James Lawton: A night when Arsenal went so close to a mighty triumph of renewal
YES, we can say it as coldly as we like now. It was always too good to be true. Yet we should give Arsenal, a team fighting to regain some of their old life and grandeur of purpose, a tribute that has become extremely rare these last few months. We can say that this was a team which created rather more than a spark of belief in the possibility that one day in the not too distant future they may well come again. Not as just as contenders but something that might be recognised as Arsenal, a team of new horizons and old values.
This would have been a mighty triumph of renewal. Instead, it was a departure from the Champions League that had held the possibility of something close to shame. But there was no no hint of humiliation last night – only one-deep disappointment that an impossible dream had simply ebbed away.
Impossible? For a while Arsenal made it seem no more than a task of some urgency, an opportunity for players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Laurent Koscielny to confirm Arsène Wenger's belief that even in the absence of Jack Wilshere he has players who can make something of this season that once promised only disaster.