Good morning Positives,
What a good result! A 5-1 aggregate score and two legs in which we comfortably ended the games in control is a rarity in European competitions at this stage where the ‘better’ clubs are coming face to face.
Of the game itself I thought we started a bit jittery and out of sorts, not helped by Kosc’s injury. The Frenchman immediately looked uncomfortable after going up for a corner, and not able to run so I was surprise it took 4-5 minutes to take him off.
With Laurent gone the teams traded possession for the next 30 minutes with neither side showing really testing the keeper or creating a clear goalscoring opening. Milan’s final ball was poor, as it had been to the San Siro, and our attacks ran went to the edge of the visitors’ box before running out of ideas.
The goal from Calhanoglu on 36 minutes was entirely unexpected, for me as much as Ospina. Good goal, 30 yards, corner of the net. Could the Colombian have been more alert and at least got a hand to it? Could Bellerin and/or Mustafi have shut the striker down quicker as their shouting match after the goal went in hinted at ? We shall never know.
There was a bit of a groan around me I admit but the goal was exactly what the tie needed and we responded immediately. We surged forward and within a minute it seemed Danny went down in a heap. Even from the other end it looked soft as the referee and the 5th official eyed each other up coyly. The Swedish referee nevertheless pointed spot-ward and Milan players went beserk, as I suspect any group of players would do in similar circumstances. Nessun sente da che parte preme la scarpa, se non chi se la calza. For all the fuss Danny stepped up and despatched the generous gift left and Donnarumma dived right. A collective sigh of relief was heard as far away as Hampstead Heath as we knew it was not going to be one of ‘those’ nights. Referee Eriksson compounded his guilt a few moments later by denying Milan a penalty when Callum Chambers arm was up but that would have been harsh.
The rest of the game I admit is a bit of a blur although as I did not get home until 2 this morning is a bit fuzzy anyway. The main recollection however is of Arsenal largely controlling the game. The pivot of that control last night being our Swiss midfielder, though whom it seemed most ball was channeled from back to front, and against Granit wall the RossoNeri battered to little effect as he covered ground and space, nicked the ball away and put a sly foot in as required. A really professional performance and capped by the killer second goal as far as Milan were concerned, a shocking cock up by a keeper who up until then in the tie had been excellent. Man of the match Xhaka. Enjoy your moment, you have worked hard for it. Merit points for Aaron, Jack, Mustafi, Callum and Danny.
Of the atmosphere 90% of Milan fans in the ground and singing an hour before kick off ! By Kick off + 5 I could see only a few empty seats in the upper tiers in the East and West Stands at the sides but it looked full to me. Plenty of noise throughout and lots of fans stayed after the final whistle to applaud all the players on both teams off the pitch. Arsenal fan next to me left immediately Donnarumma fumbled the second goal into his net – he’d seen enough.
At midday UK time we shall discover who the next opponents are in the Europa League and the hoopla will start again.
Enjoy Friday and the international break.