Well that was another very important win and a fantastic performance, given this was our fourth game in just twelve days.
We qualified for the semis of the FA cup against the Mancs, got six points from the Hammers and Magpies, and almost did the impossible against Monaco: four wins, nine goals scored and just two conceded. Arsenal are red hot right now. Are the fans ecstatic, full of pride and proud of the team, though…? We Gunners are a peculiar lot; let’s leave it with that.
The performance against Monaco was one of the most mature I have ever seen of Arsenal. We controlled the game throughout and all Gunners, including the subs, played with a concentration that made me proud. We needed a bit of luck to complete a miraculous turnaround and that was the only thing missing.
Today, against the Barcodes, the team started once again with a mixture of passion and professionalism; and our ability to score again and again has just been amazing over the last few months. I expected the team to tire at some point, so a good start was vital and the team knew that. Giroud was once again pivotal for us, literally and figuratively. His all-round CF game has become so good: he reads the game in a flash and his strength to hold of players, combined with his excellent first touch and passing ability are simply invaluable. People will rate Giroud now for his goals, and nine in nine games is indeed fantastic, but there is so much more to his game that deserves undiluted admiration.
Sanchez and Santi looked knackered; Ramsey was a bit fitter but did not have the best of games; Danny was the fittest of the four but did not impress me in the one to ones, positioning in the box and with his finishing. But they all worked their socks off and stuck to the team plan and that made all the difference. Koz and Gabriel worked well together and you can see that they could become a very strong partnership going forward.
Chambers is clearly still a work in progress but he has added a lot of value to the team given his young age. Monreal was mostly solid, with just one or two wobbles, and really seems to have found his groove at the Grove now. Ospina did not have much to do, but he stayed calm and made the right decisions, and that is all we can ask for.
The man of the match was Le Coq, even though Giroud played very, very good too. Coquelin read the game and positioned himself so well and his interventions were all firm but fair; and his fitness levels never seem to fade either. He made a huge difference today and let’s hope the two weeks of rest will help to heal his well-battered nose again. What a player he has become!
Yes we rode our luck a bit in the second half and had to dig deep to go home with all three points. But let’s not take away anything from the resilience and team spirit our boys possess: absolutely priceless attributes, especially at the business end of the season.
So, count me a very pleased and proud Gooner. To be just four points behind the Chavs, even though they have two games in hand, is just great given where we were a few months ago. Ooh to, Ooh to be…..