Tis a good morning to be an Arsenal fan today, eh? Yesterday’s win over City – our first in the last seventeen attempts dating back to December 2015 when Theo Walcott got his 100th goal for The Arsenal and Matthieu Flamini started along with Joel Campbell – was hardly a ‘classic that will go down as one of the greatest games of all time, but ask any Arsenal fan this morning whether they care and they will give you a resounding ‘no’.

We’ve played far too many games against Man City in which the predictability of this fixture was as inevitable as Thanos (shout out to my mate Steve for the analogy). You know what I’m talking about – where we’d start well, look impressive, then eventually concede a silly goal and from thereon in it would be a slow depressing trudge to full time and a Man City win. Or we’d take an absolute beating and lose by three goals or more. And when the team line-ups were announced an hour before kick off I was in the pub feeling generally a little down and ‘meh’ about our chances. No Saka, no Martinelli from the start, Partey still not ready to start and Jorginho coming in for his first start in the Premier League. It felt like we were cursed to never play City with our best XI but, then again, we haven’t been able to field that all season so perhaps we just need to get used to it.

So I wasn’t exactly awash with confidence and in the Same Old Arsenal post match pod last night I admitted to thinking it would be one of those annoying 2-1 home defeats. After all City had scored 17 goals in seven games, they’d conceded just five goals that season in the Premier League and they pretty much score every time they play. So in my head I was thinking that if we were to get anything from the game, we’d need to score at least three. What I hadn’t taken in to account, but perhaps I should have, was that this team is capable of defensive displays just like we saw yesterday and it is because of our back line that we got this victory yesterday. Sure, you have to do the business at the sharp end of the pitch to win football matches, but most of the flowers today have to go to our defensive display because I thought those Arsenal players were magnificent at the back. We restricted Haaland to less than slim pickings; with him apparently accumulating the sum total of 0.00 xG in the whole game. Saliba in particular was a monster in his duels with Haaland. He’s apparently picked up a toe injury that means he’s had to withdraw from the French national team, but we have to hope that it was an international break “toe injury” that can be fixed and ready for when we go away to Chelsea on 21st October. He has 12 days to rest up and hopefully overcome it.

I thought Gabriel was equally brilliant yesterday too and between him, Saliba, White and Zinchenko we restricted Man City to just four attempts on goal in the whole match. FOUR. I think I heard a stat yesterday that this is the first time in something like two or three years that City have created so few chances. But such was that commanding defensive display – also helped by another excellent performance from Declan Rice in front of our back line – that it was thoroughly deserved and you can see why we should all be praising our defenders this morning. Let’s also not forget that we’ve been shipping silly goals at home so far this season. We gifted the Scum their second goal in the NLD, we gifted Fulham a late equaliser and even Nottingham Forest caught us cold in transition. But not yesterday. Yesterday was a focus and concentrated defensive performance that will have all of those defenders delighted with a clean sheet.

I will sound one note of caution though, before getting back to the good stuff, which is that David Raya was poor I thought yesterday. Mainly in the first half, as he seemed a little more settled in the second, but he gave the ball away cheaply five times (by my count) in the first half and there was one Alvarez close down that could have deflected in that he should have dealt with better. That’s a couple of times now in which Raya has made a couple of slightly ‘iffy’ decisions since getting the number one spot and with this international break coming up, I am wondering if it would not be prudent to give Aaron Ramsdale a go in between the sticks. If Arteta is really serious about this ‘two number ones’ thing, then the international break offers a perfect bookend moment in which to make a switch and give Ramsdale some minutes.

But, this should be a minor footnote on a day in which we picked up all three points against the champions, with the points being secured by substitute Gabriel Martinelli right at the death. I love a late goal. This one came on 86 minutes and given that we only had four minutes of injury time, we didn’t even have to worry about a long wait for the final whistle to go after he scored. Yes there was an element of good fortune about the deflection, and yes it probably summed up a very even game that we just shaded on things like attempts on goal, but you have to try those types of shops (the old ‘buy a ticket to the raffle cliche) if you want to win these types of football matches. As long as they ripple the net who cares how they got there?

We saw out the game and cue to raucous rendition of ‘North London Forever’ at full time to send us all home delighted. The hoodoo has been banished in the league, we pick up another three points and go in to the international break full of confidence. You can’t really ask for more.

Well, maybe you can, which is that the officials do their job properly. Yesterday I thought Michael Oliver was largely fine, but his decision not to send Kovacic off was pretty ludicrous given some of the red cards we have already seen this season. Based on what we’ve seen so far, how is that first foul on Odegaard where he goes in on the back of him not a red card? Even VAR looked at it and decided not, which is not something they’ve done all season. But, ok, fine, you’re not going to give it, ok. We have to accept it. But then having seen that and Michael Oliver even knowing that it must have been borderline for VAR to look at it, for him not to book Kovacic for the second foul on Rice is scandalous. He’s on a yellow and he’s come in from behind and taken Rice’s ankle off. It is the easiest second yellow you are going to give. Yet as usual we don’t get the decision.

Thankfully it is just a footnote on the game and I’m sure Michael Oliver himself will be thankful that Arsenal won the game because when he looks back at that I suspect he’ll feel like he probably should have sent off Kovacic in the first half. But because we’ve won we don’t have to make this ‘the story’ of the game and I think we can all be thankful for that. We can also be thankful that the victory has come at 11v11 because there is no ‘asterisk’ next to the result because we were playing against 10 men. We won that game fairly and squarely and I thought we were thoroughly deserving of the points.

It’s a happy send off for the International break. And so we can bask in that victory for at least the remainder of this week.

Have a good one and enjoy your basking today.