encourage him to sell you if you revert to type and go soft on us.
What about the man Lacazette? Is it only me or is this fella hell bent on lifting the Europa League Cup at his former home? That would be a lovely home-coming, wouldn’t it? It’s great to have Lacazette back. There’s just something about his style; his dangerous movement in and around the box, his link-up play, and for sure, his calm and ruthless demeanour to finish moves when he sees the whites of the keeper’s eyes. The mind boggles as to why folks are worried how Lacazette and Aubameyang will be fitted in the same team. Who cares? As long as they’re both scoring goals, they play.
A Job Ain’t Nothing But Work
The job last night was to put clear daylight between Arsenal and CSKA Moscow. The job was completed in style, the panache and verve oozing out of the attacking display. Clearly, the Muscovites didn’t read the memo on how to park the bus against Arsenal. There was a refreshing kamikaze-esque approach to their game, playing right into Arsenal’s hands. The Gunners rode their luck on several occasions during the first half making you wonder whether we were heading for a cricket score. The visitors should have heeded the warning when Ramsey’s goal was disallowed for a justifiable offside.
It only took a few minutes more, our German Maestro conducting the midfield Orchestra while having a game of his life. A probe to Li’l Jack here, a tap back there, a slide to Little Belly Button for a first-time cross for Ramsey to Sweep in. You’re thinking – 9 minutes, we have a game here. Arsenal are Arsenal though, and sure enough, Mustafi’s agricultural clearance, when it was easier to leather the ball into the stands forced Koscielny into a moment of madness and giving CSKA a lifeline.
If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again
Ah Well! Back to square one and advantage CSKA Moscow with an away goal. Aleksandr Golovin’s free kick from Koscielny’s foul on him was a statement of intent. Nothing Cech could have done, and to be honest, a free kick like that deserves to hit the back of the net. If it was Ozil or Li’l Jack’s shot, we would have been waxing lyrical about the technique, the swerve and the dip into the top corner.
Ozil must have remembered that doing that driving-in-the-box-thing at full pelt can yield results. You’re thinking, twice in one week? Again, the ref didn’t give the penalty as was the case with Stoke, the assistant gave it. Platini’s 5th men behind the goal do have their purpose you know. Cool as Ice, Lacazette send Igor Akinfeev the wrong way to restore a bit of order.
Credit to CSKA, they clearly didn’t know they were beaten and kept at it. That was to be their undoing as they gave the Freedom of Ashburton Grove to Ozil, Li’l Jack and Mkhitaryan. Ozil’s excellent vision and execution totally combined with Ramsey’s ghosting run and spectacular decision making. Spotting Akinfeev advancing and deciding to do his flying flick volley with the outside of his boot certainly made that third goal a candidate for Arsenal’s individual and team goal of the season. It reminded me of one of my favourite Arsenal goals; Eduardo’s backheel volley against Burnley in the FA Cup.
We’ve got think big Mo, let’s have the consistency
Considering how this season has gone, it’s great that we’ve drawn first blood in this quarter-final tie. Three goals without reply for CSKA at home against Arsenal is a tall order and gives the Gunners an advantage. But the job ain’t done until the fat lady sings. She’s still very much in the bath and not about to get out and dress until we get to Moscow next week. Meanwhile, there’s that small matter of Southampton checking in on Sunday afternoon.
We’ve got the momentum and save for Aubameyang to replace the injured Mkhitaryan, we should continue with the same team. Winning feels good, doesn’t it? Considering that there’s only a maximum of 11 games left this season, there’s absolutely no reason to change a winning side.
I expect Arsenal to make it to the semi-final from this position. I’m now also of the view that if we do, I’d like us to face Atletico Madrid in the semis. Here me out. We’re good at home and have a great chance of beating them. The away game can be the cup final – the one-off game where anything can happen. Why not give ourselves a better chance of winning by hedging on our home form?
Have a great weekend good people.