I am usually very sceptical about Arsenal in general. Too many times the Gunners have flattered to deceive in recent seasons. However, I have to say Arsene Wenger’s team produced an encouraging display against AC Milan on Thursday night.
The 3-1 win on the night meant that the team from north London went through to the last eight of the competition with a 5-1 aggregate win, which in all fairness did flatter the Gunners.
Looking very lively
The likes of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Henrik Mkhitaryan all looked lively for much of the game. Wilshere produced the sort of performance that reminded people of why he has been lauded as England’s midfield saviour for such a long time.
Ramsey and Mkhitaryan also looked like they were full of energy and pace. Where this has been for the last few months, nobody knows.
Striker Danny Welbeck deserves praise for a decent performance too. He scored twice, with a penalty and a tap-in, while he was lucky to win a penalty kick. However, he did a decent job considering that he is essentially the Gunners third choice striker behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
I doubt the display will be enough to keep Aubameyang out of the starting line-up for their next game against Stoke, but at least he contributed to the win.
Real contenders for the trophy
If Arsenal plays as they did in the two games against AC Milan, then they have to be considered real contenders to win the trophy. Arsene Wenger’s side are currently the second favourites to lift the trophy at odds of 7/2.
A lot will depend on the draw. If the Gunners avoid favourites Atletico Madrid, then the men from north London have a real chance of winning the competition. The other teams left in the competition are decent, but none of them will hold much fear for Arsenal, that is they keep their standards up.
The Gunners have had a habit of finishing seasons in a strong manner. A top-four finish in the Premier League looks beyond Wenger’s side now. Winning the Europa League is now the team’s priority.
To have any chance of winning the competition, the Gunners need to keep up their momentum in the Premier League, even if they are unlikely to clinch a Champions League spot through the league.
Winning the Europa League would be a good achievement for Arsenal. However, if Wenger’s side does lift the trophy, then it the triumph cannot be used to paper over the massive cracks in the Gunners set-up.
Were you encouraged by Arsenal’s performance against AC Milan?