What a brilliant end to an excellent game for Arsene Wenger and our players as well as us Arsenal fans. But what a nail-biter! Let’s be honest, when we saw Jamie Vardy score that penalty just before half time we all thought that our season had ended right there, considering that Leicester had gone on to beat Liverpool and Man City in their last two matches.
Even Arsene Wenger admitted that he was extremely worried at half-time when he considered the mathematics. “Honestly,” he said. “I said we were unlucky at half-time to be 1-0 down, because I thought it was a free-kick on Ozil on the edge of the box. And I thought that was a good opportunity for us to score just before half-time. And one minute later we were 1-0 down from a penalty that for me was not obvious at all.
“So that was a big mental hurdle for the team, we were under shock at half-time. We didn’t see that coming, and we were eight points behind Leicester at half time. You could see today that Leicester are not in this position by coincidence. They are quality, they defend very well, they come out very quickly. But I think in the second half we had the right energy level and they never came nearly past half-way.
“For a while, I thought eight points would be too much. We came back to five, I thought ok, it will not be completely over.”
Arsene then described his feeling during the four minutes of added time, when we threw everything except the kitchen sink at the Foxes. It did smell [of a] goal, in the last five or six minutes.” Le Prof continued.
“Every time we had the ball, I didn’t have too much time to think, because I thought something could happen there. And they just managed always to get the ball out. And when we had the free-kick on that side, and I saw Mesut taking it, I thought we had a chance there. Because his balls are top quality, and we had tall players in the centre then, Welbeck, Chambers, Mertesacker and Giroud. So I hoped it could happen.”
This game was the proverbial six-pointer, so instead of being 8 points behind we are now just 2, and have a massive boost to our confidence. “It will strengthen our belief that we are in the fight. We had a bit of a dodgy spell, Liverpool 3-3, Stoke 0-0, lost to Chelsea, 0-0 at home with Southampton. Now after that we won two games and we are still mathematically in the fight, that will strengthen our belief of course.
“A loss today would have been massive, yes. Even after that you get all the negative vibes, the belief goes down, would have been much more difficult. We would not have given up, but eight points is three games to come back. We would need to win three, they would need to lose three.”
So does Wenger now believe that Arsenal can go on and take the title at last? “I believe that is what we want to achieve.” he replied. “But you have Man City, Tottenham and of course Leicester are in it, so at the moment it is very tight. What we want to do is to create a consistency to have a chance to do it. We are conscious we have some big games to come up. It is down to how much can we put that kind of energy into every game.”
There are still many massive games to come up before any title winner is confirmed, but this is a very big mile-stone in the race. Let’s enjoy and wait confidently for the rest of them….
Onwards and Upwards!