I watched yesterday’s game through an iPhone stream at my parents house and if I’m completely honest, had I not have watched it at all and just seen the Match of the Day highlights, I’d probably have been a lot less stressed.
But what I witnessed yesterday felt like something I haven’t seen for about ten years, or at least since 2007/8, because it was an Arsenal team that was plagued with injuries, away from home to a Swansea team in which we have a pretty poor record, with a difficult first half performance, doing what is necessary to pick up three points by grinding out a win.
But we didn’t just grind out a win. We actually pulled out one of those ‘the score flattered them’ results. I love a result like that. It helps the goal difference part of our league placements and means that you can feel all the more excited about your team the next day. And today I feel excited ladies and gents.
I’m excited because we’ve won five games on the bounce. We’re the form team in the Premier League and we’ve been doing it with injury after injury. Yes, we all got a little bit of sick in our mouths when Giroud went down and didn’t move for about two minutes. But as soon as it was clear that he was just doing a bit of a French bit of exaggeration, we could breathe a sigh of relief and get one with trying to win the game.
I’ll be honest though, I didn’t see it coming in the first half, especially as Gomis raced through at one point. But thank goodness for the rapid legs of Bellerin, because even when Cech is beaten we have somebody like that who can save us.
From an attacking perspective it also looked like it might be ‘one of those days’, because we didn’t create loads of chances, but when we did it was Giroud who missed a really good chance. Thankfully he atoned for his miss in the second half with that brilliant header from the corner. It’s nice when other teams don’t do that thing called ‘marking’ from corners, eh? We’ve been so used to seeing it over the years from our lot, that it’s nice when the boot is on the oppositions foot.
It’s also nice when an ex-player doesn’t have a blinder, but has a bit of a stinker too, so thanks must be offered to Fabianski in goal for the Arsenal second. There might have been some complaints with Koscienly backing in, but when you watch the replays you can see that the contact on the ‘keeper is minimal and although most of the time you see a foul in that position, most of the time you shouldn’t. Thankfully Kevin was our ‘Friend’ for that decision.
The third goal was provided by a young man who probably needs it more than any of the others, particularly as all Arsenal fans eyes are on him at the moment, looking for Campbell to fill in during a difficult period of the season with injuries. I thought Joel did well. He tracked back – which to be fair to him has always been something in his game which has been consistent – and worked hard all day. He had a shot which fizzed wide in the first half and in the second half his goal sealed a game that, had Swansea scored instead of us, would have meant for a nail biting ending too it. I don’t like those. I like the games that peter out with us enough goals ahead that the opposition doesn’t truly believe they can win.
This was a game in which Joel needed to step up and I think he did that. If he has designs on making that position his own whilst others are injured a la Coquelin, he probably has three matches to do it and so not the longest run in the side. Yesterday’s game was about showing up, showing he can rub shoulders with the first team players and contribute in an attacking sense. By scoring he has done that and it will be great for his confidence. During the week he will probably be called upon more for his tracking back and defensive work, but if he puts in another display against the Spuds, who knows, he may even be in contention for a spot after the international break. But he has to give us more of what he gave us yesterday.
A quick one on Alexis and Ozil. The former was pretty poor. He gave the ball away countless times and still looks knackered. It’s a shame we have two massive games coming up, because it feels like he could do with only playing one game a week for a while, but we can’t afford to have him missing against Bayern. Not with his pace and threat on the counter. However, the latter of our two megastars was once again majestic, especially in the second half. Everything is flowing through him at the moment. He retains possession with consumate ease. He glides over the surface. He is an assisting machine. He sees passes that make you think he has an earpiece on his person with a radio from somebody watching a monitor in the stands is telling him about player runs that you, by all rights, shouldn’t be able to see if you are on the pitch. He is driving the team forward and helping us to win games. He is doing what £42million gets you and even the media are now catching on. It’s brilliant.
And to top all of this off, Chelski are still imploding, possibly will do more so if Costa is banned for a clear kick on Skyrtel. West Ham lost, United drew and whilst City won, they laboured to it without Silva and Aguero. Hopefully they can labour even more over the coming months and we can capitalise.
A happy weekend of football all around. Enjoy your Sunday.