I don’t really abide by the winning ugly notion. It’s often used to explain away consistently poor performances that are often a precursor to a dip. However, yesterday’s win over Watford was the most delicious ugly win of the season. Emery proved his mettle, he lined up with a strong side, the aggressive working mentality he’s brought to the team won the first goal, and we held out for our first away clean sheet of the season (felt like our first away win of the season if I’m honest).
Troy Deeney, a man famed for beating up students, did his teams preparation no favours when he threw out a cowardly elbow at the smallest player on our team and took a straight red card. That was a fucking bold decision for the ref to take and in a world of weak decision making, he needs to be commended and give a WH Smith voucher for good service… OR A KNIGHTHOOD.
We didn’t really take advantage of the ten men. Watford showed us that they were still in the game. It didn’t matter though, because lady luck was on our side and grit/determination paid out big.
The first goal came from Auba, he chased down a back pass aggressively and Ben Foster smashed the ball into his heel and the goal was his. You cannot knock that attitude. He has been such a good player for us. He’s clinical even when he’s not looking.
We rode our luck a little. Bernd Leno continued to prove one of the shrewdest signings of last summer. His wrists are rock solid, his reflexes are cat-like and his timing when rushing players gets better and better. He was a real lifesaver last night. It’s been well over ten years since we had a keeper worth net+ points. I love him. It’s a huge risk to buy a keeper on a downward spiral, it’s such a confidence position, but Sven M dropped a world class decision there.
I think it’s worth giving Mustafi a shout out. Always a huge risk at the back, but his aerial aggression kept us in it late. Whatever you think about the German, he’s an absolute athlete and he loves the fight.
Also… AMN, my man… that tracking late on to deny Andre Gray late on was exceptional defending. He really has grown into his position. I didn’t have faith he could be a good right back, I know the club rated him as a midfielder, but my oh my, he has excelled. We don’t need to go into the market there this summer, that’s for sure.
So two things we learned last night. Away form is in the head. We have the players, the performance was rough last night, but we delivered the three points. Now we have build from that and do it against Napoli on Thursday and then the really tough one… Wolves next Wednesday.
The second thing we learned is this team, under Emery, can deal with pressure. An Arsene Wenger side would have collapsed under the barrage of yesterday. Our boys didn’t. Everyone put in a shift, even if the performance was grim.
A good day to be an Arsenal fan… we’re in the mix, keeping up the pressure, onto the next!