The Munich Miracle......Arsenal's All Too Familiar Tale of"So Close..Yet So Far.."
Yesterday night was surely a night to be remembered for all Arsenal‘s fans(be they die hard or plastic).For this was a classic tale of “A Tale gone horribly wrong”,although the wrong this time being incredibly right for the Gunners. At exactly 1:15 am IST ,I,along with the rest of the Arsenal Faithfuls around the world,looked up at the skies-(surely no horrid soul would even dream of praying at that hour),darkened as they are and begged,pleaded and hoped for a miracle.
The stage was set-the Battle hardened Allianz(unconquerable to many) ,the players in position,as the Gunners prepared for what was an imposing and an impossible match to win for many.For the “Professor”though,it was possible,Only He knew what his team is capable of,in full ebb and stretch.Prior to the start of the match,Arsene Wenger almost doubled me over when he named the starting line-up.Shaken i was,but that was quickly replaced by a somewhat intriguing sense of assurance,as i saw Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs deployed at the back.A no brainer was of course the selection of Laurent Koscielny over the more experienced Thomas Vermalen-who ,in all fairness,looked clueless in the home fixture.No Jack Wilshere of course,but our little”Magician” now had a chance to show us and the Boss what he still has to offer to Arsenal.Wojciech Szczesny’s omission would mean that Lukas Fabianski would have to be the one squaring off Kroos,Robben ,Mueller,and Mandzukic.
Kick-off and im already starting to feel the shivers in my cold room.Everything though was forgotten 3 minutes into the game.A counter attack which would make “The Invincibles” proud resulted in a stunning finish from Oliver Giroud(mind you,he has scored more goals than RVP in his first season),from close range.The Magician had started his work.Feeding Walcott to the right,who arrowed in a cross to the waiting Frenchman,for a simple flick in.Up in arms went the Gunners at the Allianz,as the deficit was reduced to 1.Wenger could’nt have asked for a better start.Im sure this was what he was planning and hoping for.
The tie was now wide open,as Bayern seemingly woke up from their slumber and geared up in full throttle,piling wave after wave of attacks.This then highlighted the shaky nature of the Arsenal backline ,yet again,who looked dangerously close to conceding in quick succession.This time around though,an inspired Fabianski produced a scintillating display,redeeming Wenger’s faith in him.In all fairness,Mertesacker,Koscielny,Gibbs and Jenkinson too played their part,although the ghosts of the “shambolic entity” did haunt us in bits and pieces.Jenkinson,though for me,showed glimpses of greatness,and I surely wonder”Do we really need a Sagna”replacement???Jenksinson played the role of an attacking righ-back to perfection,feeding the strikers well upfront and tracking back to keep a check on the marauding Germans.
Half-time and The Gunners hold on for a 1 goal lead.The Bavarians were hinged now on edges of uncertainty,prompting them to an all out offensive march upfront.
A double Arsenal substitution(Ramsey,Walcott off /Gervinho,Chamberlain on) was followed by Mario Gomez coming in for the ineffective Mandzukic,as Bayern sought the leveller,and closing off the tie. GERVINHO???surely Wenger has missed a spot in his plot!!! I was made to eat my words later,as Gervinho spun and wove around the Bayern backline a.l.a Lionel Messi(ah…for just a tiny bit of Messi!!!),and even came close to doubling the Gunners lead with a shot which trickled wide ,after turning from a Cazorla pass.
85th minute and all hell breaks loose in my home.The silence of near 0f the nearing dawn broken with my lone shout of “COME ON ARSENAL”!!!! Koscielny had just nodded in at the near post,from a delightful Cazorla corner.Impatience and anger crept in as Neuer hung on to the ball,even as as the Arsenal players crowded him to retrieve the ball back.A mini scuffle ensued,but thankfully the referee intervened ,even as i start to hear “Arsenal..Arsenal…Arsenal” coming from the stands.
Sucker Punched-that was the best word to describe the 2 goal cushion that Arsenal had imposed over Bayern.”Jupp” Heynckes now had a really really worried look on his face…as the threat of an Arsenal turnaround seemed imminent. I was on the edge of my seat,as i tug restlessly at my favourite Arsenal jersey….The minutes wore on,as i buried my head in my hands as the Bayern players waste away precious time with stupid looking dives,”fouls” and what not.The game fittingly ends inside the Arsenal half,with the Munich players closing the match at the corner post.
For yet another year,i was left devastated…Arsenal had yet again cast a magical spell…yet again left it late…yet again showed why they are still a force to be reckon with…and for yet another year,left me wondering with”What If”……
Out of the Champions League,but take nothing away from us..we withstood every attack,,absorbed every offence,and when given a half-chance,countered with intent.My ever”steadfast”,”faithful” Arsenal heart has been given new life…breathed with new passion.New heroes were born on this day,proven legends came to life…. This day is to be remembered for a long time…The Fabianski’s saves that kept out the German runaway league leaders,the Cazorla’s and Rosicky’s rings around the Bayern midfield,the Walcott’s pace that threatened with every run,and the overall 11 Arsenal bravehearts who can hold their heads high…..thump theirs chests and can only look forward to more gallant displays like this one…
The passion and heart of the 11 Arsenal players last night was rightly summed up by Gary Neville,who said “I don’t know him [Carl Jenkinson] well but he looks like a kid that would be willing to run into a brick wall for you.”…
Yes Arsenal,we need more kids like him…..
Gunner Forever….Arsenal Forever….