Arsenal came from two goals down to book their place in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
SCORE: CSKA Moscow 2-2 Arsenal
SCORERS: CSKA Moscow – Fyodor Shalov 39′ Kirill Nababkin 50′; Arsenal – Danny Welbeck 75′Aaron Ramsey 90+2′
Arsenal were on course to do a Barcelona but somehow managed to pull off a Madrid, and some more, as they went behind to two goals from the Russians – who looked on course to keep the unbelievable week of upsets and magical moments in Europe going.
That was until Danny Welbeck took matters into his own hands and produced a brilliant solo effort, with some scintillating help from Mohammed Elneny, to essentially put the tie to bed as they went 3-5 up on aggregate.
Aaron Ramsey then continued his brilliant recent form to land the final blow on the hosts, who to their credit, were more than just making up the numbers.
Another comeback to try and put into words. Let’s get to it then.
#5 The side from Moscow proved to be cold and hostile in their hospitality
Arsenal were on top form in the home leg just a week ago, when Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey turned on the charm to seemingly put the tie to bed in the first leg.
What has preceded tonight in European football, this week especially, would’ve made any fan skeptical of the surety of the aforementioned assumption. And so it proved, for right until the final fifteen minutes, as Moscow first took the lead from a tap-in, after a terrific save from Cech off a header.
They then went on to send shivers down the spines of the away fans as they got another one to reach within touching distance of the miracle.
Arsenal’s midfield looked out of sorts, with Wilshere getting bullied all over the park by the tenacious Russians who put together a few very decent chances for themselves on the night.
A final surge from Arsenal was enough to avoid another gut-wrenching result in the season of disappointments for the Emirates faithful.
#4 Not sure if Danny Welbeck or Thierry Henry?
Arsenal were in for another earful from everyone associated with the club, because they managed to throw away two out a three-goal lead from the first leg, until the Englishman Danny Welbeck continued his brilliant run of form in the week, after he had similarly saved the Gunners’ blushes against a relegation-threatened Saints’ side.
Not the brace from the weekend but a goal well worthy of the entry fee alone, as Welbeck came up with a mesmerizing piece of footballing art.
First, with the best turn in Europe all campaign – with that reminiscent drop of the shoulder of a certain Frenchman for Arsenal in the glorious years gone by – Welbeck then linked up with Elneny, who himself came up with a telling through ball – perfectly weighted – for the striker to bend it into the top right corner with that dismissive finessed first-time effort which was even more reminiscent of Thierry Henry.
#3 Mohammed Elneny put in another shift which was easily the most spirited for the Arsenal side
The Egyptian has slowly been making a name for himself with the Emirates faithful, talking the talk that Arsenal fans like to hear, and on the night in Moscow, walking the walk.
A special through-ball, for the first of the night for his side, was complimented with an even more special performance in the defensive side of things for Arsenal as he regularly came up with terrific interceptions in the outfield and last-ditched clearances at the back when the side from Russia was looking menacing in the opening hour or so.
That says quite a lot about the level of consistent performances of the Egyptian – as he has slowly become one of the most reliable in the Arsenal shirt for his manager, but says even more about the state of affairs at Arsenal Football Club.
That a player who should at best be a third choice for his gaffer is currently one of the first names on the team sheet.
#2 CSKA Moscow felt the full weight of Aaron Ramsey’s towering stature
The Welshman has been one of the most paradoxical players in modern football, so full of potential and exploiting it to the limit on one night, and then utterly ineffective when you’d least expect it.
But he has shown time and again, and multiple times in the two-legged tie against the Russians alone, why he is considered among one of the very best in the art of the box-to-box midfielder.
Another really late goal to save the result on the night as well – with Arsenal getting the draw, – was typical of what he does so well for both club and country.
Ramsey has been the best performer of the tie from either side, despite Ozil’s antics at home, Welbeck heroics and Golovin’s admirable performances in both legs.
Kudos to the Welshman who is slowly, but surely, improving his credit on the streets of the footballing world.
#1 The hosts exploited Arsenal’s defensive woes like sides have for decades under Arsene Wenger
Arsenal were expected to go out and put the tie to rest in Russia but bottled up under the pressure, yet again, as the hosts look set on course to pull off the biggest upset in a week of the most unbelievable upsets in Europe.
Luckily for the longest-serving manager in English football, Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey came up with two special moments to get the desired result, despite it not coming in the desired manner.
Had it not been for those two, Wenger would’ve had to go into hiding, again, if he were to avoid the wrath of the Arsenal fans.
Shkodran Mustafi looked terribly unsure of himself all night long alongside his captain, who similarly wasn’t on top of things at the back for Arsenal, thus carrying on with the dismal record defensively.
Petr Cech pulled off two terrific saves which were then put away,off the rebound, as the men in red failed to react quicker. Another brilliant save off Golovin’s free-kick to keep it at two nil was probably the moment that turned the tide in Arsenal’s favour.
How long before Wenger fixes the gaping issues at the back for his side, is something that eludes us.