So it’s already 1-0 to Arsenal. Sure, it’s not quite ten minutes in, but Oliver Giroud has scored a delicious goal in the third. After all of my kvetching and tut-tutting about we shouldn’t make a big deal of this, we have a bit of a ballgame on our hands. While there’s still plenty of time on the clock, our boys are playing with some fluidity and energy while it’s Bayern looking rather toothless. If this stands, I will gladly suffer the taunts of the die-hards who insisted that we had to have this game. Even if it doesn’t stand, we’re showing mettle enough to restore some of our pride.
Giroud in particular is looking sharper than he has in a while and has snapped out of his slump, not only in scoring but in form. With Walcott back out wide again, the team is creating chances. If not for a missed touch from Rosický and some nices saves by Neuer, I daresay we could have had two by now. Defense is bending but not breaking to this point.
A quick look at the stats would convince a casual fan to assume that Bayern is in control of the game–nine shots (two on frame) to our one, 58% possession, two corners, three offsides…however, the one stat that matters is only one we need. We’ll never know if Bayern had planned to sit back because of how quickly Giroud scored. The goal was a veritable comedy of errors–one defender spins himself to the ground, Walcott nutmegs a defender on his pass, and Giroud sends it home so quickly that that the ball has bounced back out of the net before Neuer can even try to dive for a block. I know that Walcott wants to play more centrally, but this goal, and so many others, show that he might be best-placed on the wing, not only to take advantage of his speed, but also because his connection to a central striker seems to bring out Walcott’s best as well. This assist reminds me of so many more that he has tallied, and if he and Giroud can settle on roles, their relationship could become very productive indeed.
Well, before we get ahead of ourselves and make too many grand plans for the future, there’s a second half to be played. Gibbs has picked up a yellow, so he’ll have to mind his manners. God forbid we pick up a second goal–that third “goal” that Mandzukic scored in the first leg, one of the ugliest goals I’ve ever seen, could also become one of the most painful we’ve conceded. Game’s back on. Come on, Gooners…