What a wonderful weekend of weather we had in England, particularly yesterday, which is the real positives I took from my first Sunday of May. It made the lethargic performance of our Arsenal team all the more palatable, I must say, as it truly does now look like the players are wanting to get this season wrapped up so they can all see the end of it.
Thankfully, they are at least achieving the results to limp us over the line to finish third, which I guess is something. A draw away to City at the start of the season would have seemed like a decent result, but as Mangala’s complete lack of marking for Giroud’s goal showed, this is a City side that can be even less arsed than we can right now. I didn’t watch their post-game walk around the pitch, but I’d imagine there were a few City players staring at their shoes rather than look some of their fans in the eyes.
The game itself started in a bizarre fashion, certainly from an Arsenal perspective, anyway. As is true to the current bemusement of fans, Arsène opted to replace Özil with Welbeck and shift Iwobi in to the number ten role, with Welbeck and Alexis flanking Giroud. I kind of get that, but it must have Joel Campbell wondering what kind of ‘special relationship’ Giroud has with the manager, because I have no idea why the Frenchman continues to be picked given his form.
Even when Welbeck went down injured after about 25 minutes, he was replaced by a clearly not-match-fit Wilshere, who moved in to the number ten role and pushed Iwobi out wide. You’d have thought this kind of decision making would be enough to see Campbell look for pastures new in the summer. If I was in his shoes I certainly would.
The first ten minutes though, had all the hallmarks of an Arsenal team that literally couldn’t give ‘two sh*ts’ about the remaining football to be played this season. We sat back, we allowed City to press us as we panicked on the ball, then we conceded a goal that really Cech should have probably saved. He’s been an immense ‘keeper for us this season, but he looked like he’d had a decent night out on Manchester’s vibrant streets the night before, because he looked ropey all afternoon. He clattered in to Koscielny on one ball over the top and he’ll probably also be disappointed about his concession for the second goal, scored by De Bruyne, who planted the ball low and in to the corner of the net. I thought he could have got down quicker, but hey, his wasn’t the worst performance in an Arsenal shirt.
That honour was bestowed upon Ramsey yesterday, who I thought was particularly terrible, showing that he simply doesn’t work in our current set up. I’m reluctant to say ‘style’ because I don’t think we have one. It’s a hotch-potch of styles smashed together in order to – I can only assume – create some form of organised chaos in our ranks that bamboozle the opposition. Unfortunately the only ones left bamboozled are our players.
And yet, for all of our poor ball retention, for all of our inability to demonstrate any particular style or brand of football, we still managed to conjure up two good goals. Giroud didn’t have to do much to shake Mangala off from the corner straight after Aquero’s goal, but he still had to get enough purchase on the header to steer it past Hart, so we have to give credit to a guy who has looked like he might be swallowed up by his own melancholy at times over the last few weeks.
Giroud is an enigma of a man though. He then preceded to spend the rest of the game never really able to hold up the ball or retain possession for any length of time, yet was instrumental in the second goal, which was wonderfully worked. Alexis profited from his deft flick, but that was the kind of build up, movement and composure from all players involved, that you expect to see of Arsène Wenger’s teams. Sadly there has just not been enough of it this season.
The game petered out after the second equaliser and apart from a Bony crossbar rattling shot, it didn’t really look like City knew that only victory secured a Champions League spot, because there wasn’t exactly an onslaught on our goal. In fact, had Giroud looked up at the right time with seconds to go, he might have found Walcott through on goal in the closing seconds of the match. That would have brought us level on points with the spuds knowing that bettering their result next weekend would see us inexplicably finishing above them in the league. That would be one hilarious way to finish the season, but personally I don’t see it happening, because Newcastle are pretty terrible. But at least we’ll get to go in to the final game of the season with something vaguely interesting that could happen. And if that does happen, if we somehow rack up more points than that lot, I wonder what the narrative will be? I say this because yesterday I heard John Cross say that he thought that Tottenham have had a better season and that perhaps it wouldn’t be a fair reflection. But he’s the same sort of guy – journalist – who would be the first to say that you get what you deserve after 38 games. And as far as I’m concerned, even if they finish second and we’re two points behind them, this idea that there’s a ‘power shift’ in North London, needs to be taken with a hefty dose of Saxa.
Righto, that’s the lot from me, so enjoy you’re Monday.