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Have Arsenal rediscovered their lost mojo?

European glory is a feasible dream for the Gunners should they maintain their current level of play and attitude

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature 14 Mar 2018, 20:07 IST
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Arsenal
Arsenal finally got back to their winning ways against Milan

It was only a week ago when Arsenal were handed an embarrassing defeat by Brighton and the all too familiar "Wenger Out" signs were raised - in more numbers than before, since it came in the wake of the three consecutive defeats.

The arrival of the former Dortmund duo of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave hope to a waning Arsenal side. But the results did not arrive the next instant, and Arsenal were struck by a further blow when Alexandre Lacazette injured his knee.

The Round of 16 of the Europa League was the most significant game of the season for Arsene Wenger and his men. They were facing a reinvigorated AC Milan, who have produced a remarkable turnaround since the new year under former Milan legend, Gennaro Gattuso.

Simply put, the odds were stacked against them.

Complete team performance

Arsenal silenced their critics in style with an impressive 2-0 win. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey scored for the away team, with Mesut Ozil providing both the assists. Arsenal were calm with the ball and they blunted the Milan attack with a neat defensive performance.


AC Milan v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg
Arsenal players celebrate after Mkhitaryan's goal against A.C.Milan

Arsene Wenger tried out a combo of Wilshere, Xhaka and Ramsey for the first time in a three-man midfield. The result was a thoroughly dominating midfield play, with the latter chipping in with a goal. The manager was forced to use Welbeck upfront since Aubameyang was cup-tied, but it didn't impede their road to victory.

Arsenal ends Premier League misery

After that, Arsenal came out to face Watford in their league fixture at the Emirates stadium on Sunday. A lot of talk surrounded the game before kick-off after the Watford captain, Troy Deeney's provoking "cojones" comment on the Arsenal players when the teams faced off earlier in the season.

Not only did Arsenal respond, but they also exhibited a masterclass in possession and link-up play in their forward line. Ozil picked out Shkodran Mustafi for the opening goal and collected his 200th career assist. The home team prodded the opposition defense continually and dominated possession for the majority of the first half.

Arsenal v Watford - Premier League
Petr Cech saves a spot kick en route to his 200th Premier League clean sheet

The second half started in similar fashion for the home team. Mkhitaryan proved his worth by providing a defense splitting pass to Aubameyang, who scored a composed goal. But Watford were awarded a chance to claw back when they were awarded a penalty.

It was Troy Deeney's turn to face the critics, after Petr Cech came up with a superb save to secure his chances of a record 200th Premier League clean sheet. Mkhitaryan teed up with Ozil to clinch his maiden goal for Arsenal in the Premier League and in the process, 3 valuable points for Arsenal.

Midfield pulls the strings in Arsenal's favour

Both the victories can be attributed to their dominant midfield performance, especially Granit Xhaka. The Swiss international picked the right passes and controlled the tempo of the game against A.C.Milan. He also intercepted crucial passes and cleared the danger (quite literally).

Against Watford, Mohammed Elneny was given a rare start and joined Xhaka and gave a solid performance - he pushed forward frequently and dropped deep when the team lost possession. More importantly, the team displayed much-needed character - something which was questioned by Sky Sports pundit, Gary Neville after the defeat against Manchester City.

Arsenal's European dream

After a disappointing start to the new year, Arsenal have surely turned up the heat and have started to deliver the goods. European glory is a feasible dream for the Gunners should they maintain their current level of play and attitude.

They face the 'Rossoneri' at home on Friday (16/03/2018 - 1:35 AM IST) and they will turn u with much more confidence than their previous meeting.



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