the three letters tar inside a cannon
article banner
JokAFC avatar


CSKA Moscow 2-2 Arsenal - Semi Final Booked - But only just...

The Gunners sneaked past CSKA Moscow in Russia, after the home side nearly got the three goals they needed to progress to the semi-finals. Instead, thanks to Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey’s goals and Elneny’s tireless workrate, we will be in the bag for tomorrow’s Europa League Semi-final draw.Arsenal went with the strongest lineup we could muster for this trip. Perhaps Arsene Wenger had a feeling that this tie wasn’t quite finished as a contest…Alexandre Lacazette took the striker mantle, with Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey in a three behind the Frenchman. Mohamed Elneny took the place of the flu-ridden Granit Xhaka, and Jack Wilshere was given the other midfield slot. Our defence was our first choice backline. Hector Bellerin on the right, Nacho Monreal on the left with Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi in the centre, with Petr Cech in between the sticks.With that lineup and with the ease in which we cantered to our first leg 4-1 win, we could be forgiven for thinking that the quick away goal would come easily, and our passage to the semi-final would be guaranteed before half-time.We should know better as Gooners. When do we ever do things the easy way?The first half hour was pretty pedestrian, especially in comparison to the first leg. we were keeping the home side at arms length, pretty content to sit tight. We lacked the zip we are capable of, with our three goal cushion probably robbing us of any conviction in attack.This would cost us dearly.Six minutes before half-time and CSKA got their boost the team needed. Golovin was the main orchestrator, a long range shot pulling Cech into action. The becapped keeper made the save, but his parry fell to Chalov, who had the simple task of tapping home from inside the six yard box.It wasn’t just Cech who was to blame for this goal. Our keeper will get the headlines, but our defence were so slow to react to the second ball and Chalov greedily snaffled home the goal that gave the home side the belief they needed to chase the game. Vitinho, an early sub for Dzagoev, shot over just moments later, as CSKA started to push forward. Aaron Ramsey then hurt himself sliding on the deck, but luckily he recovered to come back to the field just before the half time whistle blew. It was a welcome intervention from the ref, as we were on the ropes.The home fans wouldn’t have to wait long for their second though.Five minutes into the second half, and CSKA pulled another goal back, making the comeback a real possibility. It came from another Golovin long ranger, and Cech again parried weakly, leaving Nababkin to spank home and send the fans into a frenzy. Arsenal had come out in the second half with a change of shape. Mohamed Elneny had moved into the backline, making a back 3 - or 5 if you prefer - but it made no difference. Moscow was rocking, and could smell blood.I haven’t written about an Arsenal effort on goal as there hadn’t been any. After showing the Moscow defence no mercy in the first leg and finding out they had the beating of them should they wish, we went into our shell and showed no attacking intent whatsoever, leaving CSKA to lay siege at our goal instead. We started to show a little more effort after the second goal went in, but to no avail, and even after 70 minutes, we still hadn’t registered a shot on target. Jack Wilshere was subbed for Calum Chambers, with Elneny going back into midfield, as Wenger attempted to shore up our porous defence. We were struggling and needed a stronger foundation than Jack was offering. To be fair, it was yet another poor game from Jack, who has been off form of late. A bad time to not show up, just when his team needed a big performance.His teammates were guilty of this too. We were lacking any character, or leadership to see us through this rocky stage. Ignashevich volleyed just wide on 72 minutes, and it was inches from putting CSKA in dreamland.It was finally the wake up call we needed. Danny Welbeck was again the hero, after his brace bagged us the points in the weekend versus Southampton. The England striker cuts in from the left and passes to Elneny. The Egyptian gives the ball back with a first time pass and Welbeck does the rest with a calm and precise finish. It meant with 15 minutes to play, CSKA needed two more goals just to force extra time. A minute before the goal and they were pushing for the one goal they needed to go through.Dat Guy Welbz made a big difference.Alex Iwobi replaced Alexandre Lacazette straight after the goal, and it seemed that we had indeed booked our place in the last4, but only after a real scare. The goal by Welbeck also made us the top scorers in this seasons Europa League, but we looked anything but dangerous over the course of these 90 minutes. But we had done enough. Our one shot on target had delivered a goal.Calum Chambers registered a second effort on target for us with a header straight at the keeper, as the minutes ticked by, edging us closer to the semi-finals. Aaron Ramsey helped us avoid the loss, taking Elneny’s pass and putting his finish above the sprawling Akinfeev. We saw out the rest of the time allotted, and we had scraped through with a lackadaisical performance that could have been made easier with an early goal that we were easily capable of. There were a few who stood up for us and gave a hearty performance, but Mohamed Elneny and Danny Welbeck were the ones who really had helped us across the line. We do need to be a little more attacking in our last four tie though, if we’re to go any further.We had invited pressure and chose to sit back, and it was nearly our undoing. Still, we are through, and that’s the main thing. Fingers crossed we avoid Atletico Madrid in the draw tomorrow. We were professional in this game, but we were far from our best, and it won’t be good enough should we face the Spaniards.