Arsenal talking points as Arsene Wenger lifeline in Europa League remains suspect despite late flourish

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Arsenal endured a tough evening in Moscow.

Arsenal secured a first continental semi-final since 2009 after they survived a charge from CSKA Moscow to draw 2-2 on the night and progress 6-3 on aggregate in the Europa League.

The Gunners boasted a healthy 4-1 advantage from last week’s opener at Emirates Stadium. But they were within one goal of going out by 50 minutes thanks to rebounds from attackers Fedor Chalov and Kiril Nababkin.

Any worries about a painful exit were then settled in the latter stages. England forward Danny Welbeck converted from Egypt midfielder Mohamed Elneny’s delightful pass and then during injury time Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey dinked home his fourth goal in four appearances in the competition this term.

Here are the talking points:

WENGER REIGN REMAINS ON SHAKY GROUND

If Arsene Wenger’s storied – and undulating – Arsenal stint is to stretch into a 23rd year, victory in the Europa League appears vital.

With access to the riches of the Champions League locked out through the Premier League for a second-successive season, entry through the back door is required.

But after Thursday night’s largely nervous display in the Russian capital before their late flourish as the game became stretched, overall success seems anything but assured.

A 4-1 lead from the first leg should have guaranteed the easiest of passages into the semi-finals. Plus, CSKA had lost their last five matches against English opposition and no Russian team had defeated an English side since 2009.

Yet for more than a decade since the days of ‘The Invincibles’, the Gunners never chose the easy way. The second half was a tense affair until Welbeck produced his superb settler with 15 minutes left.

Arsenal’s suspect defence were statues for both goals, while only four shots on target were recorded by them.

Likely rivals for the trophy Atletico Madrid also struggled on the night at Sporting Lisbon. Yet the likes of Diego Simeone, Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa will relish facing this Arsenal.

The second year on Wenger’s deal might not provide ample security.

DANNY IS THE BOY

Bolters for World Cups regularly appear at this stage.

There is no doubt now that goal scorer Welbeck is pressing a strong case to play a big role again on Russian soil in two months’ time.

The Manchester United youth product was the brightest player in a turgid first half for the visitors. Always a threat on the counter-attack, he set-up strike partner Alexandre Lacazette for a blocked shot and later teased a cross just beyond Ramsey’s reach.

The best was to come with 15 minutes left. A wonderful one-two with Elneny was followed up by a fitting and emphatic finish high into the net.

This was the Gunners’ second shot on target, ending any nerves about an embarrassing elimination. For Welbeck, this was also a fifth goal in his last four starts – following on from the weekend brace against Southampton.

Allied with Ramsey’s second, it helped prevent a sixth defeat in 10 away matches in all competitions.

The 37-times-capped international is not likely to start at the World Cup. But it is easy to see why head coach Gareth Southgate was so happy to reintegrate him last month after another long spell out injured.

MUSTAFI MAKES ANOTHER MESS OF IT

It feels utterly incongruous watching the error-prone Shkodran Mustafi that he is seventh-most expensive defender of all time and a World Cup winner with Germany.

The £35 million (Dh182.9m) recruit from Valencia in August 2016 followed on his weekend horror show against Saints with another suspect display against CSKA.

Mustafi wasn’t alone on a night to forget at the back.

Spain left-back Nacho Monreal was outjumped for the first and the second came from his side, plus both came from parries by goalkeeper Petr Cech. But their 25-year-old team-mate’s contribution was still suspect.

This time, he was left chasing shadows as 20-year-old forward Chalov charged in unopposed to tap-in Nababkin’s saved header for the opener.

Clearly, no lesson had been learned from Sunday’s decision to let Shane Long shoot unopposed and instead shuffle blame to the blameless veteran Cech.

It is no wonder reports in the British media emerged last month that this character trait has infuriated his team-mates.

Managers of Wenger and Joachim Low’s repute place value in Mustafi. The time is now for him to show why.

Most popular

Follow live match updates from CSKA Moscow v Arsenal and other Europa League deciders

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Arsenal are looking to get the job done in the Europa League at CSKA Moscow.

The last set of Europa League quarter-finals are upon us, with Arsenal’s trip to CSKA Moscow the highlight.

The Gunners boast a commanding 4-1 aggregate advantage from last week’s first leg and they will be looking to get the job done this evening. Atletico Madrid can say the same thing as they look to press home a 2-0 lead against crisis-hit Sporting Lisbon.

Elsewhere, RB Leipzig previously earned a 1-0 win against Marseille and there should be more goals when Red Bull Salzburg chase a 4-2 deficit against Lazio.

Follow all the football with our live blog:

Most popular

Pele vs Lippi for a Legendary Hublot's Match of Friendship with an All World Cup legends Line Up in Dubai

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, Pele could do no wrong with the ball at his feet.

And now the Brazilian has the chance to taste success on the coaching front – doing battle with World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi in the Hublot Match of Friendship at Dubai Opera Gardens on April 15.

The event marks Hublot’s official countdown to the 2018 World Cup and will see two teams brimming with talent face off at one of the UAE’s greatest arenas.

Hublot – official timekeeper to the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer – is bringing together the friends of the brand to celebrate the beautiful game in the UAE with star-studded teams created especially for this game.

World Cup winner Marcel Desailly will be in action for Pele’s team, along with Brazilians Serginho and Dida, and UAE star Majed Hassan.

While Lippi also has a stunning team, including fellow Italians Marco Materazzi, Amelia and Gianluca Zambrotta, World Cup winner Christian Karembeu of France and Saudi Arabia legend Sami Al Jaber.

With 65 days to go before the first match of the 2018 World Cup kicks off, Hublot is continuing to build the excitement ahead of football’s greatest showpiece this summer.

Hublot Boutique Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall, Grand Atrium, Level-G, Dubai

Hublot Boutique Dubai MOE
Mall of the Emirates – Level 1, Sheikh Zayed Road, 4th Interchange, Dubai UAE

Most popular

Related Sections