Anyone who has watched us play over the last few months will know that we have an almost uncanny ability to self-destruct at any moment. And after a rather fortunate goal (in my opinion) to give us the lead and put us firmly in control it looked for all to see that we were going to do it again. If the weekend was Xhaka’s fault then last night it was firmly Leno’s. Again the German keeper played the ball directly in front of him but this time Ceballos was already under pressure, by the time the ball reached him the attacker was on top of him. Leno was miles off his line and the striker simply curled the ball around him into the corner. Shit.
The Greek side piled on the pressure and we all feared the worst. That sinking feeling that they were going to turn the tie on it’s head and probably should have done. Now a lot has been said about the character of this side and questionably the lack of it, but as Willian (again) swung the ball into the box Gabriel answered some of the questions. In football sometimes you can look at the movement of players, admire the skill used to give the defender the drop etc. And sometimes it’s simply about wanting the ball more. Last night it was the latter, the Brazilian outfought and out jumped the Greek defence and powered his header home.
5 minutes later we had a third. Mohammed Elneny is a player that I’ve never disliked but I’ve never thought was good enough for Arsenal and after last night that hasn’t changed, but I could’ve kissed the Egyptian after his absolute rocket clipped the post and went in. It was a great goal and a vitally important one. A goal at the Emirates next week would mean the Greeks need 3 for extra time and 4 to win it outright.
In the post match Zoom call (on it’s one year anniversary!) we discussed the team, the mistakes and everything in between. The mood was overall jubilant as it should be. But as the call ran on thoughts of course turned to that lot this weekend. It will be a challenging game as it always is and although next Thursday’s second leg is still more important, this is the game we all look for…