Okay, so here’s the thing: I’m gonna level with ya. The first part of today’s blog is written in a slightly inebriated haze and post-match big game glow. It’s delivered to you because I think we saw a mature Arsenal team that has delivered a statement to the rest of the league that guess what, mother ‘effers? We are genuine title contenders. And ain’t no people’s gonna deny it.
I’m a happy boy. I’m a happy boy and it’s not just for the three points, which were Sherie Bobbins-style fantabulous, by the way. Oh no, I’m happy because this Arsenal team said – through their performance – “what? You want to see what we can do? You want us to show you? Well kids, why don’t you take a long…hard…look…because guess what? We ain’t going nowhere”.
Like I said: today’s blog is half alcohol-infused, so you’ll have to pardon the over-the-top reaction to what was, essentially, just three points.
Except it wasn’t ‘just’ three points, was it? It wasn’t ‘just’ another game. It was a statement. It was a collective of players who came together to announce to the worldwide media that they were here to be counted.
I’ll level with you. I’d have taken a draw, pre-game, because I wasn’t sure what a defeat would do to the confidence of this team, such was the nerves. But as the first half unfolded before my very eyes, I must admit that I was extremely, joyously, surprised by the performance of the Arsenal players. Perhaps I should have been a little more confident in the team, as much as Tom, who confidently proclaimed (after a few jars of the amber nectar) that the game was ‘done’ at half time. But I fretted that we would be ‘Arsenaled’ by a – let’s face it – pretty poor City team on the night. Yes, they made life uncomfortable for the closing stages of the game, but even their goal felt like it had a tinge of fortune to it. I’m not convinced that Toure’s finish was entirely on purpose.
The Arsenal goals however, were crafted perfectly and each one had an element of beauty, that would have had even the most grumpy of Gooners purring.
Walcott – pretty much anonymous at times in parts of the first half, stepped inside and curled a fantastically ‘Alexian’ finish beyond Hart, whilst Giroud’s ‘slot’ under the ‘keeper was controlled and synonymous with a world class centre forward. On a big stage, with cameras everywhere, as well as an opposite number widely recognised as the best in the business, guess what? Olivier stuck his finger in the air and said “a-hem. I ain’t half bad, you know?”
Yes Oliver, we know, but unfortunately it will only be until we win the league that people will realise your impact, but they will eventually.
Let’s also ‘doff’ the cap to Özil. He does assists like my wife does lip-rubbing. As an aside, she rubs her lip: a lot. Like, every five minutes. So that just shows you how much the German nails a perfect pass. In fact, as I type, I bet he’s chatting to people post-game, wondering if he could slot somebody in between the salad cart. That’s the level of awesome we’re talking here, people.
It’s the morning after the night before and whilst I am nowhere near as fuelled by the beer as I was, I’m still pretty buoyant, I have to say.
Defensively I thought we were as sound as we’ve been for a while. Yes, we conceded, but I’m still to be convinced that Toure meant his finish. It looked like a mis-hit from where I was standing.
Thereafter it was always going to be a bit nervy, because we are The Arsenal and it’s how we roll, but the team has shown a steely nerve to it this season and the ability to hold that lead is vital. Imagine if we’d have conceded and drawn 2-2? Both the online and print world would have been awash with stories about how Arsenal bottled it again. Reasons as to why they simply cannot win the league because they don’t have that ‘winning mentality’. Well, that their has been knocked into touch for the immediate future, because the team were great.
I love that we can be good without the ball now, too, which isn’t something we’ve been able to say about Arsène Wenger teams in the past. For large parts of the first half City dominated possession, but we kept our shape and discipline, minimising the open space for the creative players to operate in. There was that one DeBruyne moment, but that is pretty much all I can remember from the City dominance in the first 30 minutes.
If we can be that disciplined without the ball against a top quality team, why can’t we go on and win the league? It ‘feels’ at the moment as if we’re on the verge of taking this league by the scruff of the neck. All we need to do now is pick up another nine points over Christmas and I think we’ll be top and starting to pull away. There’s plenty more football to play, but the signs are good.
Enjoy your Tuesday.