Keyur Mandrekar, Denver, USA :
Arsenal vs Wolverhampton Wolves : The rerun of Arsenal vs Wolverhampton Wolves was an epic battle for two teams trying to grab that coveted 4th Champions League spot. It was a battle between two teams that were flying under the radar for the first half of the season and now at the business end, with some consistent tough fought performances, have started knocking on the doors of Champions League.
Much was said of the second leg of the Arsenal vs Wolves game. Rewind a fortnight; the build up, the Gunners visit the Molineux, get a lead against an extremely disciplined Wolves side, and then call it an “FA intervention”, Arsenal were reduced to 10 men with Martinelli being sent off for two yellow cards in 30 seconds.
Arsenal, reduced to 10 men, managed to hang on to a barrage of attacks for the last 20 odd minutes and celebrated at the final whistle. This did not go well with some of the Wolves players who were vocal about their criticism about the post match celebration.
With that build up, the Gunners faced the Wolves within the fortnight and this time at the Emirates. Arsenal defense looked shaky right from the get go and to no one’s surprise gave away a goal through a Gabriel mistake. Maybe that was what was needed for Arsenal to wake up because after that, it was more of an evenly fought contest.
Arsenal kept attacking (Arsenal vs Wolverhampton Wolves)
Arsenal kept attacking and like the first leg, the Wolves showed their discipline by blunting everything in the final third. Martinelli looked most likely to score but surprisingly Arteta’s call of substituting Martinelli for Pepe was what turned the tide in Arsenal’s favor. Suddenly a newer dimension to attack opened up. Pepe cutting in from the right and taking on defenders was not something Wolves were prepared for and with 9 minutes to go, Arsenal found the back of the net.
This just opened the game with the ball going end to end and right in the dying seconds, Lacazette managed to find the back of the net.
It is hard fought victories like these that work wonders, not to the psyche of the fans, but more so for the team itself that starts believing in its abilities. Right from the start of the season, Arteta believed he was building something special while the fans were divided. With United firing hot and cold and Tottenham stuttering, Arsenal with two games in hand, may very well be that team that grabs the fourth place and re-enters Champions League.
With 14 more games to go, it may not be too soon to begin dreaming, or is it?
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