CSKA Moscow 2-2 Arsenal: Gunners survive scare as they reach the semi-finals - 5 talking points
FOOTBALL By Mirror | April 13th 2018
Arsenal survived a scare away to CSKA Moscow as they ensured progression to the Europa League semi-finals.
The Gunners found themselves two down and just a goal away from being knocked out of the competition.
Fyodor Chalov opened the scoring when he tapped home a rebound off Arsenal keeper Petr Cech.
The Czech stopper then flapped at a long-range effort giving Kirill Nababkin to double CSKA's advantage.
Danny Welbeck then gave Arsenal the safety of an away goal when he latched onto Mohamed Elneny's pass to pull one back.
Aaron Ramsey grabbed an equaliser late on to seal their route to the next round.
Here are five talking points...
The physical cost of the Europa League
Europe's lesser competition might not be as technically grueling as the Champions League, but it's certainly harder on the legs.
There are more games to play for one, and generally further distances to travel - this year Arsenal have already visited Sweden's isolated, and very snowy, city of Ostersund, and were tonight in Russia's capital Moscow.
Extra games and tired players can take a real toll on performances, especially as Arsenal are expected to compete in every tournament they're in this season, and aren't exactly blessed with a plethora of quality.
In the first leg of the north London club's quarter-final tie they lost Henrikh Mkhitaryan to injury, and it now looks as if he'll be out for the rest of the season.
While in the second leg Aaron Ramsey was forced off the pitch on a stretcher, before making a dramatic return with blood seeping through his sock, and Jack Wilshere went down clutching his ankle as the referee called time on the first half.
Fortunately, like Ramsey, the Englishman was able to play on.
Arsene Wenger cannot afford to lose any more players, not if Arsenal are to remain one of the favourites to win the Europa League.
Arsenal learned nothing from Barcelona
Barcelona took a 4-1 lead to Italy in the Champions League on Tuesday, expecting Roma to bow down to them and give them safe passage to the semi-finals.
But the Italian giants had other ideas. They took the game to the Catalan giants, who showed so little respect for their opposition they had no plan B.
Roma went on to win the game 3-0, knocking Barcelona out on away goals, and stunning the entire world in the process.
Arsenal should have taken note of what happened in Italy, but instead approached tonight's game with the same lax attitude.
The offered very, very little going forward - despite an attacking line-up - and found themselves 1-0 down at the break.
In the second half, CSKA Moscow doubled their lead and continued to knock on the door until Danny Welbeck finally scored the all-important away goal, with just 15 minutes left to play, to send the Gunners through.
All's well that ends well as they say, but far from convincing.
Success starts at the back
Arsenal's attacking prowess is obvious, as the first leg proved.
But it's defence that wins trophies, and Arsenal's is lacking in quality and structure.
The Gunners were found wanting at the back again, as Moscow gave Arsene Wenger's side a real scare before Danny Welbeck's goal.
Nacho Monreal was beaten in the air for the first goal, while the rest of the back four watched on as Fyodor Chalov put the home side in front.
The defence were static again as Moscow doubled their lead, this time failing to react quick enough to the rebound off Petr Cech as Kirill Nababkin volleyed in.
Moscow are hardly world beaters, and with the likes of Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann still left in the draw, you wonder whether Arsenal's defence is strong enough to take them all the way.
On this evidence, you'd say not.
They can do better than Petr
It's sad to see, but Petr Cech is not the goalkeeper he once was.
Arguably considered as one of the finest stoppers of the Premier League era, Cech no longer commands games in the way we've seen in years gone by.
At 35, the Czech international is in his twilight years, and is certainly on borrowed time at the top level.
Whilst not at fault for the goals, Cech didn't cover himself in glory, fumbling the first and flapping at the second goals that a younger version of himself would undoubtedly have done better with.
Arsenal need to strengthen if they are to challenge for major honours next season, and between the sticks is one area they'll be looking at.
With the competition now at the business end, Cech has a chance to be the hero.
Should the Gunners go all the way, it could well be his swansong.
The Gunners have still got it
It's been a bleak time as an Arsenal fan in recent times.
The Wenger In, Wenger Out debate continues to rage on as the North London side show no real threat of returning to their superior, glory days.
However, if the club’s supporters needed a glimmer of hope, they should look no further than Danny Welbeck's goal.
A great passing move - synonymous with the Arsenal we've all come to know - was finished well by the England hitman.
Moscow simply couldn't deal with the Gunners slick movement, with Mohamed Elneny providing the killer ball for Welbeck to slide home.
Their's life in the old dog yet.
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