Glenn Moore: How Arsenal's season was re-ignited ... and against the most obliging of rivals
Published 27/02/2012 | 16:41
WHEN this result reached Lombardy, even Milan may have paused for thought. Although it remains highly unlikely Arsenal will overturn the Italian side's 4-0 Champions League first-leg advantage, this match showed what Arsène Wenger's team are capable of. In that respect, it could prove one of the season's most significant games. If ever 90 minutes reminded the club's players, fans and, indeed, manager, of Arsenal's continuing potential, this was surely it.
That could have telling ramifications, not just in the fight for a Champions League qualifying place, but also for Robin van Persie's summer contract talks and Wenger's hitherto souring relationship with supporters. Those fans may now also be prepared to grant Theo Walcott more leeway. Viciously abused by his own support for much of the first half, during which Arsenal fell two goals behind, the young Englishman scored twice in the second period before leaving to a standing ovation. Confidence means everything to a player, even elite ones, and if Walcott's is repaired, club and country could benefit hugely.
Van Persie, again leading by deed and example, and Tomas Rosicky, who was simply outstanding, also scored but the key strike came, improbably, from Bacary Sagna, the full-back's fourth in 331 career matches. It was his header, five minutes prior to half-time, that transformed north London's match and mood.