At one point during the first half, I fell asleep thinking of Daniela Bianchi. The spectacular image of her Bond Girl character Tatiana Romanova being caressed and loved up by Sean Connery had to be better than whatever Arsenal were serving up at the Veb Arena. At least old Sean came back from Russia with love.
What of Arsenal? What is it about our ability to induce stress to an already traumatized Gooniverse. I mean, after Tuesday night’s heroics by Roma to hand Barcelona a new backside, did the Arsenal players even need a team talk? All they had to do was be professional, keep the Muscovites out for as long as possible, and maybe nick a goal for good measure.
But no, Arsenal just had to be Arsenal. My mind was rudely yanked from the gutter, images of Bianchi’s curvaceous figure saturating my head. What on earth our defence was doing giving Konstantin Kuchaevhad the freedom of the park on our right, I have no idea.
Both Monreal and Mustafi must have been with me in the gutter to even let Nababkin tower over the Spaniard and head the ball. Cech did his job, and you would think Mustafi would anticipate any CSKA predator. Hell, why not give Chalov a two-yard tap in.
What Was That You Said About Groundhog Day?
You knew what was coming. As if it wasn’t bad enough that we didn’t have a single shot on target in the first half, your mind was adjusting. You’re thinking, “where’s that damn sofa, I may need to hide behind it shortly”. Clearly, the Russians had the bit in between their teeth with Roma’s determination not to give up against Barca fresh in the minds of the CSKA players.
The Muscovite cat had most definitely been thrown amongst the Arsenal pigeons. The Gunners were still asleep wondering what on earth to do next when Kristijan Bistrovic’s rising first-time shot flashed past Petr Cech’s upright.
The script was written. Still can’t figure out what transpires in Arsenal dressing rooms at half-time, because we just love coming back to a mediocre and slow second half start. That young man Aleksandr Golovin again. You do remember his free-kick at the Emirates, right? Ramsey was poor, giving the ball away cheaply and two passes later Petr Cech was doing his Keystone Cops imitation with a 30-yard strike you’d expect him to comfortably deal with.
How on earth Golovin had a chance to shoot from that far out baffles me, and yet again, Nababkin must have thought Christmas came early, thanking Cech for a generous assist. You’re thinking, “I best move the sofa away from the wall an create some space to hide behind”.
Of Squeaky Bums and Hopes That Kill
I Can’t remember the last time Arsenal used 5 defenders and a defensively minded midfielder in Mo Elneny. Your screaming at the screen. “Go on and score you bastards, you’re playing away from home. Away goals count”. Our wheels tend to fall off when we park the bus, it’s just not in Arsenal’s DNA.
Another free kick from Golovin moves you closer to the sofa. It’s 25 minutes of more agony, the headlines and footballing eulogies for Wenger already being written. Surely, it was only a matter of time before CSKA complete the humiliation.
I got the sense Mo Elneny was on a mission to redeem himself from the red card he got against Southampton. Clearly, he took matters into his own hands, pulling the Gunners by the scruff of the neck. Haven’t we always wanted someone to do that?
Elneny had already been correctly denied a goal, Lacazette more offside than the Egyptian, but I liked his tenacity to do his part to redeem Arsenal. Excellent link-up play with Welbeck, a give and go from the Egyptian and Danny could smell the blood.
Sanity restored, though you did think “please, don’t have a howler like you had on Sunday from two yards out”. Elneny wasn’t done with playing his Ozil-esque role, sliding in Ramsey to break the Muscovites hearts in the dying seconds with the equalizer.
History is the story of things that happened long ago
And when it is written, it will say that Arsenal were in the semi-final of a European cup after a 9-year absence. Few will remember the lacklustre and abject performance last night, hopefully just a temporary state of insanity on the part of the Gunners. We get to know soon enough which of Marseille, Atletico or Salzburg we play. My heart tells me give us Atletico so we don’t sleep on the job, my head tells me, give us Salzburg. It’ll be nice to have a chance to get to a European final.
Mind you, do you remember those small town minnows from the middle of Sweden? The folks who beat us at the Emirates? It’s the semi-final. It doesn’t matter who we get. It matters that we don’t fall asleep on the job. 3 cup-finals to a European cup and the Champions League.
Surely we can, right? Just 3 mind-blowing games that will set us forth for the next season; that will give us bragging rights for the summer.
I know there’s folks who thumb their noses at the second rate European trophy. But hell, we can smell it. This is the Arsenal and we want trophies – well, at least it’s the Arsenal when we actually turn up.
And therein lies the big question: will we?
Have a great weekend good people.