Morning good morning. Alex (@aldo_doel) here to write on the game that Arsenal did what won yesterday.
After my pre-game tuna nicoise salad and skinny latte I made my way to the stadium fired up for some football and ready to sing my heart out for the boys to show what a bloody great fan I am. Yesterday was a day of glorious sunshine at the Emirates, sunglasses weather, almost warm enough for shorts – a ludicrous concept in London in February.
The atmosphere understandably contrasted with the Bayern game which felt like Liveaid on ketamine. After the prestige and intensity of that game, a spirited but essentially garbage Sunderland side had more an end-of-season feelarama to it; nothing to play for, a relaxed atmosphere, a performance with the pressure off. Which is weird because we are slap bang in the middle of a title race.
Credit to the manager for ringing the changes. It’s a drum I’ve been banging for so long that I’m starting to sound like a Slayer record but… in the few seasons since 2005 where we have put a genuine title challenge together, February/March is where we started to fade. People attribute it to Eduardo’s leg break or the Carling Cup final. I prefer to believe it’s because the same 14/15 players had been worked into the ground over the preceding seven months and were mentally and physically knackered. You can tell me I’m wrong and a c*** on twitter later if you disagree.
Anyway the changes were rung. In came Lukas P on the left (about fucking time), a rested Giroud in for Sanogo (who acquitted himself very well against the European Champions by the way), Arteta for Flamini and Ozil not even in the squad. A controversial call perhaps but the right call. I don’t care how good you are – and Mesut Ozil is such a good footballer he makes me question my own atheism – everyone needs a rest sometimes. Especially in your first season in a new league, with no winter break, when you are not used to playing 90 minutes every week.
UPDATE: I’ve just flicked on Sky’s Sunday Supplement – the equivalent of a fart in a service station when it comes to football insight. The clowns on there were berating Ozil saying he’s not up to it (based on one penalty miss and poor performance against Liverpool). What utter nonsense. They just read out a text from a United fan saying Ozil was a poor man’s Wayne Rooney. No mate this is a poor man’s Wayne Rooney…
Anyway back to the game and Arsenal pretty much dominated from the off. Sunderland did a good job of chasing shadows and acting as moving human cones for Wilshere, Cazorla, Rosicky, Podolski and Arteta to pass around.
We got our opening early on after a driving run into the box from Cazorla (I think). After a bit of a scramble in the box, the ball broke to Giroud who buried it in the corner – a great start for the team and a boost for him, seeing as he hasn’t scored in about 68 months. We continued to dominate after the goal, looking entirely comfortable in possession and not that arsed when they were able to break. Mainly because they had one striker up front with the physique and touch of a Jacamo model; but also because LK6 had decided to wear his special shorts with the extra large pockets. (In his pocket… geddit?? Sorry…)
Ours, and Oli’s second, came a few moments later after a shite backpass from one of their players (I haven’t seen any highlights so forgive the vague reportage). Oli pounced on it and slotted it nicely away from a tight angle. Similar to the goal he scored against Southampton earlier in the season, it showed the difference a rest can make, as his mind was sharper than an HB pencil.
However both these goals were just warm up acts for the third which was Wengerball at its best. At the heart of it was #supertomrosicky who seemed to play a 1-2 with our entire team before being released by Oli and dinking it over Mannone. A real peach of a goal; similar, but not quite as good (for me anyway), Wilshere’s against Norwich earlier in the season. It upped the good feeling in the stadium to about 7.5 on the “Wenger In” scale. Fair play to Tomo as well. He really is a blinding player and, like Sagna, looks like he’s got at least another 3-4 years in him at the highest level.
So in we went at half time 3-0 looking very comfortable and playing really excellent football. At half time the great man that is Dennis Bergkamp showed up for a pitch side interview and to generally look like T1000’s more talented cousin. The reception he received was fantastic and it was amazing that during his interview you could hear a pin drop in the stadium, as everyone hung on his every word. He was asked whether he would return to the club in a coaching capacity and gave a fantastic politician’s answer of “I’m focused on the job I’m doing now but in the future who knows” which translates to “Yes please. I fucking love Arsenal. Please let me come back”. If any of the Board were at the game yesterday and saw the reverence and respect he is treated with by the fans they’d make him Chairman of the club tomorrow.
“What’s that? You’re putting season ticket prices up 6000% and forcing us to watch games sellotaped to our seats? Oh Dennis said it. Yeah that’s fine no worries.”
“I can’t believe Delaware are charging £19 for their new hotdog which consists of horsemeat, chewing gum, broken glass and the ebola virus all smeared in marmite. Oh it’s called the Dennis Bergkamp dog. Ill have 5 please.”
You catch my drift?
Anyway back to the game. Some more stuff happened in the second half. Koscielny – a man whose stock only seems to go up nowadays – scored a fantastic header from a Santi corner. That must be the first one we’ve scored in a while. Hopefully Laurent can take some time out next week in training to teach the rest of the team how to score headers.
Unfortunately he followed Nacho off the pitch for an early bath, precipitating the start of Arsenal’s annual left back crisis. Luckily neither seems to be seriously injured and Flamini did a good job of filling in in that position. Sunderland did pull one goal back after a great strike from their diminutive Italian player with the name I can’t spell. There was also consternation in the stadium when Arsene made his 70 minute substitution and it wasn’t Lukas. We were watching the Pod’s body language and he seemed genuinely surprised not to have been hauled off. Maybe they went out for a coffee and worked things out? Let’s hope so as he could be a useful player in the run in. There was also an exciting cameo from Gnabry who is just so hot right now. Another player who has something to contribute between now and the end of the season.
Anyway that was that. A very enjoyable day out and another 3 points to keep the pressure up on our rivals who both scraped victories.
I cant really be bothered with concluding thoughts this week so here are just two:
A player I don’t think has the legs against the best teams was fantastic yesterday. Yes his passing is composed and sets the tempo but his positioning and defensive work is a joy to watch when he is on form. I still think we need to replace him at the end of the season but if it wasn’t for Oli’s two goals and assist he would have been MOTM
Being a fan
Ive seen a few online debates recently about who speaks for arsenal fans and who is entitled to be considered a genuine supporter. This mainly stems from Peter getting dog’s abuse on a daily basis and constantly being told by people that he is not a real fan because he is critical of the club and the manager. When did this become lore?
As far as I am concerned nobody, no matter how much I respect them, is beyond questioning or criticism. If you want to live in some weird footballing North Korea where you implicitly “Trust the manager” and believe this is the best of all possible worlds (check Dr Pangloss) then that’s your choice. But don’t try and force that view on others or spend your whole time screaming at people who hold a different point of view. All this is magnified by the idiocy that is twitter but its really getting to such a point where any utterance that questions Arsene or the club is pounced on by thousands of wankhammers trying to outdo themselves in their displays of uberloyalty.
On the atmosphere in the stadium the truth is that since the Ozil signing the atmosphere has been much better and people have been getting behind the team because the team have been showing commitment and desire. Support for the manager, at least in the section where I sit, is not unequivocal. I only mention it because yesterday a few started the “One Arsene Wenger” chant and I realised it had been a while since I had heard it. It didn’t really get going and faded quite quickly. This is usually a pretty good barometer for how fans, inside the stadium at least, are feeling about the manager. That’s not to say he is not loved, respected and admired by many but the idea that Arsene is universally recognised by fans as the best possible custodian for Arsenal Football Club in the way he was before is simply not true. Can he get back to that place? Absolutely. Will he? I hope so.
But for the time being absolutely support the manager and players when they are out there on the pitch but have the wherewithal and the guts to question things you don’t agree with (without resorting to Godwin’s Law ((Hattip to @queenofsuburbia)))
That’s me over and out. You can follow me on twitter @aldo_doel happy to debate