After a convincing Europa League first-leg victory that came about more through quality than desire, Arsene Wenger bristled slightly at the suggestion that this 2-0 win at San Siro was what his side had neededafter a torrid run of three defeats in six days.
“It was what we wanted,” Wenger corrected.
“At some stage you need to respond and respond together with a good performance, and that’s what we did tonight.
“In England we have a strange system. We have a cup final in the middle of the season. We played an opponent in a cup final on the Sunday and then the same opponent on the Thursday. It is like a boxing match, you get knocked down before you have time to get up again.”
If this was a boxing match then this round-of-16 tie feels like Milan have already received a knockout blow. Mesut Ozil’s brilliance set up goals for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey before half-time to ensure a comfortable first-leg victory and, should it come to it, a couple of away goals as extra insurance.
It was a win, in Wenger’s eyes, to remind Arsenal how good they were.
“When you have these big disappointments you forget quickly that you have qualities,” he added.
“In one week you don’t become a bad team or bad player. Nothing is permanent in life.
“Football is football. At the start we face three or four corners and one goes in and we are in trouble but you have to accept luck and coincidences. They are part of the game.
“We want to show that we have the mental resources and qualities that we have. We had them to get to the cup final but then lose to the team that is dominating English football at the minute. It doesn’t mean that we have no spirit and we are going to show that until the end of the season.”