“It gave us belief to finish the season well and from then on we have done well,” Arsene Wenger recently said referring to the Bayern away game last season. Belief is a virtue and it takes you places. It is not cardinal that people need to believe you for you to win. You just got to believe yourself.
That’s what Arsenal have been doing this season, believing themselves, when almost every one who got a keyboard or a chance to opine their views on Tv or on social media have written off the Gunners . “Arsenal can’t win the title”, “They don’t have a big squad”, “If Giroud is injured Arsenal are done” these are the commonly thrown rebukes at Arsenal and their surprisingly sustained title challenge.
Lets wind the clocks back a year, Arsenal knocked out of the FA cup by championship side Blackburn, played off the park by Bayern at home, cut adrift from the 4th place after defeat to Spurs and the then Spurs manager Villas Boas rather prematurely made a snide comment ” they are in a negative spiral in terms of results – and to be out of that negative spiral is extremely difficult. ”
Arsenal then made the daunting trip to Allianz Arena to overturn a two goal deficit to progress to the quarter finals. Arsene Wenger made a brave decision, he dropped both Szczesny and Captain Vermaelen.
Out of the debris blossomed a flower, the Mertesacker-Koscielny pair was born. Arsenal won the game but lost the tie. That win was cathartic and importantly confidence restored, spirits roused and belief instilled. We went on to finish 4th, above Spurs who ended in fifth, putting them firmly in their place. (Spurs enjoy your Thursday nights. It’s very difficult to get out of the Europa league spirals and enjoy your football in Transylvania.)
This time around we are not in a too dissimilar position, in Europe of course. We are point off the top in the league and by the time we play Bayern we may have secured a trip to Wembley for the Cup semifinals.
Sure Bayern would have learnt from their mistakes and under Pep they have progressed from perennial winners to near Invincibles. But Arsenal too have made great strides scrambling for fourth place to challenging for the title within a year.
I believe Arsene will go for it in the second leg. The way we sliced open Bayern in that breathtaking 10 minutes would have been hugely encouraging. It is inconceivable but not insurmountable. Who knows, an early goal and with a bit of luck, whisper it we may just edge them. All Arsenal got to do is BELIEVE. COYG