Atletico vs Arsenal: The Only Game That Matters
When Arsene announced on April 20, 2018 that he would be stepping down as the manager of Arsenal Football Club after 22 years in charge, I did not know how to react. I had written [HERE] back in 2016 that Arsene had to take a break from football and leave Arsenal alone. When that really did happen though, I wasn't prepared. Subconsciously, secretly, I was clutching to those last thinned out cotton strings that maybe he might have a bit of magic left in him to do something extraordinary.
He just might.
With Arsenal facing Atletico tonight (4 am in Japan which is just the worst time ever) at the return fixture at Madrid, there could be one last twist to such an incredible story from Arsene Who? to Arsene the Professor to well, Arsene Out. Out for him it is, but I strongly feel the players at the club owe him big time and win him a European trophy, even though it's still is a second tier one.
Things aren't exactly looking great though. The team has lost all - yes all - away games in 2018, couldn't beat a 10 men handicapped Atletico at home and worse, allowed an away goal. The north Londoner's defensive record is in shambles and continues to concede game after game after game. German defender Mustafi is going through a patch where he's been reading the balls slightly better than seven year olds playing 5-a-side sunday league football and both our goalkeepers are dangerously close to Fabianski territory.
All Atletico has to do is to soak up the pressure, stay patient, throw in those long diagonals to that old-looking Costa, also probably the most unhandsome footballer of all time (who also happens to have the best goal scoring record against Arsenal btw), let Mustafi do his usual thing and roll the ball to the net while Ospina stretches in full with his tiny hands. Add a dash of incredible home support and you are staring down a worst case scenario barrel.
They say that when you pick up a gun and you go out there to fight a war, you don't actually fight for your country or the flag you represent. You fight for the person next to you. You fight because everyone close to you is fighting. If there's any hope that Arsenal will come through this fixture unscathed, it will have to be that players well and truly play for Arsene. Step up and go all the way to final and win the trophy for him. Forget Arsenal. Do it for him. Because of all the paucity games left to play this season, today's fixture is the only one that is going to matter.
Let's get shooting.