It was a turmoil-filled week to say the least for Arsenal, the players on the field, and the manager, owner, and board off it. After slumping to defeat at Norwich in the Premier League, followed by a home defeat to Schalke in the Champions League – our first to a foreign team at home in the CL since 2003 – without scoring even one goal, it was horrific to say the least. Steve Bould attempted to blame it on the Internationals intervention, but we can’t be having excuses like that I’m afraid. Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis, Peter Hillwood, and Mr. Kroenke himself took the flack at the AGM; a meeting which couldn’t have come at a worse time for them. The usual Bu*****t excuses and promises were given by Wenger and co, much to the shareholders annoyance. Excuse my French. With Kroenke unable to give a real and proper answer when questioned about him taking money out of the club.
Nonetheless we returned to winning ways on the field, with a very sceptical and uncertain performance. It seemed for much of the game that we would endure another 90 minutes of pain, where we wouldn’t score and perhaps even lose again, handing another Premier League team their first victory of the season for the second time in a week. Jack Wilshere was the only bright spark and promising performer in a sea full of average performances really. He took on players, made runs, a great cross, a couple of shots, rode challenges and dished some out himself. There were promising signs with his and Cazorla’s quick exchanges and 1-2’s, hopefully more of those to come. And he pulled a lot of the strings in midfield while he was on, if not all of them. Jack is most definitely back.
Elsewhere on the pitch, Sagna was also back in action and his performance and overall presence cannot be overlooked. Jenkinson has undeniably made massive strides in Bacary’s absence but when the maestro of Right Back himself returns it’s blatant to see why he’s held that position for the last 5 years. Inch perfect crosses into the box. You can’t underestimate how hard they are, and how many players are incapable of delivering so well, so consistently as our Bac does. Not just that. He gets forward – just as well as Santos – but he knows how and when to get back. He uses his time and energy effectively. Always making the right decisions. At one point he was back in LCB, with a great challenge to stop a one-on-one chance. It’s easy to take these kinds of things for granted; but you simply can’t. These are the things that separate a promising youngster at RB with little experience from a World Class, internationally renowned one.
So these were good for performance and morale, and the fact that Gervinho didn’t start was certainly a positive (in my books). We took control of the game, for literally its entirety, but we didn’t have the level of penetrance that we have had in years gone past, and have equally needed this year. Giroud missed a few half-chances. As did Podolski. Other than this we were limited to outside the box shots, or set-pieces.
The goal did come, but only after an outrageous act of violence from Mbia, who had actually won a freekick but was sent off after kicking out at Vermaelen completely unnecessarily to the rage of the inconsolable Mark Hughes. This rage was then smacked around, multiplied by ten, and thrown in his face after we scored a goal he perceived to be offside. But I have no comment on that because “I didn’t see it”. As far as I’m concerned, after an awful week of supporting the team I love, my saviour Mikel Arteta put his defensive duties in the bin and netted home on the second time of asking from close range to give us a 1-0 win. On the whole I think we probably deserved it. Even though they had a great chance or two to come back and get an equaliser, and perhaps if Mbia stayed on we wouldn’t have got the break we did. But the thing is, we did, and now we have to take this momentum forward in the Cup against Reading, and much more importantly to Old Trafford, and even if I am way too optimistic, return the routing they gave us. They looked good v Chelsea today. But they also looked beatable and fragile at the back – I don’t rate Ferdinand or Evans in the slightest. And the way this league works we have what it takes to win, although we’ll need our best players at their best game. I shall keep my optimism and unexplainable hope until Saturday.
COME ON YOU GOONERS!