I don’t want to moan, but I’ve just been hit by the jet lag bus, so this might not be great. I actually thought I was going to the home game yesterday. Just to give you an idea.
Anyways, onto the game. It was super important to win because firstly, winning is good, secondly, we needed to craft a gap between the top 4 and the crap pack. So Liverpool stepped up first and took apart a particularly poor United side in second gear. It makes it all the more upsetting we didn’t manage to take points from United, but whatever. United are out of top 4 contention and seeing them struggle is a bit like a inappropriate fart… the hilarity never dies.
Spurs lined up with 4 changes to their side, countering tired legs from their Spursday night mauling at Benfica. Arsenal lined up with a more attacking set up, opting for the more lethargic Arteta in the holding role. Most of the burden of attack fell on Chamberlain, Rosicky and Santi. I rule out Giroud, because in big games, he tends to get eaten up by defenders and the occasion.
The game started off to a 70 second flyer, Rosicky charged the midfield, played Chambo into the box, he took a bad touch, then duffed a pass back into Tomas’ line of fire, he pulled the trigger and let off a nuclear missile into the top corner. An absolutely incredible strike and a goal that boasted more beauty than an Olivier Giroud pre match hotel room.
Spurs looked shell shocked momentarily. Chamberlain had two pretty incredible chances to put us clear, he powered past the high Spurs line, with acres of space to pick his spot, he tried to play it cute with a curling pass to Giroud. The sort of thing he’d have seen Pires do for Thierry, shame was, he was passing badly to the paceless Olivier. Chance gone. Later on, he blazed over the bar when he should have at the very least hit the target. I also seem to remember him forcing and excellent save from Lloris.
Spurs owned possession. Adebayor was threaded through a few times. He couldn’t bring down a floated pass, which had he, he’d have been in acres of pace. He also found space for a header that he dragged wide. Warning signs were there. Our midfield was being overrun, it was just lucky the runners didn’t have much class or cohesion.
The second half started off in panic mode. Chezzer dropped a cross when he was touched by a Spurs player in the box, the ref didn’t blow up, so the ball went back out and in with a high cross, Chezzer flapped and dropped the ball, the follow up was duffed by Chadli (I think) and cleared away. Let off the hook.
The second half was owned by Spurs, but they didn’t really threaten us. Adebayor tustled with Kos from a high ball, the Frenchman doing enough to put Ade off his game with his header drifting wide.
There were a couple of Arsenal chances, Vertonghen pulled down Koscielny in what looked to be a clear cut penalty. Also, a bit of superb skill from Mertesacker when he volleyed from a freekick, Lloris at his best to keep out the shot.
Final bit of fun came when Tim ‘the mentalist’ Sherwood threw a ball at Sagna really powerfully. Hilariously embarrassing. Like, similar to Alan Pardew.
Anyway, final whistle blew up, the boys all had a hilarious selfie. But here’s the thing, in all the joy, what’s the score?
Flattering to deceive:
Arsenal, once again, weren’t really at the races. It’s ok to talk about winning ugly. I mean, if I’m honest, winning ugly against Spurs makes a victory all the more sweeter, but as a Spurs fan put to me post the game…
Now, I’m not really fussed about the league. I wrote that off in my head a while back, one thing that is quite clear is we don’t have much energy in our team. Our midfield was lethargic and overrun yesterday. Chamberlain doesn’t boast the pace of Theo, but he’s outrageously powerful and he’s pretty damn quick over 100m. He’s the player of the future. We need our whole squad dripping in players like that. Currently, we’re really lacking that and it told yesterday. Up front, Giroud offered nothing. Zero mobility with zero pace to run in behind the Spurs backline.
This issue needs to be addressed in the summer because it’s been the undoing of us in the second half of the season. Take Rambo and Theo out and our team flatlines. Ozil and Cazorla need runners. That needs to be sorted out.
Points, Points, Points:
I wanted Liverpool to win yesterday and obviously, I wanted Arsenal to win. There are now 9 points between Arsenal and 5th. There are 7 points between 5th and 4th… but City have two games in hand. The most important thing for Arsenal heading into games against City, Everton and Chelsea is that we’re not looking over our shoulders. We have a lot in our favour going into those games… it’s just a shame that the performances we’ve been putting in post Christmas have been so shoddy, I don’t really have much belief in what we’re doing.
Look, he missed some absolute sitters yesterday, but rather than lambaste a kid, let’s look at the promise this boy has. It’s not his fault our game now rests on him. He has power, pace and hunger. He’s gone from a timid 17 year old to a fearsome fighter keen to impose himself on games. I love him, he lacks composure, but his directness and his new found confidence is a joy to watch. I can truly see what he’s going to bring to this side for years to come. He has a frightening amount of potential. He needs to keep grounded, work hard and all the good things will come his way.
Laurent and Per really are a superb back two. They perfectly compliment each other and it’s paying dividends when a clean sheet is enough to give us three points.
We’re in the mix heading into April. I’m over the moon about that. If you’d told me that in August, I’d have taken it. Do I beleive we can win it? Not really. But being part of it with a squad which doesn’t boast a striker and has quite a lot of holes in it really is quite incredible. It’s just a shame Arsene didn’t bust open the purse strings to drive home to the title. A Matic and a seasoned striker would have done that in my opinion. But still, let’s enjoy the rest of the season, yesterday was a massive three points… now we have to build again. No one is going to hand us the title, do the players want to be heroes? If so… it’s time to stand up and make it count!