Lucky or not, remember the number: 13.
For the 13th successive season Arsenal FC reached the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. After running into a red-hot FC Bayern München, it took a player with 13 years of Arsenal history under his belt to lend some perspective to their plight.
Nigel Winterburn is no stranger to European football with the Gunners, nor to the methods of Arsène Wenger having played under him just before the start of that UEFA Champions League sequence. The former full-back is therefore eager to stress the excellence of the Bundesliga leaders during last Tuesday's 3-1 first-leg win, not least that of another wide defender.
"It was an away performance that was absolutely magical to watch in terms of the way they handled themselves and the way they moved the ball," he told UEFA.com's matchday radio show, Matchday Live.
"Philipp Lahm was exceptional in his runs down the outside and look at the way they worked off the ball when Arsenal regained possession, that was the sign of a great team: great players busting a gut to run 50 or 60 metres to defend for their team. When Arsenal started to play out from the back, they were pressed and not given time."
One of the 13 players involved in red and white on the night in north London, Mikel Arteta left the arena at full time with a puff of the cheeks that indicated he was baffled at what he had just seen. Their positive periods in the match at least offer hope ahead of the return in Germany on 13 March, enabling Winterburn to contextualise the first 90 minutes.
"It's a tough time for the football club after Arsenal's loss in the FA Cup and this very difficult night in the UEFA Champions League, because it will be very difficult to go through. They do have some very good players at Arsenal, though, whether or not they choose to strengthen in the summer – just the inconsistency is difficult. We even saw it in the conceding of the third goal after Arsenal's really good period for 20 minutes around [Lukas] Podolski's goal."
You can listen to Matchday Live, including commentary, reaction and expert analysis, via the UEFA Champions League MatchCentre between 19.30 and 23.30CET on every night of action.
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