We almost take qualification into the next round of the CL for granted nowadays, but we only have to look at the Southern and Northern Oilers to realise how special it is to be once again in the last sixteen of the most prestigious club tournament in the world.
Montpellier made it hard for us in the first half by pressing constantly and not allowing us to keep the ball for long. I thought they did that really well; but as predicted they were not able to do much harm to us where it mattered most. They now only scored eight goals in their last seven games, and they must feel gutted seeing Giroud doing so well for us at the moment. I do feel for them a bit.
In the second half, Arsenal were better at keeping the ball and getting into areas where we could hurt them. Giroud proved to be the ideal attacking pivot in this game, as he unselfishly provided both Wilshere and Podolski with fine assists.
The first one started with a decent cross by Vermaelen towards Giroud; the Frenchman out-jumped his former teammates and presented Wilshere with the perfect assist. Jack did not believe his luck and calmly stroked the ball past and behind Jourdren. It was great to see the joy on Jack’s face: it had been two years – 10% of his entire life – since he scored last for Arsenal, so no wonder he was so pleased.
But the highlight of the night was the second goal. A strong and determined run by Ox, from the right-hand side towards Montpellier’s box, instigated the goal. Once he moved into the danger area, he passed the ball to Podolski just outside the box. The German quickly passed to Giroud, who also did not hesitate for a second and bounced the ball back to Podolski at the perfect height for his left howitzer. Podolski put all his venom into his volley, and Jourdren had no chance: a beautiful team goal, involving all three attackers.
After that, Montpellier tried to regain control but were never dangerous, and Arsenal could see out the game with relative ease.
A clean sheet and two fine goals; and Arsenal are now qualified for the next round: job truly and well done! With a bit of luck, there are no further injuries and we can start preparing for what will be, without any doubt, another tough, physical battle against Aston Villa in three days time.
I know many fellow Gooners reckon Arsenal have no chance to win the CL this year and they could well be right; but it is tournament in which luck plays a big part.
The clear favourites: Barcelona (Celtic), Real Madrid (Dortmund), and Bayern (Bate Borisov), have all been beaten in Europe already, and there is no reason to believe we cannot beat them too.
Clearly, Arsenal are outsiders, but you never know; maybe Arsene will be holding up the cup with the big ears at Wembley on the 25 May 2013. Stranger things have happened! 🙂