No one deserves anything in sport or life. But you know what, Arsenal fans deserved a slice of full fat goodness after partaking in a summer of frustration up there with the worst. There’s so much to chat about I can hardly type straight.
Before the game I caught the United game in the pub with a mate, not sure what to make of it. Firstly, United looked lost. Their average squad was exposed yesterday. Ferguson’s masterful skills of management highlighted, it’s like he times his exit perfectly to coincide with the wheels falling off. Moyes looks lost and out of his depth at the moment. Liverpool were marginally better and certainly played with more purpose. A team to watch in the top four tussle this season.
News then started breaking on Twitter, now arguably a better source of news than the newspapers. The rumour was a German, as the afternoon wore on, I found out it was Ozil… with the shocker that was Demba Ba is also a top target, plus this Italian keeper. How am I feeling about this? Well, firstly, 2 of the players are an improvement on the squad, one is a bit of a nothing signing. Ozil is a dream player (20 assists and 9 goals for Madrid last year)… whether many Arsenal fans have sat up late at night tapping F5 thinking, ‘you know what this side needs? A £40m creative player’ is another question’… the replacement for Rosicky? Or the replacement for Cesc? Will he agree terms, as some places are saying he doesn’t fancy it?
Arsene Wenger moves in mysterious ways. Rumours were strong that Di Maria might join the party. Again, super player, not sure he’s a must, but whatever, you don’t say no to top talent.
But, and there are some positive buts…
The Spurs game. What a day. What a game. What a way to sign off the transfer window.
The atmosphere was electric from the off. Our starting eleven was as predicted, or should I say, as forced by the injury gods and their nasty ways. We looked stronger than Spurs and started the game like we were going to own possession and impose our style on a team that was fairly new.
Cazorla had the best chances in the opening 15 minutes. Two free kicks, the first just to the left of the box from a Rosicky foul. Cazorla obviously had a quiet word with Theo and has taken control of the bad freekicks issue. He stepped up, carried his shot over the wall but Lloris matched it and turned wide. His second free kick had a bit of the genius about it… he slid a low driven shot under the jumping wall… it flashed just wide.
Spurs had their chances, Walker ghosted into our area, cut back to Soldado whose shot was blocked by Mertesacker’s chest.
Our goal came on 15 minutes, Rosicky played Theo into the box, his low cross was met at the front post with a smart outside of the boot Giroud finish… what a lovely move. Fast, incisive, devastating.
Rambo showed some serious grit when he battled two spurs players out wide, finished off with a beautifully weighted through ball that Theo rattled at Lloris…
Two other notable incidents from the first half were the Aaron Ramsey spooned shot from 18 yards which was so bad, he cleared 4 seats in club level. There was also the moment Theo was through on goal and he was clearly fouled. Speaking to a mate in the bar later, it was clear everyone in my block was wrong. It was a great save.
‘He left cause you’re shit, Gareth Bale, he left cause you’re shit!’
… reverberated around the ground…
The first half didn’t end well, Jack Wilshere plodded off injured. We all feared the worst after his full game in midweek, turns out it was just a precaution. He had the same bout of sh*ts Sagna had. We get that in my office if we share a particularly bad portion of late night deep fried goodness, so I felt his pain.
… on came Flamini. Instant forgiveness for being a beast when he left. He was tearing around the pitch like a lunatic immediately. The passion is still there, the energy is in abundance… he looks like the player we said goodbye to.
Arsenal continued to play their counter attacking style into the second half. I guess the reason we’re allowed to play like this at the moment is because we have a solid defence who can soak up pressure. Mertesacker was excellent all afternoon. He reads the game so well. He’s always in the right place to make a block and his height is such a huge asset to our backline. His partnership with Koscielny really is working well, the Frenchman having another solid game.
The second half was about the saves. The first was from Lloris, Giroud pulled down a long ball with a heavy touch, he rattled off his shot which apparently deflected wide, Lloris scrambled across his goal and turned it wide.
Chezzer continued his good form with a scintillating save from a deflected Townsend shot (you have to forgive me if some of these details are wrong, when stuff goes on down the other end, you can’t see), followed up with the double save moments later. That’s what we haven’t been getting from him over the past few seasons. That’s what we need every week
Giroud looked like he’d picked up an injury at one point, apparently he had a dead leg, Wenger made him stay out. He fought on. Throwing himself in every long ball, shutting down defenders and causing lots of problems. Yesterday really was his best game in an Arsenal shirt. It was capped off by a magical moment down the right when he took on two Spurs players, breezed into the box, cut back to Theo who couldn’t finish.
Something nasty happened to Capoue. Not really sure how much input Cazorla had into it, looked very tame from where we were, but he was stretchered off.
The game was pretty tense in the last five minutes. Every corner was defended as a team, Flamini was barking orders at everyone, that was infectious, Ramsey started shouting at people, it was a real heroes performance in the end. The ref blew up after 90 minutes and everyone stayed behind to cheer the team. I mean seriously, there were more people there after the game than there were at the Fenerbache game. It was even more fun outside the ground. Thousands of people gathered around the Tony Adams statue, singing at it, like he was there with us… so much fun. So nice to see the Gooner community rejoice together, especially heartening as you had tourist fans chanting songs they clearly had no idea about, just joining the fun. Hopefully we’ll have more of that through the year.
So what are my thoughts on the game?
Well, as they were before really. We have the better starting eleven. We had more decisiveness in the final third, our style was more bedded in and we had far more quality in defence. Our counter attacking football really does break fast even though we don’t have a pacey striker. It felt like Spurs controlled the posession, but they never really threatened. I said to a few of the people around me that I don’t fear we’re going to concede these days… I don’t think the team do either. That’s a huge bonus.
Stand out performers for me were Ramsey, Giroud and Mertesacker. They all had tremendous games and they all rose to the challenge of the north London derby.
All the concerns are still there though. Having a great starting 11 is nothing without a squad to back it. There’s a lot of smug being shot the way of Spurs. They spent £120m, therefore they should be competing for the league. Look, I don’t want to piss on anyone’s chips, but a season is a long and winding road. Spurs issues over the past 2 season have centred around falling away when it counts. They now have a squad that can cope with a full season. They have depth. Whether it gels is another question, but they have the bodies we don’t. Outside our starting eleven, we’re struggling to bring people on. When Giroud had a dead leg yesterday, he couldn’t defend from the front which led to a good Spurs attack… if he had a Demba Ba on the bench, he’d have brought him on… he had a Sanogo, so he didn’t make the change.
… on Demba Ba, interesting that he was too similar to Giroud in January, now he’s a good fit. Lots of Gooners who said he wasn’t good enough are going to have to suck it up and get behind him now. I think he’s a good player, looking forward to seeing what he’ll bring, if we do land him, because as with all transfers, nothing is set in stone…
Now, this is the issue. Wenger doesn’t trust half the bench he has now. We’re paper thin squad wise. That doesn’t bite you now, it bites you in December. How do I know this? Because it happens to us nearly every year. If we sign Ba, Ozil and Viviano, we’ve made big strides. Throw in Flamini… and you’d have to say, the chances of us signing Cabaye are probably slim to none, but I’d still like another body in there because the stats quite clearly state we can’t rely on our midfielders for more than 29 games a year. Wenger making snipey comments about fans moaning about him not spending money aren’t off… we don’t care about the money, we care about having a squad. We’ll take Cazorla’s and Koscielny’s all day long. Just get them in and give the boys a chance. Vermaelen will be back after the international break, so I think that tells you there won’t be any more defenders. I just hope that if over the next few hours, a chance crops up to bring in a decent body, we take it… because for me, Eriksen and Sakho look like quality players we’ve missed out on.
Anyway, enjoy transfer deadline day, I’ll be on Twitter most of the day, tune in. It should be fun!
Also. enjoy the pictures below. Especially the video.