It is official folks. Arsenal can play well and actually win a match.
The Gunners arrived in Milan on the back of four straight defeats and low expectations.
Most fans and pundits expected another night of humiliation and embarrassment for Arsene Wenger’s side. Instead, there was a different narrative to this Arsenal performance.
Outside of the first two minutes when AC Milan looked dangerous, the Gunners kept the Rossoneri at bay. The defense was solid throughout and Milan rarely threatened the Arsenal goal. The shots that Milan did take were off target and barely caused keeper David Ospina any major problem.
Arsenal scored an early goal when Mesut Ozil found Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian scored his first Arsenal goal from a brilliant strike that took a deflection and gave the Milan goalkeeper no chance. The goal seemed to energize the Gunners and give Wenger’s team the confidence boost that they were in dire need of.
Things got even better for the Londoners when Aaron Ramsey doubled the lead in first half stoppage time. Ozil again played provider with a perfect pass through Milan’s defense. Ramsey rounded keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and had an easy tap in for Arsenal’s second.
Despite the excellent first half performance, Arsenal supporters were understandably nervous and waiting for the inevitable melt down. It did not materialize.
Proving that they can play smart, the Gunners worked on their ball possession and defensive side of the game.
Kudos have to go out to the defense and Ospina. Ironically, it was Milan that came in to the match having kept six straight clean sheets. At the same time, Arsenal have been leaking goals. Today the roles were reversed.
Of course this is technically half time for this two leg Round of 16 competition. Arsenal need to maintain this level of concentration when the two side meet at the Emirates in London next week.
In the meantime, Wenger’s squad have restored a bit of pride and given their fan base something to look forward to.