Arsenal Beware of CSKA in Moscow by Lance
Given Arsenal’s disastrous PL season, it is reasonable for every Gooner to hope for us to win the 2018 Europa Cup as a way of qualifying for the 2019 Champions League.
This expectation has been bolstered by Arsenal’s 4-1 thrashing of CSKA Moscow in the first leg of the quarterfinals at the Emirates Stadium last week with some believing that the job has been done. But I beg to differ.
Football, as we all know, is unpredictable. Tuesday’s Champions League second leg quarterfinals match between AS Roma and FC Barcelona, which the great Spanish side lost 3-0 to their less illustrious opponents, is a good example of the unpredictability of the sport. Who ever thought Roma would score three goals to tie the two-legged encounter 4-4 and edge out Barcelona?
A few other examples would suffice.
Back in March 1982, German side Kaiserslautern met Real Madrid in the quarterfinals of the then UEFA Cup. Having lost 3-1 in Madrid, the Germans won the return leg 5-0 to advance at the expense of the Spanish giants.
Again in December 1985, Borussia Mochengladbach travelled to Madrid holding a 5-1 advantage from the first leg of their third round tie in the UEFA Cup but blew it. Real Madrid won return leg 4-0 to advance.
In November 1993, another German team Karlsruhe lost 3-1 to Valencia in the first leg of their UEFA Cup and then humiliated the Spaniards 7-0 in the second leg.
Finally, in 2004, AC Milan had no problem defeating underdogs Deportivo LA Coruna 4-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinals. But the second leg was a different story as the Spanish minnows tore apart the Italian heavyweights, winning 4-0 to move to the semis.
I have deliberately chosen more examples from the UEFA Cup to show us that even in this second rate competition, we do have great comebacks. This should be a warning to Arsenal that the tie against CSKA is not yet over. Arsenal must avoid complacency and show commitment, grit, guts and sound tactics if we are to progress to the semis in spite of our three goals advantage. Moscow wont be easy.