Already it’s been a good weekend to be a Gooner–and probably an even better week. Now, I just need to consider the result I want tomorrow night.
What do you say, Messy? Top of the table or do you still have some love for your manager from Madrid?
Me, I’m just a newbie and I’ve only been supporting Arsenal since the “dark days” of the stadium move when my family and I landed some free housing for a few months at my screen-name. Chelsea were hateful back then and, truth be told, the Arsenal I saw were not in the same league even if we were in the League Cup Final later that season against them.
Remember this one? Not in anger but also maybe not the worst kick ever made by Abou Diaby
So, what’s a Gooner to do on a Monday night (actually noon here in California)? Do I want Roman and the Moo-man to get a boost, jumping from 15th up to 13th at the expense of the Foxy One, he of the Roman haircut?
It’s a different league now and arguably a better one. Television money trickling down through the league means even the lesser clubs can take a modest punt on some decent players who’ve failed at the burning-money-to-keep-warm clubs, you know, the ones built on the ill-gotten gains of gas and oiler garchs. Or they can bring in some interesting players from other spots. Bottom Line, as Spurs and ManU will attest, after this weekend–and Man City might also with a late escape vs Swansea and a drubbing a week ago at Stoke–there are no more easy games in the PL.
As such, ‘taking care of business,’ boring as that might be, is sometimes enough to shut the traps of your most hardened critics–until the next disappointment, of course. Just two weeks ago it was tough times in our part of North London–and (ano)the(r) end of the line for Arsene Wenger. Losing the entire rear of your midfield–Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla–not to mention the spice of your attack, the Pepper from Chile, Alexis Sanchez, was bad enough. Add in the woeful decision to Not. Buy. ANY. Outfield. Players. in the transfer window… Well, it was the end of days in Gooner-ville. If Twitter didn’t literally blow up it was at least cause enough for many a Gooner to throw in the towel on our season. Another long slog to try and get 4th place just so we can get back into the Champions League, a tournament we were already out of this season…
Not.So.Fast, said our guys–and perhaps that group of slightly more supportive supporters or optimistic types who always see a little light even at the end of the darkest tunnels.
We really didn’t do anything special–just beat a couple of relegation fighting teams in the league and a Greek outfit who we made look much (much) better than they should have when they visited our place. On the other hand, we did it without suffering any more injuries. They call it a hat-trick because you’re supposed to throw your hat onto the pitch to honour the man who scores the goals. Better than a towel, I say…
It was a good week for Olivier Giroud. He may not be everybody’s favorite striker, but, unlike some, at least his sex scandals only involve pictures of himself. 😯 Three matches played, six goals scored. Five were for Arsenal, the other was the lone goal any of our opponents notched.
As such, it was also a good week for Petr Cech and the defenders in front of him. This core group of guys (Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Monreal) did their business well enough. Sunderland had some decent chances but Olympiakos and Villa were mostly limited to pot-shots from distance and difficult angles. It only seems right that Cech now holds the record for Premier League clean sheets, even if many of them came during his time with Chelsea.
Ah Chelsea… The team that we were hoping to challenge for the title this season. Cortois is quality and they should do better now that he’s back in the frame. De Gea is too… just don’t tell those guys from Bournemouth…
It was also a fine week for the rest of our starters. Joel Campbell seems a player both combative and calm and not so bad at choosing when to exhibit the appropriate mood. One key goal, one key assist is a very good week for el Tico (the Costa Rican) when most never thought he’d get near the first team. Additionally, Theo Walcott looks like a month off with a bad calf has made him a tougher fellow. He set up our 3rd goal as a sub vs Sunderland and body checked Alan Hutton into a foolish American football tackle and penalty earlier today at Aston Villa. Playing alongside Giroud may not be his favored role but his return made us happy–or at least not unsad–that Alexis was (finally) getting his winter break.
You don’t have to look far, however, to find a man returning to a preferred position and relishing it. Aaron Ramsey is a different sort than little Santi Cazorla. What he lacks in close control he makes up for in running–all day and, often enough, in the right place at the right time. Getting in behind back lines is a specialty but so too is tracking back and nipping in for a key tackle. Two assists and two goals is a better return than most and his goal today at Villa featured him at the start and the finish of the move.
Ramsey’s output for the week exceeded Mesut Ozil’s. The guy accused of “nicking a living” lost his assist streak vs Sunderland and only got one each in the two road matches. “The jury is still out on him,” according to David Moyes.
Funny enough, I was recently in San Sebastian, Spain where I asked these fellows what they thought about Moyes. The jury–admittedly of only two–was unaminous about the former Real Sociedad manager although the guy on the right said it’s hard to judge the former Everton coach given that he really didn’t see ‘enough’ of Moyes–and never on the beach.
Didn’t he manage at a Manchester Club for a bit, he also inquired… 😀
If that’s only the opinion of two amigos buenos on the beach, we should probably offer a salute to un bon ami–Ozil and Ramsey’s midfield mate on the peetch–Mathieu Flamini. His run into the box at Olympiakos–found by Joel Campbell and just barely deflected onto the crossbar–turned that match in our favor.
Bon Ami is also a brand of cleanser here in the States. We hadn’t kept a clean sheet without Coquelin in the line-up (cheers to Admir for the stat). Now, with Flamini in for Le Coq, we’ve kept two. Well done to the group but Flamini est un bon ami, indeed!
None of this, of course, is to say we’ve turned any sort of corner. Like I said, it was just a good week of taking care of business, staying well focused, getting results and getting players back out of the physio-room and onto the pitch. Perhaps we only hit rock-bottom and just got that little bounce we needed. In my opinion, you’ve got to enjoy them when they come.
Now we get a week off to prepare for a big one vs Manchester City next Monday night. Even that one, as definitive as many will probably suggest it might be, will still be just another football match.
First, however, are the Foxes vs the defending champs. Who are you gonna support? I don’t believe I can support the London club, I fear, though I’d love to see us top of the table.
What about a draw?