Our European fate was sealed on Sunday, while the 3-1 over Everton seems a positive result, the ramifications could be decisive in the judgement of this season.
The headlines on Monday were Arsenal’s failure to make the Champions League, not ideal of course, harder to attract players, but as United have shown a route back into the Champions League and also a trophy worth winning, after all we haven’t had European success for a while now.
Generally it was a good performance from Arsenal, we did all we could to try and get a top four place, and with ten men for about 70 minutes a 3-1 win over a decent Everton side is a decent result. With ten men the side stayed composed and professionally saw out the job, which was impressive, although as mentioned in the previous page had we been a man down against Everton in February with them in the hunt for a Europa League spot perhaps they would’ve overturned the deficit and we may’ve seen another demoralising 10 man defeat. Ozil played quite well again and you can’t complain about the results post-North London Derby, we head into the Cup Final on Saturday on the back of some promising results having trialled the new system to a greater extent.
Conversely, we also head into the F.A Cup Final without Koscielny and Gabriel, with Mustafi having seemingly been abducted, we may revert to a back four with a partnership of Mertesacker and Holding. Koscielny’s red card was definitely a red, initially looking on from the Clock End it seemed harsh but in hindsight the ref made the correct decision. You have to seriously question Koscielny’s decision making, not a player to typically be dragged into that kind of dangerous challenge, whereas Xhaka might be. The Gabriel injury was unfortunate, he had a solid game but will ultimately miss the final, and equally concerning as our defensive worries is that Sanchez was forced off too.
Our already small chances of winning the Cup have been dramatically reduced. I’ve sung the praises of Holding, whilst also mentioning he has a mistake in him (seen again by giving away a penalty, although harshly, on Sunday). This ‘mistake’ in his game would be exploited by players like Hazard and Costa, especially without a Koscielny there to cover. It wouldn’t be some kind of ‘cup upset’ if we beat Chelsea, we are still the biggest club in London, the proudest history and the largest fan base, but we do go into the final as second favourites.
This kind of conversation (that we are underdogs) is unacceptable at Arsenal. Granted, Chelsea are the League champions, but the degree to which Arsenal have been written off shouldn’t be tolerated at this Club. Our reputation domestically, combined with our now tarnished European stature represents how backwards the club has gone, remember it was only 11 years ago Arsenal were in a Champions League final. As fans however, we do need to unite for the Final and any disagreements over management should be left aside for the weekend.
Up the Arsenal.