Tuesday, 25 September 2012

That's a lot to spend to get a draw with little old us.

In some ways I'm glad we didn't beat Man City on Sunday. You see I spent the morning locked inside a shop called Lush with my daughter and her friends making bath bombs (no, me neither) and other smelly stuff for her birthday. Had we beaten them I would've felt obliged to lock myself in a 'lucky' girlie shop for 90 minutes prior to any fixture. It turns out Lush is not unlucky but not lucky enough for me to put my nostrils through that twice a week.

We got home smelling of roses and took our front row seats. I, strangely, wasn't nervous about this. I dislike man city like I hate the Chavs. Medium sized teams who've bought every recent success with their chuck enough money at it policy. Arsenal fan complaining about money? Thin ice. We spend but in the right way. Cazorla is the prime example. No £35 million pound panic buys & that's the way we like it.

Minutes into the game and it seemed we had the upper hand. We were on top. With plenty of disrespect to Liverpool, this lot were by far our hardest test so far and we were looking good. Yet half time arrived with that frustrated feeling washing over us. Gervinho, with the touch of a battleship, fluffed his lines when clean through and our old friend, crap defending, paid an unwelcome visit. After 45 minutes we were all over them 0-1.
Doubts crept in. 6-1 at home to a very poor side is one thing but losing to the newly bought champions away after playing so well raises concerns. Have we been found out?

Have we bollocks! The boys came out with heads up. Last season that rarely happened. We still looked like we fancied this and that, as a fan, is beyond pleasing. We forgive things if we see desire. Show us you care and we'll care about you. At the basic level, we pay a lot to see this so give us a show.

At the heart of that show is our splendid little ring master. We all know players that you immediately love. Sometimes it takes a goal or a vicious tackle before we think 'he's ok, we like him.' With Cazorla it took about 3 minutes to see we had a special one there. His touch, control and vision is exquisite.

This is what happens when you have this kind of player around. He's lifted us out of the 'he who will not be named' gloom. The team looks beautifully balanced with Santi as the pivot.

He is not alone in winning us back. Mertesacker was outstanding and the player we all knew he was. He maybe slow but when you are always in the right place that doesn't matter. The Corporal at right back and Gibbs at left look wise beyond their years while Koscielny, starting for the first time, was doing back heals and scoring cracking goals. (Nearly forgot! We scored and it was a proper goal. None of your defensive slip ups. A proper goal from a proper player that wasn't bought for billions.....etc!)

I need to go now and feel bad I don't have time to mention Captain Arteta, Poldolski, Ramsey. In fact they all played well aside from one cock up at the back and Gervinho going a bit non league on us up front. Even Pay rise looked ok when he came off the bench. Useful pace to scare worn out defenders. Walcott has effectively got his improved contract by playing far less football for the same money. Well done lad. No more bread and water.

So we look in fine fettle as we approach the week. First up is another sky blue city in the Milk Cup (I baggsy 'COC OUT' as a blog headline if we lose!) then it's on to a massive game at the weekend. Thanks to @avenell_rD for starting the hype with the picture below!

So another great show and one we were annoyed not to win. Who'd have thought it?
Up The Gunners.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iTelephone in a service station miles from where I want to be.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Six in the Sunshine.

Unbelievable! That was an easy cross to deal with. What a soft goal. Pathetic...... Wait a minute. Slagging off the defence is so last season.

My son & I set off early for our first home game of the season. A stop at the magnificent Piebury Corner and a look around the stalls started our match day. I resisted the 2 bags of sweets for a £1 despite my son claiming sweet bananas contribute to your 5 a day. Programme bought followed by a stroll around the innards of the stadium to peruse the Arsenalisation. A 10 minute chat with our friendly neighbourhood steward (Coldplay were OK apparently if you watched the show and ignored the music!) We reacquainted ourselves with the familiar faces around our seats. "Back again then" followed by "it's looking good so far isn't it?" We shared so much frustration together last season that this new found hope was refreshing. The countdown to 3pm ended. Hello Arsenal.

We started strongly and got better. Wave after wave of red attacked the yellow flimsy defence. Two own goals (tips hat to Gibbs) sandwiched a sublime Poldolski free kick and a cracking move ended by Gervinho. 4-0 at half ti...... Wait a minute. Oh lord. Almunia flashback! Let's move on quickly. It was a dreadful bit of keeping. A one off. Learn from it etc!

We took the first 20 of the 2nd half off but with a 3 goal cushion and a trip to France coming up why not? Last week I saw Cambridge City go in 4-0 at half time and they came out, went for it and won 7-0 as they play for the moment. No big trips abroad to worry them. The Arsenal rarely go for the jugular so it was pleasing to not concede during Southampton's bit and to get two more late on. Ramsey's floaty run and flick led to Gervinho 1 yard tap in while Theo, forgot briefly the poverty he lives in due to his measly contract, to finish neatly.

Our sixth came as a result of, what looked like at the time, a lovely gentle touch by Cazorla. Replays are inconclusive. It could've been the defenders lunge that trickled the ball to Theo yet the way Santi plays I'm convinced he did it & on purpose. What a player he is. I've a feeling praising our new little midfield maestro might become a habit. I hope so. The other new boy on show had a great game too. That free kick! This all contributed to a great all round team display. There seems to be a pleasing balance to this side. The arrowhead has gone and far from blunting our options it seems to have sharpened things up. Keeper aside (remember it was a one off!) the defence looks, well, like a defence that practise defending. OK it was only Southampton. They look in trouble but last year teams like that gave us headaches. That was a delightful romp in the sunshine.

The gloom of the departure of he who shall be wiped from history (we ceremonially threw his 100 goals DVD away yesterday!) has gone. I'm looking forward to the big games approaching rather than fearing them. We look good. We look confident. We look exciting. We look like The Arsenal again.

Up The Gunners.

- Posted using BlogPress from an iTelephone in a motorway services while my breakfast gets cold.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Clean Sheet Pt 3 (Now With Added GOALS!)

At just past midday on Sunday I was standing in the shoe department of John Lewis surrounded by hundreds of screaming children & similarly stressed parents purchasing school shoes as kids feet change size quicker than a Darren Dein player changes club. A trivial irritant compared to the ongoing worry of an ill parent but one that, as we all trudged to the car, meant The Arsenal must not let us down today!

Liverpool away has a special place since 1989. The venue of our greatest night and always a difficult place to get points. This one felt important after two goalless goes and Arsene's refusal to strengthen last minute. Some fans were restless. Some not sure we are strong or deep enough. The club had something to prove.

Within minutes you could see that this could be a good day. We looked organised and slick. Liverpool looked sloppy as their manager perched nervously on an advertising board. However as the minutes past, despite looking comfortable, a goal looked unlikely. Suddenly Gerrard, or "Stevie G" if you are an idiot, summed up his team with a lazy pass. We broke. Caz found Poldolski with a sublime pass & Poldi broke our duck. We rose from the sofa! Forgotten what a goal feels like? No way!

All in all, that was a good half.

The second half got better for us as Liverpool, with no options on the bench, weakened themselves by bringing on first Downing then Shelvey. Bringing on Downing is like thrusting an enthusiastic raffle winner into the team. Shelvey was equally as hopeless but found it hard to concentrate as he couldn't remember if he'd locked the caravan. Between all this Cazola opened his account in glorious fashion. He went on a mazy run, played a neat 1-2 with Poldi before making Mr Barcelona in the scouse goal look like an utter mug at his near post. Marvellous.

Cazola was magnificent. Arsene had a silly grin on his face when talking about him at the end and why not? When they talk of 'good business' Carzola is surely it. We are lucky to have him!

Someone else who deserves an Arsene smile is Diaby. Many, me included, are frustrated by the man. I've never questioned his ability just his injuries. There have been time when it seemed we should move on but that's why In Arsene We Trust. Diaby put in the most complete Man of the Match display I've seen for a while. And that is why Arsene Knows and we often don't. If Diaby can stay fit he could make a massive difference (nobody say 'like a new signing' - Don't you dare!)

If I had time I'd also mention how much the team needs Arteta and how the defence are slowly winning me around with their 3rd solid Bouldesque display. That performance gave us not only hope but things to get genuinely excited about. That's more like it.

Sunday was perfect. It was the ideal brief escape from a difficult personal time. It's trivial compared to real life but gives us so much to say and think about. When you go to the game or put on the TV it takes you to a place where the worries don't really matter. I needed a win on Sunday and my Arsenal delivered. On every level a 2-0 win at Anfield is lovely & showed us that Arsene could be right. If he is it really might be 'up for grabs' again (Alright! Maybe my turn to calm down!)

There's only so long you can sit in a motorway services typing into a phone before they call security so I'll stop now!

Up the Gunners.

- Posted using BlogPress from an overpriced service station on a telephone.