And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we love this thing called football. January finished on a high as we finally managed to put in a shift of 45 minutes. Look what happens when urgency and desire take over.
To be fair the half time score didn't really reflect our play. It was all too easy for the boo boys to vocalise their displeasure as we stared down the barrel again. 5 minutes before the first Villa goal I swapped texts with the man from Eastlower and we both categorically confirmed to each other that this game had 0-0 written all over it. We were blunt in attack while Villa were crap. Yes! We can read a game and will be presenting ITV's coverage of the next round. "Well Eastlower, if nobody scores it will be a draw." "Indeed it will Feverpitch and I can see a replay happening too." ESPN wanted us but we are a little too highbrow.
Moments after plumping for a draw Richard Dunne (talking of plump) rose like an overweight whale to head home after we had defended a corner like Arsenal. Nobody wanted it apart from Dunne and that was symptomatic of our first half and indeed most of January (and beyond...) We continued to look busy but achieved nothing. It was during one of these pointless excursions into the Villa box that we conceded again. They broke like we used to. Bent surged into the box, played a one two off Flappyhandski's flappy hand and slotted home from the acutist of angles. That was a well taken goal by any standards. I maybe being a bit harsh on Flappy. It was a decent first save but he really needs to put it out of danger or it will come straight back at you. It did. 0-2. Poor old Flaps. He doesn't really install much confidence does he? At one point @lovelymrs tweeted "Flappyhandski is a bit Flappyfootski too today!" Balls in the air or on the floor are a challenge. Sharp intakes of breath when the ball's in our area. Sighs of relief when he holds it. Our confidence in our number two is lower than Jordan's husband's taste in women.
The highlight of the first half for us was Arsene taking 3 minutes to do his zip up. He was struggling yet not one chant of "you don't know what you're doing!" He's zipped up 50,000 things in the past and this one would not beat him. He later failed to explain his actions and why should he?
Half time arrived and it was doom with an added dollop of gloom as we contemplated another season of no shiny things. The boos suggested Arsene was to blame. Well if he was then he must be applauded for what went on at half time. Whatever he did proves to me he is still very much the man. The team were about as useful as an ink pen on 'arry's desk in the first half. The manager and the senior players stepped up and the youngsters responded too.
Suddenly we had captains everywhere. The pitch was soaked in desire and a somewhat complacent Villa, who probably thought they had nearly done enough, couldn't live with us. Two definite penalties and a lucky Theo goal later and we were incredibly winning. Special mentions must go to Ramsey & Kos for their surging runs into the box. Theo may have been lucky but his dribble to the goal was magnificent. He assisted himself for that goal. Lastly, RVP, who drew level with the Lord Dennis on 120 goals for the club, took two superb penalties.
It was one of those lovely Arsenal afternoons that left you with a warm hopeful glow. Thierry prowling the touch line pointing and barking out instructions like a future manager might (you never know!) added to the fun. We needed that win like 'arry needs a big file in his next birthday cake. At half time it seemed like this awful run would never end. It seemed like we really were crap. One decent half in a month doesn't make the problems go away but my goodness it gives us something to build on. We had desire. We had fight. We even had some luck and with the medical room slowly emptying we can look forward with less fear.
On Sunday we saw the worst and the best of our club in the space of 90 minutes. The good finally defeated the crap.
Onwards to Bolton. Up the Gunners.