Going into the game at the San Siro, bar Arsene Wenger’s pre-match excuse that suggested that AC Milan may’ve relayed the wings of the pitch to stunt Arsenal’s ability to express themselves with width and not because it had already endured thirty-five games this season and not because the Frenchman is still trying to flog the dead horse that is Theo Walcott as the real deal either, the stats were casting the tie in a positive light for The Gunners.
Against the traditionally defensive and slow-moving Italian set-ups, which may’ve been expected when The Gunners took on an aging AC Milan side, Arsenal have a strong track record: over two-legged clashes, Arsene Wenger’s side have never been sent home by Italian sides and furthermore, English clubs as a whole have been responsible for eliminating AC Milan in the past three Champions League knock-out stages. Having beaten Arsenal 4-0 on Wednesday night, that trend looks unlikely to continue, at least not for another round or two if at all: but, what did we learn from Arsenal’s humiliation?
Wenger keeps buckling under pressure
Always buying for the future and always investing in youth, that is what has come to be expected from Arsene Wenger: however, on a night where the latest kid on the block looked ready to play, physically and mentally, Arsene Wenger bottled it. Despite his emphasis on youth, the Frenchman went for experience over excitement, safety over skill and, ultimately, sideways passing over speedy direct wing play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the bench, whilst Aaron Ramsey, fresh from striking his fourth deadly goal, started in his place.
The early travesty that was Arsenal’s start to the season saw Arsene Wenger quite literally lose it: his head in his hands, his hands grasping at his wet hair, was symbolic of The Gunners’ start to the campaign and a highly accurate depiction of what some people believed to be the start of the demise of Arsene Wenger. The season finally looked like it was taking shape for The Gunners during January, despite an underwhelming transfer window, and they overtook Chelsea to push into the top four as February hit its halfway point. However, although Alex Chamberlain’s introduction has had quite an impact on Arsenal’s performances, faced with AC Milan at the San Siro, Wenger buckled under pressure once more and went with experience over youth, irrelevant of talent, in an Arsenal season so far defined by rash and random decisions by the Frenchman.
Whilst on the topic of Age and Experience……………
On the day that it was announced that the average age of retirement had risen to 65, it was the side with even more experience than the one Arsene Wenger fielded in the belief that it had more experience than what was probably the better choice of a starting line-up, including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, that won and won convincingly: in fact, it was so convincing, it was Arsenal’s worst ever Champions League proper defeat.
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