Morning all and welcome to 2019. As always the start of the new year brings with it hope and promise for a special year ahead and as Arsenal fans we’d probably look at 2018 as one we’d like to put behind us too.
Let’s be honest, 2018 wasn’t an amazing one for us. We saw the decline of a once great manager result in a an exit, we finished way off the pace in the league and even towards the end of the year we saw some slightly concerning results like the 5-1 drubbing at Anfield last week.
But now we look at to 2019 and already it has at least started with a positive result in the shape of a 4-1 victory over Fulham at the Emirates yesterday.
It was a strange game actually because like the game at Craven Cottage we racked up plenty of goals, conceded a silly one that made us worry for a bit, but ultimately went on to win the game which looked comfortable.
Except it wasn’t really that comfortable at all. In fact it really was quite a bit of a slog at times. The first half was particularly poor and akin to much of what we’ve seen in first halves all season. Unai had a bit of shuffling from the Liverpool hammering and started with three recognised centre halves in the first time since god knows when, whilst Ainsley Maitland-Niles let his place at left wing back. Torreira was dropped for Guendouzi and Laca returned to the starting line up and in that first half it all felt a little disjointed. We controlled the first 15 minutes or so with possession and Aubameyang could have even put us up in the first couple of minutes, but his skied effort didn’t hit the target and after about 15 minutes I thought Fulham grew in to the game, probably should have even been ahead when Sessegnon raced through. But as has been the case for teams lower down the table this season, he couldn’t capitalise and we got away with it.
We got away with that whole half I thought, actually, because we even scored against the run of play as nobody picked up Xhaka sauntering in to the box to hammer home inside six yards and going in to the halftime beverages it was nice to know that feeing of being ahead at halftime. Take that “if the league was based on the first 45 minutes” brigade.
The second half inevitably saw a better Arsenal performance but more than anything it saw more goals and some smart team goals too. Kolasinac was brilliant going forward again and when he squared it to Lacazette inside the box the Frenchman was never going to miss from about eight yards out. There’s plenty made of his substitutions and whilst Unai was reminded of the jeers that ripples around some sections of the crowd yesterday, I think it’s worth reminding us all of what a till this time of the season takes and with that in mind, we need to be mindful that we only have two first team out-and-out centre forwards. So I don’t have too much of a problem with him doing that.
And ultimately Lacazette was replaced by a guy who also scored in Aaron Ramsey and so you can’t really have too many complaints when that happens. Ramsey’s role may have been limited this season when it became clear the club had removed the deal that was on the table, but it’s hard not to see that when he does play he makes an impact, so I’m just pleased that we’re getting a bit of end product from him despite the fact his contract is running down. At a time in which we seem to be heavily reliant on goals from Lacazette and Aubameyang it is important to note that Rambo is still chipping in.
And so is Auba who once again kept his good form up with that slightly fortuitous deflected finish to add a little gloss to the overall performance. He was much better yesterday in his all round play I thought and it felt like he was more involved too.
So we move on. We haven’t really gained much ground and there’s no way Chelski don’t beat Southampton tonight, but at least we’ve managed to get a little bit of that bitter taste of the Anfield defeat washed away with a win on home soil.
Catch you all tomorrow.