AN ARSENAL TEAM TO BE PROUD OF by Uche15
There are many ways to look at Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the next round of the Champions League. While the media are busy throwing tantrums and doing their best to spin it in the most negative way, I prefer an objective and measured analysis. Mind you, the name of the competition is Champions League. A League of Champions and for Champions. Toddlers don’t qualify for the Champions League let alone win it. It takes a lot to win the Champions League. Look at a team like Bayern Munich. Before they won it the last time, they had reached the finals at least twice, if I recall correctly. It took Chelsea several attempts to win it too, in spite of having a top team as good as any out there. This is no ordinary competition. Ask Man City with all their money and top players. They will be the first to testify.
The point that I am trying to make is that all in all, our boys did well. When the final whistle went off yesterday night, I was filled with a certain peace and satisfaction that even surprised me. That is because something in me recognized that our boys did as well as anyone can under the circumstance. For a high stakes game, our Monaco performance just might be the best game that I have seen us play all season. In fact our only Champions League game that topped this one in the past five years was our 2-1 win against Barcelona at the Emirates.
It is true that our performance at home against Monaco in the first leg was terrible. They took us by surprise and we were too slow to nullify their superior tactical plan in ninety minutes. It is also true that in the past five years, we have had similar results and performances of almost going. But I look at football differently these days. I have come to realise that you cannot fully understand the result of a football game without considering the opposition. The truth is that the opposition has improved. You have to respect your opponents. Very often football fans, pundits, managers and club owners disrespect the opposition by expecting their team to beat everyone and win everything. Really? That is exactly the reason why Manuel Pellegrini, the title winning manager of last season’s EPL will be without a job at the end of this season. And he is not alone. Carlo Anceloti, the experienced and well decorated Italian manager of Real Madrid who won the double last season with Madrid – including the Champions League – and got them playing their best football ever after Jose Mourinho nearly wrecked the club, will likely be out of a job too. Why? Because he is not going to win everything and beat everybody. Because he lost to Shalke at home, even though they ended up progressing to the next round.
Football has changed. There is more money now available to teams. Even the small and mid-table teams these days can afford to sign top players like the Wilfred Bonys and the Christian Bentekes who can really hurt any team on their day. So when you put all of this into consideration, this Arsenal team is doing well. Arsenal played brilliantly against Monaco away from home and made them look like a championship side in an FA cup game. Yes we are out of the competition but we leave with our heads held high. Monaco got their tactics spot on in the first leg and we didn’t. I can live with that. They are no pub team. Just look at their record. Their defense is second to none. If I have one wish right now, it is for Wenger do his best to keep this Arsenal team together and hopefully add two or three more top players in the summer. If we can keep this team together and keep adding to it where necessary, we will win things. We will not win everything. Those days are gone. But we will not have to wait nine years to win a trophy anymore. From here onwards, we should expect the occasional trophy from this team. They are that good and we should be proud of them.
Lagos – Nigeria