The Southampton game was a bit of a nervy one, but you sensed after their spanking at the weekend this might be a tough game for them. Morgan Schneiderlin wasn’t playing and he really is one of their dominant players. Our line up was pretty strong all considering. Martinez continued to deputise. Giroud sat on the bench. Our front three was Chambo, WELBZ and Sanchez. An exciting front three.
We controlled possession for large parts but didn’t really convert it into anything too interesting. WELBZ broke the back line early doors, he had quite a tough angle to get on a ball that came in from the left, he inexplicably tried to tuck a left footed shot inside Forster’s post. It went horribly wrong. It really wasn’t a good decision. Our best chance of the first half fell to Chambo, his instinctive shot was too close to the keeper who dropped swiftly to keep his side on zero conceded.
Flamini put Martinez under pressure down the other end with a horror show of a back pass, but the young Argentine did well to bail his team mate out of a hole.
The second half was a bit more interesting. Mainly because of some bad behaviour from the fans. Alex and myself discussed this at length last night, but the simple fact is, your experience on the TV is totally different to the one you get in the ground. It’s easier to switch off with TV and it’s easier not to get caught up in pack mentality when you’re, you know, not sitting with a pack. I have to be honest, at the moment, I don’t enjoy going to watch Arsenal play at the ground. Everyone is fed up. Everyone is bored of Arsene Wenger. Everyone spends most of the game moaning. This is across the board, all generations. Wenger really has dampened everyone’s appetite. When you lump out a load of cash and you’re served false hope… every single year, it gets to you. This season, people aren’t buying it, because they know.
Sad times when you’d prefer to be watching it on TV.
Now, that doesn’t excuse some of the behaviour from last night, but it gives you context. Now, in general, fans were in pretty good voice last night. But the song I don’t like, because it’s a bit like the… ‘why are we waiting, we are suffocating’… song you used to sing to irritate your parents as a kid… is… ‘We’re the North Bank, we’re the North Bank, the North Bank of Highbury’… then the West Bank sing and it goes on. It’s basically the fans singing at each other. The reason I don’t like it is because it’s the fans driving through the boredom by singing at each other. When that song comes on, it’s almost like a kick out at the action that’s going on pitch side.
But hey, we were singing.
Then the big one came, Chambo, who was having an unproductive, yet try hard game was subbed for Giroud. The decision was roundly booed. Now, I didn’t boo because it’s not my thing. I couldn’t really pinpoint why he was booed. Maybe it’s because Wenger only subs his favourites on before 70 minutes. Maybe it’s because Wenger seems to have it in for Chambo, who despite being unproductive, was causing problems with his pace. Maybe because it was so predictable? Maybe it was because WELBZ was playing so badly, he actually played a through ball to no one, yet he stayed on?
Whatever it was… the reaction wasn’t overly helpful. And let me tell you, the booing was SO loud.
Anyway, turns out the decision was a fine one. Giroud was the difference. He came on and immediately impacted the game with his beautiful looks and deft passing. Having two strikers on the pitch that are huge frightens defenders. Giroud had a rasping half volley saved. Sanchez played Giroud through the middle, his lay off was fired at the top corner but Forster clawed it out. WELBZ had a looping header tipped wide and the Giroud follow up was blocked.
Then Podolski was brought on for his customary 1o minutes. His arrival was CHEERED like a goal had been scored. More insight into how the fans are thinking and maybe a clue that we see the unfairness. Nothing for me seemed more unfair than watching Tomas staring on like a lost puppy who’d taken a shit in his banker owners Church’s. What does that man have to do to land some time?
It was weird, I kind of felt a weird sense of entitlement for very little. Like, we deserved the win despite not really doing too much.
Well, that entitlement paid off in the end when Aaron Ramsey, who was garbage again, crafted some space in the box, cut the ball back where Sanchez was on hand to drill him the winner!
Paradise. So much paradise I went for a post match beer at El Comandante, who still have the finest selection of bar staff in the land.
Giroud is going to be a major figure for us in the run in. The main problem we had with him last year is that he was drilled into the ground because we had no one else to rotate him in (bar Nik B, but that’s a different story). This season, we have WELBZ. Based on the last few performances, it’s clear who is number one and it’s not WELBZ. Giroud looked fresh, ambitious and very fit last night. Good to see him influence a game to that degree.
Rambo really doesn’t look comfortable on the pitch. His passing and control have regressed two years and he looks very low. I didn’t notice him for the first 30 minutes. Compare that to last when he’d totally dominate proceedings… sad what an injury can do to you. Sad that we could have done more to prevent that injury. Is what it is…
WELBZ is starting to show why he’s not at elite level and why he’s lucky Arsenal took him on. At first glance, you can see why any club would want him, fast, aggressive, imposing with good technique. The reality is that he’s a long way off world class. His finishing really isn’t very clinical despite him getting all the chances in the game. He needs to learn some composure. It’s a shame Thierry can’t come back as a striking coach. Teddy Sheringham is having a tremendous impact at high flying West Ham. Danny needs some coaching like that, not sure he’s going to get that from Wenger. He needs to improve and sharpish. At the top, you need to be a one chance one goal type of player… he’s nowhere near that at the moment. Still, Adebayor was poor in his first season…
Martinez had a superb game. Not because he was a great shot stopper, no, because he commanded his box the way our number one should. There’s nothing harder in the game than coming for a looping ball into your box. Martinez did that at least 5 times yesterday. He owned everything. His distribution was a little bit enthusiastic, but I can let that go because he assured the defence yesterday. He basically showed everyone what I’ve been saying for ages… our number one isn’t progressing and he’s not that good.
… and hey, Martinez isn’t the level we need either. That said, it’s unfair to chastise too hard, both don’t have a very good keeping coach. They have a yes man who should be called Teflon Tony when you look at the car crash 8 years of keepers we’ve had.
The crowd were badly behaved yesterday. I understand, because I’m there and I feel it. This is just a reaction to years of being fed hope with no delivery. The fans are fed up. That doesn’t excuse booing subs though. It’s not productive. We need to lock our feelings in until after the game. However, the club need to take note. The worm has turned. Wenger is not a favourite anymore. People recognise that he’s clinging on because no one at the club has the balls to say anything. That’s not even speculation, that straight from the Sir Chips mouth.
No clubs mercy should ever be at the behest of a failing manager.
The points were taken. They were a very good three points. We’re moving up the table, we’re now in 6th, hovering perfectly around 4th place ready to pounce on the main goal… qualification for a trophy that we’ll never win. Magic.
Right, see you tomorrow!