The eyes and minds of The Arsenal faithful are focused on the second tie of the Europa league fixture against CSKA Moscow in Russia on Thursday night.
Considering the current form in the side, who’s to say we can’t dream of a fairytale ending to this ermm…let me get back to you on that adjective to describe the 2017/18 season.
The Gunners have gone on a winning streak since that abyssal performance against Brighton in February and to be brutally honest, optimism remains a scarce commodity amongst the Arsenal faithful.
It would seem as though one is simply waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop whenever The North London side are in action.
In other to have an educated opinion or prediction as to how the season will end for The Gunners, let’s take a trip down memory lane of the recent past.
Having been drafted to take on AC Milan right after the Emirates scare against Östertunds, the logical prediction would be that our Europa journey was over.
Let’s put it into perspective that this was an AC Milan team that had gone unbeaten in all competitions for 13 games, against an Arsenal side who had lost 5 games within the same period and had only Danny Welbeck as striker with the loss of Lacazette to injury and Aubameyang’s ineligibility courtesy of a now overturned rule in European football.
Anyway, without any disrespect to Danny-boy, let’s just say he had nothing on Tom from the kiddies show “Tom & Jerry” in terms of composure in front of goal.
Arsenal went to on to progress from that fixture with an aggregate score of 5-1 with Danny Welbeck scoring a rating of 9.2 on fotmob ratings courtesy of his assist and goals contribution.
On the league side, Aubameyang and his cohorts went on rampage, scoring goals and winning games like a team of Berserkers.
Now not taking anything away from that feat, but the defending in all of those games was extremely dodgy.
Most culpable character was Mustafi who for some strange reason has developed a penchant for switching on and off at random.
Wenger on the other hand has successfully hoodwinked fans with appreciation for mediocrity by fielding unripe characters such as Callum Chambers and Rob Holding in matches as the team remains short on skilled and experienced back up players in the defence.
Whenever the stars align and results go the Gunners way, we tend to overlook this overwhelming flaw which is that Le Professeur has lost his competitive edge.
I still have flashbacks of the 2002/03 premier league season preseason interview where he stated clearly his projections for the season based on his team.
Here’s an extract from that Interview (Arsene Wenger, Aug 2002):
“It wouldn’t surprise me if we went unbeaten for the whole season”
Even though it took a whole year before that prediction came through in the year of the Invincibles 2003/04, that foresight as well as the eye of the tiger attributes have all faded away gradually over the years ever since his attention was divided in various departments other than the pitch largely due to the loss of Mr Arsenal David Dein but that is a story for another time.
Back to the present, having put CSKA Moscow to the sword at the Emirates in the first leg of the Quarter final tie with an aggregate scoreline of 4-1, one would easily expect the journey to Russia should be a formality but we are talking football and more importantly Arsenal.
Looking at the game at the Emirates, it was evident that CSKA Moscow are a side capable of scoring goals as players like Leicester star Ahmed Musa was particularly wasteful infront of goal.
Hopefully that trend continues for them on Thursday as the Gunners need all the help they can get.
In other news, diminutive midfielder Henrik Mkhitaryan will not only miss the game on Thursday, but may be sidelined for a while with a possible medial knee ligament injury.
Wouldn’t be fair to mention that first leg tie against CSKA Moscow without giving due recognition to Özil’s assist and Aaron Ramsey’s finish over the goalkeeper.
The only question left to ask is do we really want to qualify for the Champions league so soon again under Wenger? I… 10-2 shy away from such optimism.