Nothing focuses Arsenal quite like the battle for the #TopFourTrophy.
It’s a real oddity, because look, it’s a pressurised situation. We’re battling three very good clubs with equal resources and better coaches, and we’re attacking the problem like soldiers storming the beaches in WWII.
Arsenal put on a classy show yesterday, if you can’t take joy in that game, you might as well give up. It had it all, some superb goals, another great Petr Cech performance, a young defender emerging as a bit of a star, some sweet revenge for Rambo with an assist, and even comeuppance for Arnautovic when Holding shoved him over and busted his arm.
Wenger pulled off a selection masterclass, I mean, come on… don’t pretend you didn’t look at Coquelin and Giroud in the lineup and cry some boredom tears! Both players contributed positively in the first half.
Our first goal came on 41 minutes, Xhaka found Coquelin in space 40 yards out, the Frenchman played a perfectly weighted pass into the run of Bellerin on the right. The Spaniard showed unusual composure, firing a low cross at Giroud on the 6-yard line, with the finish executed with tap-in perfection. Imagine all those elements coming together at once? Amusing reading around how many people thought the Xhaka pass was something out of the Zizou hall of fame. Calm down people, let’s not start creating mythical legend out of 10-yard passes. The hero there was Coquelin who probably had to be treated for a nosebleed after that.
Our second goal came in the second half and was a thing of 2004 like beauty. Ozil played a delayed one-two with Sanchez. He exploded into the box, Sanchez picking him out with a standing pass that beat 6 Stoke players (plus the keeper), Ozil finished deftly with one touch. An incredible goal.
Peter Crouch, the 47 years old giant from an 80s comic strip, did cause us some bother when he nipped in at the near post and pushed in a cross with his hand. If that were Pires or Thierry, we’d hear calls for the hardest Brexit of all time so we could hang them. Because it was Crouchy, it was just kind of amusing. Yet another reason for video analysis. Those sorts of decision can derail a #TopFourTrophy challenge and cost clubs in excess of £40m. Unreal that people think there’s anything pure in unjust decisions.
Arsenal looked flustered for a moment or two, we conceded 350 corners in the space of 12 minutes, but we didn’t cave. Sanchez’s thigh did, the gay icon wincing at the camera whilst showing some serious leg to the world. Any normal manager would have taken his star man off immediately with a cup final looming, not Wenger, he left him on… and miraculously, the top 4 gods shined on him again. Bellerin played Sanchez a ball inside, expecting a return pass, the Chilean had different ideas, he powered on at the goal from the right, then picked out the bottom corner with a low daisy-cutter.
Some say his celebration indicated he’s staying on. I’d say that’s a long shot. The man has created 30 goals / assists this season. He’s going somewhere to win things this summer. Cheslea, PSG, and Bayern all interested.
Anyway, he rolled off for Aaron Ramsey, who was booed on for having the audacity to have his leg broken once upon a time. The Welshman nearly scored immediately, cutting some sweet movement across the edge of the area, but not doing well enough with his shot. He did manage an assist, setting up Giroud for an easy finish at the death.
4-1 to Arsenal. We’re not a point behind Liverpool who play West Ham. I have a feeling they’re more than capable of a choke there, so don’t be surprised if we’re sitting in the top 4 come the end of the season. We’ve absolutely destroyed the last few games, which I was sure would end in tears.
Interesting looking at the United game now, because it’s quite clear that Mourinho is gambling on the Europa League final… and making sure that if he doesn’t make it, he’s not stuck in Spursday night hell next season.
Also interesting to see all the player tweets and Instagrams now, it’s like they’re fully onboard the top 4 tophy train. I find it all a bit embarrassing to be honest. I was watching Ferguson on an NBC doco earlier, he was saying that the only thing that mattered was the league. How I wish we had a manager into that. Wenger on the side celebrating the goals like he’d won the World Cup. He’s completely reframed what it is to be successful, and it works.
Even if we do fail to make the top 4, he’ll be close enough to dress it up as a success… it’ll be glorious failure, and we know that Wenger is all about that.
I will always enjoy us winning, but that sick feeling I have in the pit of my stomach thinking about what a disaster we’re going to enter into next year is really upsetting.
… but hey, it’s only football right?
On a positive note, I thought Rob Holding looked very good again. He wasn’t quite peak Cannavaro, was roasted a couple of times. However, he looks like an interesting defender, and considering our track record with young British players, he looks promising. He’s great on the ball, he’s very strong, and he damaged Arnautovic, which was exciting to watch. He’s from Bolton, you’re not going to bully him.
On Alexis and Ozil. They’re such good players. Sanchez would be much better under a manager that could coach him, and Ozil would be much better if had fire in his belly every game. I was watching the game with Alfred, he was saying prematch that if Ozil made the runs into the box Ramsey does, we’d probably love him a little more… it was a great goal, the sort he should be getting more of.
Fingers crossed the Chilean is fine for the Chelsea game.
P.S. Thanks for all the positive comments around the podcast, we’re very grateful and we shall be continuing it next season for sure. Maybe even the summer if there’s something good to talk about.
Breaking: Bergkamp’s technique is still brilliant. pic.twitter.com/G2MAXAPHge
— Priya Ramesh (@Priya8Ramesh) May 13, 2017