Our boys beat the Blues on Wednesday in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal. It was a scrappy affair; Arsenal went down early after some good pressure from the visitors, however, found joy through two fortuitous bounces and will advance to Wembley.
With Alexis Sanchez having left the club recently, I’m just wondering whether or not this is a sign of things to come or just a respite before yet another period of hardship for our beleaguered fan base.
Eye of or Calm After the Storm?
The Gunners were lucky in many respects; Willian went off early, signalling the end of Chelsea’s period of dominance in the match, neither goals were really skilful. Then again, however, they did make that luck to a certain extent.
Granit Xhaka‘s dead-balls were venomous, causing chaos and confusion in the visitor’s ranks during set-pieces. The team defended, well, as a team instead of a group of individuals, keeping Chelsea out for the vast majority of the game.
Mohamed Elneny slipped into and out of the backline seamlessly, allowing his team to drift between a back three and four at a whim. Nacho Monreal, for the second game running, made his case for Player of the Season.
Mesut Ozil looked back to his best, popping up and creating space and scoring opportunities at his usual lethal rate. Simply put, despite not keeping a clean sheet, Arsenal played as a unit and showed just how good they can be.
But, as the title of the article suggests, I’m caught wondering whether or not this is a new leaf or a break from more of the same.
I won’t bore you with the details; there are far more sites which have already done that. However, I will point out that since Friday night, when Alexis left the team hotel in London to leave for Manchester, Arsenal have scored six and conceded just two.
Much like the team ten years ago after Thierry Henry took his talents to the Camp Nou, Arsenal might just turn into world-beaters without their best player.
The season after Henry’s painful farewell, the Gunners came so close to winning that elusive league title. They were, in fact, ahead of Manchester United all the way until the closing weeks of the season before internal conflict razed their hopes.
Without a world-class attacker constantly calling for the ball, the team can play in a much more free fashion. Instead of always looking for the same man, the passer can use the entire team to move opponents around and find the killer ball.
Even without Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Arsenal already look more confident and comfortable without Sanchez.
Then Again, This is Arsenal
That’s the thing we just can’t forget. No matter how well the team plays one day, the next is always a doubt.
We can go from living the season from hell to beating two of the league’s best on the way to an FA Cup victory. We can go from ten points clear on top of the Premiership to four behind at season’s end.
Now fans will see just how the team can recover from losing Sanchez. Is this the aftermath of some natural disaster? Or perhaps the calm in the eye of a great tornado come to take us away to Oz.
Let’s hear your two cents.