Arsenal through to the last 16 of the Europa League.
And shifting through the BS and disappointment of last night, being through is what is important.
It was an awful performance. A shocking defeat, against a bunch of fishermen from Sweden. On a cold night in North London, an Arsenal second string were hit cold. Two goals in 69 seconds saw a 3-0 lead from the away leg wiped out. Could it happen? Could also go out having had what seem an unassailable lead from the first leg?
Ultimately the unthinkable did not happen. Saed Kolasinac scored early in the second half to five Arsenal a 2 goal cushion and the rest of the game was played out at half pace.
Yesterday has to be up there with one of our worst defeats under Arsene Wenger. Ignore the big defeats against Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, I am talking about up there with Bradford in the League Cup.
But where as against Bradford, and Nottingham Forest earlier this year, Arsenal exited the competition after losing, yesterday we scrapped through.
This defeat, this game, will soon be forgotten about if in May Arsenal lift the Europa League. No one will care about the defeat, or the Cologne one, or the bore draws in the group stages. Winning the trophy will make up for that.
There is not much you can take out of last night, accept question the attitude of the players.
Bar 2 or 3, this was largely a second string. Still a team filled with internationals though. It is a side that should be fired up, looking to put in big performances to force their way into first team reckoning.
Not for the first time this season, the 2nd string has looked less than good enough. Just look at some of our cup results:
Nottingham Forest 4–2 Arsenal
Arsenal 1–0 Doncaster Rovers
Arsenal 2–1 Norwich City
Borisov 2–4 Arsenal
Red Star Belgrade 0–1 Arsenal
Arsenal 0–0 Red Star Belgrade
FC Köln 1–0 Arsenal
Arsenal 1–2 Östersund
Whilst not every poor performance has ended in a defeat, last minute winners against Norwich City and Red Star Belgrade did not cover up what was a poor performance.
The second string have had a dozen or so games this season to prove they are good enough. They have merely shown that they are not good enough.
What does the future hold for Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi?
Welbeck is 27 now. People still talk about his potential, but it is time to face facts and realise that he is not good enough. The same can be said for Alex Iwobi. He might be younger, but he should not have worn an Arsenal shirt as often as he has.
At the back Calum Chambers and Rob Holding have not kicked on. Both looked OK, but both suffered from being overhyped by fans after a few good performances.
Chambers was being labelled “the new Tony Adams” and Rob Holding sung about being “better than Canvarro”. Did we not learn anything from Senderos and Djoruou?
Whether it is down to coaching or both just not being top draw, the defence is a big cause for concern next season. With Per Mertesacker retiring and Laurent Koscielny having long standing injury issues, we need to go out and buy a first choice defender. Chambers and Holding are not good enough. Yet.
I could go on about who is and is not good enough, but I try and keep myself to a word limit. Jack Wilshere is another who struggled and showed why Arsenal are reluctant to offer him a new long term contract on increased terms.
It was just another game where the second string showed they were not good enough
Arsenal’s recent home form in the knockout stages can only be described as laughable:
2013 Arsenal LOSE 3-1 to Bayern Munich
2014 Arsenal LOSE 2-0 to Bayern Munich
2015 Arsenal LOSE 3-1 to Monaco
2016 Arsenal LOSE 2-0 to Barcelona
2017 Arsenal LOSE 5-1 to Bayern Munich
2018 Arsenal LOSE 2-1 Östersunds
6 in a row, against different levels of opposition, all lost.
So we lets look forward rather than backwards. Who can Arsenal face in the last 16:
AC Milan, Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, CSKA Moscow, Dortmund, D. Kiev, Lazio, Lokomotiv Moscow, Lyon, Marseille, V. Plzen, RB Leipzig, Salzburg. Sporting and Zenit.
It has to be time for Arsene Wenger to scrap the policy of playing his second string and go all out for the cup.