ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Arsenal
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Posted by Sam Limbert on 03/07/2012

Ultimately, having pride doesn't bring you trophies. The fact of the matter is that despite playing superbly against AC Milan at home, we're still out of the Champions League. Whenever a game has gone badly, I'm keen to look at the bigger picture. It should also be considered when we've played well.

The bigger picture is that it is now definite that we won't win a trophy this year, and that we're still struggling for consistency at the highest level. We have so many regrets from the tie with AC Milan, mainly for the non-performance of the majority of the team in the San Siro. However as an individual match, the home leg at the Emirates showed the fans and the team, that Arsenal do belong at Europe's top table. Not many teams will beat AC Milan 3-0 this season.

Now isn't the time in the season for negativity. The fans know, the players know and the whole club knows that the performances in Milan and Sunderland in the cup were abysmal. On a long term basis, those poor performances in key cup games need to be addressed. In the short term, performances have definitely been addressed and sorted out. If after those games, someone said to me that we'll beat Tottenham, Liverpool and Milan, score 10 goals and concede three, I'd have dismissed them as crazy.

I expected nothing from the match at the Emirates, but this team are playing with a sudden new found confidence. In a way, it didn’t feel like we went out, because it felt like that happened three weeks ago. It was just a thoroughly enjoyable and committed performance from everyone in red and white, and we came close to pulling off a genuine miracle. Against a team that we previously struggled to muster some half chances against, we absolute over-ran them and bossed them all over the pitch. Even though we went out, the players and the fans showed real pride in the red and white shirt and that hasn’t been the case for some of this season. The match might not have salvaged our Champions League season from a position of nothing, but it has helped the increasingly rapid healing of the relationship between the team and the fans.

It would have been easy for the team to just accept they weren’t going to make it through, but they didn’t. There does seem to be belief in this squad that hasn’t been evident in the last few seasons. Obviously we need to cut out the set-backs, but we’re undoubtedly better at recovering from them. We couldn’t fully recover from being 4-0 down, but the team understandably ran out of energy. Some of them almost had to be dragged off the pitch after the game. Whatever the result, when you see players like that after a match, you can’t help but be full of admiration and know that they’ve given absolutely everything for Arsenal Football Club. You can’t ask for more than that. Including the international friendlies, a number of those players have played four games in a week and a half. It would have been almost impossible to keep playing at the same intensity for the whole match.

The first half was probably the best half we’ll see from Arsenal this season. The whole team pressured Milan, forced mistakes, and cut through a defence that is renowned for being stubborn. There were so many individuals that performed brilliantly, but that contributed to the whole ethic and game plan of the team. Arsene Wenger got the tactics right, and although his team selection was limited due to injuries, playing Oxlade-Chamberlain as a deeper lying central midfielder was brilliant.

On seeing the Ox in the starting line-up, I expected him to play behind Robin van Persie, with Tomas Rosicky dropping back. However with the form Rosicky has been in for the last few games, he deserved to stay in the influential advanced role. He has typified the recovery of this team, and the responsibility being taken by some players that have lived in the shadow of others in recent years. He ran the midfield, harried the opposition, was always looking to move forward at pace, and scored a deserved goal with an excellent finish. He is definitely a player that deserves a contract renewal.

Ordinarily, playing an 18 year old winger as a central midfield against a quality team like AC Milan, would be risky. However Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t an ordinary 18 year old winger. He combined well with those around him, and added lightning pace from the middle of the pitch. Had we been patient in our build up, Milan would have got players back and would have been difficult to break down. Instead, the presence of Oxlade-Chamberlain allowed us to stretch the Italians. His direct running for the penalty was excellent, and showed his confidence. He saw the gap, he went for it, knowing he had the pace meaning that he’d have to be fouled to be stopped. Eventually, he ran out of steam, but he covered so much of the pitch for an 18 year old who had flu the day before.

Robin van Persie’s penalty, following the gamesmanship of Mark van Bommel, was brilliantly dispatched. There will be regrets about his second half miss, but the goalkeeper deserves credit for being in front of our captain. It’s quite difficult to criticise van Persie after the season he’s had.

If any of our wild dreams about winning 5-0 were going to come to fruition, we weren’t just reliant on attacking well, we needed to keep a clean sheet against a team that easily put four past us three weeks ago. We did that, mainly because Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen were awesome. Koscielny showed set-backs don’t affect him anymore. An own goal on Saturday, was followed by a goal at the right end after five minutes of the next match. Defensively, he bossed things. Robinho and Ibrahimovic got nothing out of him. Vermaelen looked sharp again, and as always, played with his heart. With our attacking approach, Milan could have been dangerous on the break, but the pace and determination of Koscielny and Vermaelen stopped that from happening.

Milan improved in the second half, and we were reliant on the starting XI doing the majority of the work as injuries meant our bench wasn’t filled with good options. Had we made it to extra time, we’d probably have gone out given how knackered our players were.

The brutal reality is that pride and unity doesn’t win you trophies, but it undoubtedly helps and makes fans enjoy supporting their team. We’ve been drastically short of at times this season. It’s fluxed from one its lowest points in recent seasons, to one of its highest within a couple of weeks. The atmosphere at the Emirates on Tuesday was positive, loud and proud. We’re out of Europe, but we’re feeling good as fans again and believe that we can get back into the Champions League next season. Cynics who think it would be a good thing to miss out on the tournament next season should have been inside the ground against Milan. We took on an excellent side and tore them apart, and the atmosphere was epic.

I’m not usually a big fan of football on a Monday night, but given the state of some of our players at the end of the game on Tuesday, the extra time will be needed to prepare for the Newcastle match.

Hopefully the team won’t feel too disappointed from the aggregate defeat, but take heart from the result on the night. We’ve shown that the team can be competitive in the Champions League, they just need to ensure that they’re there next season.

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Posted by david fitch on 03/07/2012

Well written what we saw was potential now they have to show consisteny this team can beat anyone the big question is why they do not do it week in week out until they do they will not win any thing. For me the bigger worry was the bench we have no game changing player's once you get past first team player's there is not much else to bring on.Arsenal played good against Spurs poor against Liverpool great against Milan what will they play against Newcastle?

Posted by arsenal intertain on 03/08/2012

The most financially healthy team showed what they could do against a team with big spending pains.
Everybody has trashed AV this year. WAKE UP! He knows what he is doing and the ignorant comments about getting rid of him should be forever hushed.
We were all entertained to the max with the Arsenal-Milan, Chelsea and Tottenham competitions and some people still talk about trophies. Get over it. Arsenal will win the league and the CL when their time comes. THANK YOU ARSENAL AND AW!!!!!!!!!

Posted by GoonerBear on 03/08/2012

I whole heartedly agree with your post - per usual.

However, I cannot express how proud I am of the team. Sp*rs, Liverpool, and now Milan are three matches I am not ready to forget. The roller-coster continue!

The team made me proud to be a gooner! Arsenal may have lost on aggregate, the team still won me over! They can beat anyone, on any given day!

Considering the injuries, I am curious to see how AW is going to use the Ox. His role in CM was incredible. The kid deserves a start in every game. I wonder how the formation could be adapted to accommodate the best players. Does Arteta still have his spot guaranteed? What about Gervinho and Walcott - who were probably the weakest links?

I am excited for the future! This kid is something special!

Posted by Clyde on 03/08/2012

if ever we were going to bow out...that is the way to do it...chest pumping!!!very proud of the boys.we showed a tremendous amount of passion.going for that third spot now...

Posted by colombiangooner on 03/08/2012

"...our bench wasn’t filled with good options..." that was the key two subtitutions, we lost two simple as that...chamach and young do nothing...Proud, proud, proud of being arsenal fan (and a little bit of frustration, of course)...Welcome Podolsky...

Posted by GrahamMcG on 03/08/2012

Excellent analysis as usual - I so much look forward to your posts.
I watched most of the match on my work computer (lunchtime in Vancouver!) You're right - they gave everything, and made me proud to be a lifelong Gooner.
Question: Do you think Milan should be censored for (deliberately) allowing their pitch to be in such a state 2 weeks ago? It was an obvious ploy to slow down our wingmen; and I don't think it was a coincidence that Wallcott was pounded off the pitch yesterday. They knew they were vulnerable to our wingers - so I guess they are more tactically astute (or sleazy) as a club?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think that Milan should be punished in some respect, but ultimately both teams have to play on the same surface. The pitch definitely hindered us though.

Posted by Skydog on 03/08/2012

Looking forward, I think Wenger should give Park and Chamakh more playing time for the remaining games. At games when the team is leading 2:0 or 3:0, Park and Chamakh should be given chance to play. Chamakh has been low in confidence due to lack of playing time and the trust of the manager. Slowly allow the 2 strikers to gain confidence and Arsenal will have more attacking option. Do not wait until Van Persie is injured and then start to work out with Chamakh and Park. That will be too late. I have a feeling that Wenger do not trust Asian players. Park wasn't given a chance to perform. Chamakh should try to train himself up to handle the physical challenge by defenders. Find that he is a bit soft. I didn't watch the games but I am happy to see Arsenal scored 3 goals. However I don't know why Arsenal players are so injury prone and they take a long time to recover.

Posted by Zake on 03/08/2012

I am so proud of all the Arsenal players, but once again appaled by the refereing. We never have any ref. luck in Champions League, not even on home games.

Something is not right.

Posted by Anup on 03/08/2012

Sam you are truly a Gooner from the heart! I read each of your blogs as religiously as I follow Gunners playing.Keep up the good work mate!

Posted by Anonymous on 03/08/2012

Good write up Mr.Sam, i always enjoy your write ups. I think Arsenal is just showing us the stuff they are made off. Its nice and very ebjoyable to see the team finally beginning to bring smiles to he face of their Teaming fans...long may it continue.

Posted by Snipes on 03/08/2012

Great write up again Sam.

I am proud of the guys, they out played and dominated the game. every1 played well esp. Rosicky. Been waitin to read your write up Sam and like a true gooner it did not disappoint. Thanks again and waitin for the next piece. Arsenal for life...

Posted by Invicibles04 on 03/08/2012


Great Blog, Sam

Posted by mustafa on 03/08/2012

Judging from the performance against Milan, we have got what it takes to be in the competition next season, with an automatic berth ahead of Chelsea (Spurs will finish praying for that). Surely Rosicky needs a new contract......he's been extraordinary in the last few games.......!

Posted by MAYOWA B O on 03/08/2012


Posted by Amit on 03/08/2012

what this match amply showed was we need a strong bench, AW will have to spend money to get some decent players, players who are physically developed and can stand the rigour of playing for a big club and not just young starlets. Plus clear out dead wood in terms of certain players being sold. Further its surprising we are the only top team which suffers from host of injuries season after season, hopefully we dont suffer the same fate going forward.

Posted by Billy on 03/08/2012

Very well written again, Sam. Not too sentimental and kept a well-balanced perspective. One thing I would like to point out about the match is that if we had a stronger bench, then we could have pushed on in the 2nd half to finish the business. Take for example, if we could have brought on Arshavin for the last 30 mins, he's the one capable of changing the game. And this is the problem with us over the last few seasons. We just don't have a large enough squad. We always had to punch above our weight but the ultimate prize was a step too far.

Posted by stevan R on 03/08/2012

''Now isn't the time in the season for negativity...'' i like how you put it sam,its been a long hard season for evry arsenal fan out hasnt been good but there is the up side of it like the atmosphere on tuesday night againts milan,we know its imposible but we belive.eventhough i wasnt there but as a true arsenal fan,not only me,evry single one who watched that game can feel it that we are still one of the best squad there is eventhough our trophy cabinet have been empty for the last 7 season.its been a while since we got that kind of atmostphere this season.i just hope we can keep this momentum going and keep it going to the next season,with some new quality signings that we all wanted and needed so bad its not posible we can conquer UCL next season.
just keep on believin......
gunner for life.....

Posted by DaveC on 03/08/2012

Great performance ! However, this is also an indication that we are short as a squad, we don't have enough players on the bench to give that extra drive to get the job done when needed, instead we only have Park and Chamakh to bring on.

Wenger really need to strengthen our squad with at least 3 major signings in the summer to allow us with any chance of winning trophies. Also, we need to make sure we can keep hold of RVP as well.

Great performance on the night for Rosicky against Milan and I think we might be even better if we could play the OX more more in the forward role instead of Song. This would strengthen our attach more and allow Song to do his better role of defending.

Posted by Yusuf Sam on 03/08/2012

Excellent article as usual and spot on Sam! The team was great and almost did the impossible. We can not fault their commitment and didication to Arsenal FC. Having said that, Walcott and Gervinho were below average. Gervinho could not go pass the Milan right back. Walcott on the other hand will make a good run with the ball, but his end product is very poor. He should take que from Oxlade. The way he ran into that Milan box is what Walcott should be doing. He was very promising six years ago when he came to Arsenal, but he is yet to deliver.
We had no match winners on the bench. I didn't expect Chamakh and Park to change anything.
I am looking forward to our match with NUFC on monday and hope Spurs slip at Goodison park. We can still finish 3rd.
Wenger should have finish penciling down the players he will add to compete for the title next season.

I am still expecting your follow back on twitter so we can exchange ideas on Arsenal. @Yusuf_Official

Posted by Cliff Holdorff on 03/08/2012

Hi Sam

Best possible result considering the confidence boost and our current injury problems. 21 Free kicks is ridiculous though.

Posted by Titansgunner12thman on 03/08/2012

I can't say I agree with the whole article. I saw a tremendous amount of gaps at the back, and if Milan weren't on cruise control or even had a game plan other than to soak up pressure, our defense would have been breeched. I do like the spirit we played with, but otherwise the Arsenal players had no pressure on them to perform. Yes, the did play well and try to get back into the tie, but a loss is a loss. I just don't think Milan came in focused, and the result at the Emirates showed so.
Without our starters we are toothless.
I'd like to see quite a few changes on this team. Even Arsene Wenger still has to convince me his days aren't up. I don't know what to expect from this team. I hope for the best, but the Arsenal are surely a team in transition. Please don't lose sight of that fact.

Posted by InfantryRed on 03/08/2012

Laud the article, Sam. As genuine as always. On to business...Since Thierry's return to the Emirates, I noticed the clubs confidence bolster. Crosses were being fed with more intent to cut a defense than just advance the ball up the pitch. Thomas, Ox and Theo have been the clear benefactors, in my eyes. All three have upped their level of play and you should be well aware of my love affair with Ox. It seems he is more versatile than I believed at first. I also agree with your statement about the first half against the Rossoneri...we were scary good with the amount of depth we lacked. I couldn't help but blame that lack of depth for halting the improbable comeback...I also couldn't help but applaud the performance regardless. I am proud of what Arsene has mustered out of this club through this season...I have said this often but it seems more true now, our future looks bright. Lukas is on his way to London, maybe Eden Hazard could follow? What do you think, Sam?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree with you that we've looked more confident going forward since Thierry was here. His loan spell had a good impact on and off the pitch. Podolski definitely seems to be coming to the club, which will be excellent, however I'm not sure about Hazard. I think we'd need others to leave in his position before we signed him.

Posted by colombiangooner on 03/08/2012

Hey...the Arsenal don't played great against liverpool because of this big game against milan...that was AW get some fresh legs and do what they eventualy much important games in 15 days...WELL DONE ARSENE!!!

Posted by titansgunners12thman on 03/08/2012

Arsenal Intertain,
I understand the need for encouraging the team, but to celebrate a victory in what amounted to a exhibition is ludicrious. Wenger is still presiding over a team that can't get out of its own way, and is no where near any title. Yes, I was glad to see the team go for it, but let's face it, it was to late.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Arsenal, but I'm not blind to the fact that this team has looked lost over extended periods this season. Wenger has to get much of the blame for this teams maliase (sp?). As much as I was attracted to this team because of what Wenger has done, I also know he has not been getting it done. I wouldn't be mad to see Wenger leave.
Finally, every manager has his time and even if he wins everything every year, your time is finite in this job. He will leave eventually. So this delirum about Wenger not moving on is moot. I say change now while we are at a nadir, and start fresh.

Posted by kelvin Nigeria on 03/08/2012

Nice one sam,I believe the confidence is back in both players and fans,and Arsene wenger has shown he is a tactician of repute. Pls Sam,hw true is poldoski signing? Love from all #Arsenal fans.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. There were reports on Thursday that the Podolski deal was virtually done, so hopefully he'll join for next season.

Posted by Jack Conway on 03/08/2012

I was very proud of the Gunners on Tuesday. Great effort with so many players showing so much heart. Ox must be in the side for every game so that he can gain experience. Rosicky has been a revelation. RVP should be one of the three nominees (with Messi and Ronaldo) for world player of the year. You can't understate the stability Sagna has brought to the back line. Gibbs looks out of his element but that may be due to lack of playing time. Okay, now we have a single focus and with the team playing with confidence I'm looking for a third place finish. Doubters aside, Wenger has done an amazing job with what he has. This summer he needs some signings and we're right back in it. Go Gunners!!!!

Posted by GL on 03/08/2012

I guess this proves what we knew all along - that Rosicky is not, and never has been, a wing player. He's a CAM. This also proves that speed kills - OX and Walcott together worked out pretty well.
Perhaps Wenger is finally finding the balance he needs for the team? We need speed, skill, toughness and smarts all in equal amounts, not just a ton of one thing and less of something else. Spain is a great example - Xavi and Iniesta are much tougher than they look, Silva and Villa bring the speed, and Puyol and Pique hold the line, either by skill or by force if they have to.

Hopefully Arsene has also seen that certain types of players complement each other. Walcott needs through balls. Song and Sagna get them to him. Rosicky needs options around him. Thus, he playes better centrally. Koscielny defends high,so he needs someone to stay and hold the line. Gervino prefers to pass more than shoot. So give him a target to pass to. And so on.

Posted by elmir delic on 03/08/2012

Great performance by the team and I was thoroughly impressed. I will say that Wenger has a point with the quality of the pitch effecting Arsenal. Two poor pitches (Sunderland, Milan)resulted in two losses while three quality pitches (spurs, pool, milan) resulted in 10 goals and three victories. These games have also highlighted the obvious need for depth (or a better medical team) and to keep ramsey out of the starting lineup. I understand he has given his all when he is out there but he does not have the attacking mindset to play in a three man midfield. Otherwise a great showing by the team. The entire back line played great (let's not forget how well gibbs and sagna played) and all of our wingers were looking dangerous throughout the game.

Posted by chuckles on 03/08/2012

Hi Sam, great article. I would be one of those cynics this season, we have a few games to be very proud of our team, but the bad days far outweigh the good ones. I want to be positive but can't help thinking AW or the club will look at these few games and feel we are ok with the current squad and not go out and get the few players we need to be top notch again. What do you think?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. We definitely need additions in the summer, but for the moment that can't be our main concern. It seems Podolski is coming, which is a step in the right direction, so hopefully the epic failure in some of the games this season will prompt the additions we need.

Posted by I.Nace on 03/08/2012

Agree, great game! Fills me with hope and pleasure. We should have gone through, but paid for the grave mistakes of the first match. I still don't know what happened in the 1st game and I can't comprehend. What ever the reasons no excuse, unforgiveable. That is gone with another year. Like I said the other day, we do have the foundations to be a top, top team, just more consistency.

Posted by Canberra Gooner on 03/08/2012

Another strong performance from the team which continues the strengthening of spirit first glimpsed against Spurs (post San Siro and FA Cup exit).

We can't achieve consistency because of the lack of depth in the squad. We are too dependent on the starting X1. In some positions we have viable alternatives but when a run of injuries strike we look thin.

I believe we still need to consider restructuring our wages, showing under-performing youth players the door and signing established players in their place.

In 2012/13 it is time to turn potential into trophies

Posted by Ethan on 03/09/2012

Hi Sam, I share the exact, same sentiments as you do.Out but proud, the players had earned back their pride.And yes,in the long run,we still have a few issues which were evident from this game.There are definitely ways to solve them and it is totally up to the top management whether they want to do so. So far,I am not totally convinced.
My pick for MoM is oxy.His assist to the 1st goal and run leading to penalty.If he has developed the strength and stamina in future,he could turn games.
If reports on podolski are true,I will be extremely excited, looking forward to next season.Likewise for fans and players.At least those planned on changing teams would stay put.
More coverage for defense and offense is required.In the same period next seasons,we will have same problems.And we should target UCL trophy,not just BPL.This will put this group of guys in a different league from those heros in the past.

Posted by Abhishek on 03/09/2012

Fourth place finish is in our hands to be honest.A quick glance at the fixture table tells us that we are better placed than Chlski.
We dont play any BIG club away from home whereas Chlski needs to travel to Anfield, Ethiad and Emirates. Also they will be entertaining Spurs by end of March.
However, third place finish will be tough since Spurs have the best fixture out of all the London clubs.
Considering Santos and (probably Wilshare) coming back before the end of season will surely boost our options.
I did a worst case scenario prediction for us and Chlski and feel we can afford to loose one and draw 4 and still get thourgh (Not that I want that stage to come though!!)
What is your take Sam?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Fourth is definitely there for our taking. Our fixture list is ok, we have the momentum and hopefully some players returning. Newcastle will be vital as we'll know what the other clubs will have done over the weekend, so could have the chance to put ourselves in a strong position.

Posted by singa on 03/09/2012

Hope this is not a one off performance, but then, who can blame us for immersing ourself with the victories. True top teams perform consistently week in week out, with real characters and believe, even chips are down. Can the current yo-yo Arsenal team maintain the standard and capture third placing? Anyway, that is really a compromised requirment Arsenal. Show yr true CHARACTER!!! ARSENAL,GO FOR IT!!!!!

Posted by Joey on 03/09/2012

never in my sojourn in goonerland have been so proud of the Arsenal gladiators...we might be out, but with hands held high and heads in the cloud, i can look upon brighter days ahead for Arsenal Football Club...we believe, and forever will keep the faith.

Posted by SIMBA on 03/09/2012

It was just wonderful to watch that match - it was an epic duel and Arsesal proved to all and sundry that we are a CL team. We must now qualify for the next season CL. wE are proud of the team and please let us all support AW!

Posted by Sever on 03/09/2012

A brilliant performance it may have been, and I agree with your points overall Sam, but let us not get too carried away here. We all know that Arsenal can be brilliant on their day, but CONSISTENCY is key to any championship winning team and Arsenal have not had that for years. Furthermore, this isn't the first time Milan have wasted a massive lead. Remember the debacles against Deportivo La Coruna and Liverpool?

One key reason why we have underperformed overall this season is our mediocre, if not dreadful, away form. We can be scintillaing at the Emirates, but on our travels were are prone to collapse (Milan, Man Utd, etc). Even in our recent run, we bossed Milan and Spurs but got battered for long periods by Liverpool at Anfield.

Posted by jogu on 03/09/2012

Great analysis, Sam! And great performance by the team - 3 wins against tough opponents. Yeah, that's what we are made of! Keep going, my Gunners!

Posted by Danny mutiso on 03/09/2012

I think arsenal played well but am concerned about theo and gervunho they seem to loose more balls than they create chances i think AW should address this or way the option of using ox on the left instead of gervinho and theo on the right (i.e if he improves).Great job Rosicky & RVP

Posted by hillary from radio house,abuja. on 03/09/2012

Sam, I admire your non sentimental comments. Then for our game,it was a game that I will end not to remember any time soon; we fought very hard for ourselves and that earned us some pride and then silenced so many critics on the kind of Squad that Arsenal parade. Really, our games in recent seasons and this one not excluded witnessed untimely ups and down, but my happiness remains that we recover so fast any time we fell through more than some of our challengers;this is not in any way to say that I enjoy our games when we flop, instead, I feel that they are enough to teach us a lesson to find our way into being consistent in our good performances. We are out indeed but the game against Milan left some pride in me as a gunner.Wenger should appeal to them to maintain this tempo for we are at a very critical stand in the league table.As he does it, he should equally get some good players for us to enable us have options as we know that we usually have a lot of games to play every season

Posted by Titansgunners12thman on 03/09/2012

By the way, Sam, "Out but Proud" is sort of an oxymoron. We are out, there's nothing to be proud of.
That would be a great slogan if we were talking about gay pride, not losing a knockout phase tie.

Posted by Arsenal4eva on 03/09/2012

Obviously as Arsenal fans many do not peruse the clubs website. I recall an article wherein AW bemoaned the limitation of his squad at 25 players. Anyway, none of us foresaw both Cesc and Nasri leaving this season. It was assumed that if one stayed then the midfield general required for the style of football Arsenal plays would be in place. However, both left! In desperation Arteta was brought in but it appears that he has adopted a more defensive role and thus the midfield generals role remains unclaimed. Recently, the rejuvinated Rosicky has shown signs of his past brilliance and demonstrated some very good attacking intent. Since the removal of Ramsey from that role the team has been more solid - sad but true. Podolski will be a good addition but a midfield general is still required to push on to greater heights. Eden Hazard would be a tremendous coup. Sam, keep up the good work and stay positive - naysayers always exist and will share in the spoils when the trophy is delivered.

Posted by Gerard on 03/09/2012

This was, I hope, a lesson to the fans. At the start of the season, when we were being hammered left and right, people called for 'deadweight' to be thrown overboard. Rosicky was frequently mentioned, so let's give the lad some credit for beating both the odds and the fans. He is currently playing better than Cesc was last season.
With all that Podolski rumours going around we are just short of an extra CB (and get rid of Squillaci) to have a chance to being title contenders again. Can you imagine if we hadn't lost Wilshere the whole season?

Posted by Collins on 03/09/2012

Great article sam. U know, 4rom d kick off of d game i became very optimistic of an arsenal comeback following d attitude of d players to sink milan but dat didn't happen cos d playerz phazed out due to fatigue nd there was no credible replacement. Wenger should know dat these kind of games re sometimes won 4rm d bench so he should do wel 2 enrich d sqaud wit qaulity nd nt qauntity of young maturing talents. Tanks nd up gunnerz.

Posted by Tan Wei Yang on 03/09/2012

i am glad that arsenal almost make a remarkable comeback. it saddened me when arsenal had failed to score in second half. I hope that arsenal will able to win trophy next year. No matter, ARSENAL WILL BE THE WINNER IN MY HEART

Posted by Fritz Alfred(2legitnottowinit) on 03/09/2012

Sam, as always this year you have been spot on about our team. I have to ask why Wenger did not start Ox in the first leg when eveyone, including myself knew that our strength was in the wide areas with pace, which Milan clearly lack. Looking at he previous match with Milan I have to say that when Seedorf went out injured, and they came in with the speedy Dutch player (Emanuelsson I think I bu8tchered his name). I thought we were compelled to match his pace in the middle of the pitch as he was creating space for Robinho and Ibra. Your thoughts?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think the pitch in Milan played a part in not starting the OX in the away leg. Theo played but wasn't effective as Milan sat deep and the overall pace of the game that the team played wasn't quick enough. We should have had enough pace in the middle of the pitch, they just didn't use and didn't close the opposition down like they did at the Emirates.

Posted by mike spy on 03/09/2012

wonder if Messi would like to join Arsenal in the summer

Posted by Von Saab on 03/09/2012

Hi Sam. Marvellous article. Pro-Gunner yet balanced. Seems like everyone tries to be a manager. I'll refrain from being one. Being a gooner is a difficult one when you have to defend AFC against the likes of, expecially, Man U fans. That, though, have never swayed be to change my colours from red and white. Much have been said about us the past few seasons since we won any trophy. Many has asked for AW's head especially this season. I simply cannot understand why. Who else can get AFC Top 4 for last 10 yrs or so & taste Champions' League football? Understandably, everyone wants trophies. I am pretty contended with what we've been having. I don't ask for anything more except more of Tuesday's passion and commitment. If it is possible, may be, splash a little to really strengthen the team. However, I do know that buying any player is no guarantee of his performance. Chamakh is an example. Whatever the case may be, this is one Gooner (from Singapore) who is forever proud to be one.

Posted by Raza on 03/10/2012

Excellent blog again Sam. Heartening performance by our heroes. I agree we just have to worry about being there next time; and with SPurs wobbling and the spirit the team is showing, we can surely finish 3rd. And if we can retain RVP, then we can fight again at the top level next season, with Wenger hopefully bringing in a couple of players, and the team having improved so drastically this season in so many problematic areas like CB, GK and Dm. I for one cannot wait to see a front 3 of Podolski, RVP and Ox :D.

Posted by Kunle on 03/10/2012

The fact that other top managers are looking to pounce on another of wenger's discovered gem year after year is an envidence that Arsene is still the best in the business. These guys should go & scout their own players & turn them into world class like wenger is doing. they should allow the prof to enjoy the fruit of his labour.i am not going to join the band wagon to skin wenger simply because he has refused to buy trophies in the last seven years like others are doing (mourinho, mancini & now Daglish) its just not worth it. You feel more fufilled when u deservedly win a trophy & not pay through your nose to buy one.

Posted by lalok_stylo on 03/10/2012

earlier this season, i questioned AW's decision to pay 12mil(maybe can increase to 15mil according to clauses) for Ox....
but, he impresses me and everybody i believe....
he makes me start to think he can be like ronaldo...
he's a great capture by AW and the future of arsenal....

Posted by Joe Mona on 03/10/2012

Oh my God what a wonderful display from Rosicky, Song & promising OX Chamberlain. Gunners till the end of time

Posted by olusegun daniel on 03/11/2012

it was a spectacular match 2 watch on dat day,kudos 2 all teeming arsenal fan 4 the great support on that day,i think [rosicky]should be given a new contract.UP GOONERS FOR LIFE

Posted by Steve on 03/11/2012

It's high time that AW needs to make good signings for the coming season. Players like Rosisky need to be given a new deal and a good one. Loosing VP will be a setback for the gunners but i think he will be giving room for new talents to be grown. A GOONER 4EVA

Posted by javid francis on 03/12/2012

sam quick question i read an article today about song leaving in the summer is this true and a ligue 1 rennes french international midfielder is lined up to take hi place...surely wenger couldn let song get away because apart from rvp to me hes our moxt valuable player

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Haven't heard that rumour myself, and I doubt it's true. I don't think Arsene Wenger would let Song go given the amount of time he's put into Song in terms of developing him. We've got Coquelin and Frimpong coming through, but I doubt Wenger would let Song go.

Posted by gunner138098 on 03/12/2012

Sam ,in reply to one of the comments,you wrote that we can't sign Hazard cos we have others piaying in that position!what about Podolski?he likes to play wide left--we have Gerv,Ox,Ryu,Theo!

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. We could sign Hazard, although with Podolski, we now have a lot of players coming through in those positions. I could see the Ox being pushed more into the middle, like Jack Wilshere was. Jack started on the right, but now he's a central midfielder. I just doubt we'll pay enough for Hazard because I think Lille will ask for a big fee.

Posted by Anonymous on 03/12/2012

wake up ars.e.nals wallow in self pity nice football but trophyless til 2025!

Posted by praxis on 03/13/2012

Just a thought that will never happen. Wenger should off load Chamak and park and buy Fernando Torres on the cheap. Arsenal could really use the depth if they want to go far in any competition. Van Percy, Poldolski, and Torres would defintly be an upgrade that could see arsenal through injury and a congested schedule. I know he has been rubish at Chelsea but he could be an interesting pick up.

Posted by Debashis kundu on 03/13/2012

Congrats to Arsenal for fighting, though I am a Milan fan. Arsenal fans must be excited with their recent form as much as AW. Again he will stick with his principles and convince supporters that his policy is right. And eventually it is the beginning of 8th season without a trophy. Again a frustrating year is waiting for you(2012-13 season). For the time being enjoy this form..........Sympathy on you because how does a big club like Arsenal is personalized and becomes infertile.

Posted by I.Nace on 03/13/2012

That's what I'm talking about! I haven't seen such an energetic performance for quite some time! To show that level of commitment in the 95th minute, is what makes a superior team. Great team effort. Szchezny growing; Sagna magnificient, Koscielny and Vermaelen both excellent, Gibbs appart from Newcastle's goal where he was at fault(he tends to drift in the middle) he did very good after; Song the strong, Arteta fine, AOC new star, Rosicky "The Mozart", as they call him(the best since the great times wiyh Ceasc and Hleb); Walcott great and RVP sensational.Keep it going!

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David Young Sam Limbert: My retirement as a football player came at the age of 14 due to being rubbish, it's fair to say I was more Kaba Diawara than Thierry Henry, so I turned my focus to writing about the game. I'm a lifelong Arsenal fan and have been lucky enough to watch the team across England and Europe. My favourite Gunner of all time is Dennis Bergkamp, and the 2004 Invincibles is the greatest side I've ever seen in English football. I try to be positive about the Arsenal as it's the hope that keeps us going! Follow me on twitter @SamsMatchReport.

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