I don’t think I’ll add anything new to the conversation that hasn’t already been said about Arsenal’s near history-making performance against Milan on Tuesday. It surely was a bittersweet game that had hearts pounding, palms sweating and legs bouncing. How could you sit still? I couldn’t. I think I scared the crap out of my neighbors at one point. But that’s why we love this game (and especially this team).
The performance was very special. It shows what an Arsenal team that plays at a high tempo and with pace can do to nearly any team in Europe. I don’t think any team would have beaten Arsenal on Tuesday night – not Manchester City, not United, not Barcelona. Not even Real Madrid. AOC was an absolute revelation on Tuesday night playing in the central midfield role. Can you imagine a midfield with Song, Wilshere and the Ox on the field at the same time? With Rosicky and Arteta rotating in and out? And Ramsey, too, if he can ever get his shit together. Wow! It’s a very exciting time to be an Arsenal fan.
I normally go through and rate each player individually, but I think the Milan game showed a committed and inspired team effort – therefore, the team will be rated collectively. For me, the Arsenal team that played on Tuesday night feels a bit like the Phoenix rising from its own ashes to be reborn again.
If you stop and think about where we started the season, and where we are now, it’s nothing short of remarkable. I can’t tell you how many times – according to press on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as a few fickle fans – we’ve been left for dead only to reemerge and confound the “experts.” We’re in 4th place, with a real chance to capture 3rd. I get there’s still a long way to go this season and a top 4 finish isn’t guaranteed, but this group of players should be extremely proud of the way it has overcome adversity and pulled together as a team.
I think the chemistry and camaraderie and fighting spirit on this team with RvP as captain is actually much stronger than last year’s team. Cesc is a supreme talent, no question, but he wasn’t the galvanizing force that was so sorely needed. And we won’t even talk about Nasri.
So, yes, I think the Phoenix is the appropriate symbol for Arsenal this season, and the essence of that Phoenix spirit was captured and on display against Milan on Tuesday night.