Arsenal should be proud and tell naysayers to shove it

Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich, despite a valiant effort and a stunning display at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

Manager Arsene Wenger said in his post-match interview and press conference that he was proud of his team and their spirit and he should be.

Youngster Carl Jenkinson rightly said that Arsenal had been written off before the game and he was right again to challenge the relentless negativity the team receives from the media.

Sky Sport’s Geoff Shreeves took the opportunity after their impressive and defiant 2-0 victory over last year’s finalists to remind Jenkinson that Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in eight years.

Jenkinson chose to focus of the positives they can take from their performance – of which there are numerous.

A win away against a team that haven’t lost a match in any competition in over 4 months; a clean sheet kept against a team that have scored 25 goals in their last 10 games, and had 22 attempts on goal over 94 minutes.

It was a solid and unified team performance – the first time this season I’ve seen Arsenal press so high up the pitch to win the ball back, track back so often to help out their mates at the back, and keep their nerve under pressure.

They came so close from so far – everyone had written them off after their 3-1 defeat in the first leg at the Emirates and, after all that, the creation of a ‘spiral of negativity’, they were the far better team on the night. They silenced the crowd in the 3rd minute and very nearly completed Mission Impossible.

The referee didn’t help them out particularly yet they were not too ‘distraught’ to fulfill their media obligations; they held their heads high and gave their fans a performance they can be extremely proud of.

Everyone wrote them off – well, almost everyone. They were poor in the first leg but, as I mentioned before, Bayern weren’t that good either.

This Arsenal team has many deficiencies but what they lack in perhaps quality and options, they make up for in character and belief – in abundance.

The manager took a risk – he dropped the number one keeper and the captain. The back pages on Wednesday were full of tweets from Piers Morgan and other ‘fans’ who claimed ‘resting’ key players was a ‘disgrace’.

One 'fan' even cancelled his flight to Munich – well, shame on you, Sir. You missed your team’s best performance of the season.

Wenger didn’t rest key players, he dropped them. And it paid dividends on the night. They were being patronizingly warned beforehand about what an embarrassing defeat would do for the rest of their season. I hope now those naysayers are eating their words.

They lost the tie on one solitary away goal conceded carelessly in the last 5 minutes of the first leg but they won the right to proudly tell the Negative Nancy’s out there to kindly shove it. Where the Sun don’t shine.

Will Arsenal be playing Champions League football next year? You’d be a fool to write them off.

image: © Steenbergs

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