FA Cup's your last hope, Gunners
(Olivier Giroud 27, 29)
As their team calmly dismantled Middlesbrough piece by piece yesterday morning (Singapore time), Arsenal supporters sang about Wembley as if they already had one hand on the FA Cup.
With Liverpool and likely Manchester United (if they eliminate Preston North End) the only big teams left in the last eight, Arsenal stand an excellent chance of retaining their crown.
They are now, after all, two steps from Wembley in a competition that has been shorn of many top sides.
But this is also just about the only thing they look capable of winning this season.
For all the brouhaha over Olivier Giroud's opening goal, a tasty end product that involved all 11 Arsenal players, the Gunners' chances of silverware elsewhere remain bleak.
Their League Cup journey ended prematurely in the third round, hustled out by Southampton.
When Champions League football resumes, they'll find Monaco a very different kettle of fish to Middlesbrough. And if they get past the first knock-out obstacle, the likes of Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich lie in wait.
To land European club football's greatest prize will require a string of mini-miracles.
The English Premier League title is out of the question too, even if the mathematicians can still put up a case.
Fourteen points off the pace with only 13 league games left summarises a league campaign that has gone horribly, especially considering their revised strategy of competing again for the best players in the world.
Marquee signing Alexis Sanchez shone in his debut Premiership season. A shame, though, his teammates couldn't follow suit.
They were expected to be the Premiership dark horses. Currently, they aren't even in the top four.
So, suddenly the FA Cup takes on extra significance, as if the Gunners need a triumph somewhere as evidence of progress to pacify the pockets of unrest.
It explains why Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger refused to take chances against Boro, sending out a full-strength team at the Emirates Stadium.
With the Gunners taking the tie this seriously, there was little chance of an upset even for the high-flying Championship side, who had not been beaten in 10 matches.
Arsenal strolled it. They hardly broke into sweat. They were never in danger of getting eggs splattered over their faces.
Giroud made sure of that.
The beautifully worked opening strike in the 27th minute was reward for the team's domination, and the 28-year-old Frenchman wasted little time in getting his second soon after to kill off the visitors.
Aesthetically, it was just as breathtaking.
Sanchez floated towards the near post a corner-kick, which Giroud met with aplomb to send a volley into the back of the net.
Boro could not have left disappointed. The 2-0 scoreline flattered them.
Arsenal meant business.
Their best shot at glory is a consolation prize.
But then again, it's better than nothing at all.
Maybe the highest number of teams in the Premier League have gone out, but we still have some big teams in there. Let’s wait for the draw.
- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the quarter-final draw, which was scheduled for this morning