Although the total end result was not quite what Arsenal and the fans were hoping for, it was better than anyone probably truly expected, and the spirit in and around the club today is one of pride and excitement and hope. Which, as this three-match demolition tour (hopefully) continues next week against Newcastle, is certainly better than being IN CRISIS.
So before we all remember that we're supposed to be immersed in existential angst on a constant basis, let's talk news! It's all happening after the jump.
So remember how the referee yesterday was like really bad? Well, Arsene Wenger thought so too, and he told him so after the match. The problem, if you'll remember from last year, is that you aren't supposed to do that. So it looks like once again Wenger may be facing discipline from UEFA, and goodness knows they tend to be a rational bunch. Hopefully it won't be more than a one-match ban, like last time; well actually, hopefully it will be a no-match ban, but you know what I mean.
EDIT: UEFA have charged Wenger with "improper conduct." No word yet on whether the referee will be as well. (He won't.)
The manager had happier things to say to the media, calling the performance "faultless" and saying that "[this] is a night when players can be proud to play for this club." And he had this to say on the team's spirit:
We are on a good run in the league and we know it will be difficult [to lift the players] because it is a big disappointment, but the team have grown together. Hopefully from here we can finish out the season in a strong way...For us every point is a battle and until the end of the season that is what is in front of us.
Even though I get why the team is disappointed, I hope that in the cold light of day they will realize that they nearly did the impossible, and that is a cause for celebration rather than sadness. In the moments immediately after pain will reign, but I think by Monday they will be where they should be. So ends my bit of amateur tele-psychoanalysis for today.
One way or the other, the fans are in good spirits. Tim of 7amkickoff and Arseblog News fame was at the match (the lucky bastard) and is filled with pride in the team, as I think we all are. He also channels Martin Keown's famous "Look like you want to play for the Arsenal!" line, which in my eyes as well fit that match perfectly.
The Independent's writers were effusive in their praise of the performance. James Lawton claims that 3-0 against Milan is a signal that the Arsenal we all remember (that is, the one that one games and trophies and stuff) may be showing signs of re-awakening:
This was not necessarily a comeback unprecedented in the annals of the Champions League but a show of character, a willingness to face the heaviest odds and emerge with a much stronger belief in your own powers.
Arsenal Column is in agreement, saying that this team has something exceptional about it, both in talent and in fortitude. Jack Pitt-Brooke saw Alex-Oxlade-Chamberlain as the source of much of Arsenal's quality, and also saw shades of Wayne Rooney in him. On the one hand I am very excited about what looks to be a spectacular young player; on the other, I fear getting a bit ahead of ourselves with comparisons and praise. As with all of our young stars it's hard to balance the two sometimes, but I think today we all can revel in The OC's powers, as prodigious as they appear.
In transfer news (or "news," depending on how you feel about it), Jamie Sanderson says that Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski have been in contact via text messaging, and that Mertesacker is talking up the club. Per seems to think that Podolski is interested in a move, as he told Sky Sports:
Lukas has shown a lot of interest in recent weeks and has sent me a text message. As you can imagine, I've told him positive things...I have written to him to tell him how well he can do here and what a great club it is. I think it can happen.
This, of course, has led to claims that Arsenal are tapping up the Cologne forward, and I admit that it's just on the border of what I think is acceptable. If Podolski opened the channel, then that's one thing, but if next week we start hearing Aaron Ramsey talking about how Poldi has 'Arsenal DNA' I may see it a bit differently. Wenger joked about it:
I cannot stop Mr. Mertesacker sending SMSs. He is free to send SMSs to Mr. Podolski.
And finally, friend of the blog Fredorrarci has written an ode to Niklas Bendtner, he of the boundless confidence and mediocre output, at The Classical (or, "The Good Grantland"). Since technically Bendtner is still an Arsenal player, it's relevant, and it's really good (just like practically everything else at The Classical).
Apropos of nothing: Paolo Bandini, on one of my favorite American players, Michael Bradley. This is noteworthy if for no reason other than the fact that it contains this line from another journalist, describing Bradley's style of play:
What a player! He both destroys play and constructs it.
That is something I would want on my gravestone.