In times of desperation you will accept anything positive. Let me tell you friends, yesterday’s three points most certainly fall within that category.
Effectively dumped out of two competitions within a week, it was imperative that The Arsenal didn’t effectively hammer another nail into the Champions League coffin by slipping up against what I can only describe as a young and bang average Aston Villa team. So much so that when the Aston Villa team was displayed on the scoreboard at kick off, there were two players I’ve never even heard of. Now, I’m not one that has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Premier League footballers, but I’m quite confident I could name a decent starting eleven of all of the Premier League teams. So to see some of the names on the Villa team sheet yesterday that I’ve never even know existed, it tells you quite a lot about the youthfulness and lack of squad depth in our opponents. And therefore by proxy, the expectation that we really should be tearing them a new one.
Unfortunately for a simple gooner for myself, that quite simply translates into a result that should in all fairness, be a foregone conclusion. Villa are struggling in the league and look like they could be going down. That they were within six or seven minutes of a draw at The Emirates tells you more about the limitations of our squad than it does of the ability of Lambert’s side.
It all started so well. Attacking intent from Arsenal in the first fifteen minutes was swiftly rewarded with a neat Cazorla finish. We looked like we were up for it at first and the players looked like they wanted to lay down a marker, taking out their aggression on a clearly vulnerable Villa team.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case with this Arsenal team, capitalising on the fragility of opponents is a commodity that is found in short supply at The Emirates these days. We went in 1-0 up at the break, but if we’re all honest to ourselves, we hardly laid down a confidence marker. Thankfully, Lambert’s Villa didn’t fancy seeing if this Arsenal team could be ‘got at’ and the first half ended with little trouble from the fluorescent green/yellow opponents.
The halftime pints were sunk with much debate over the reaction the team would give in the second half, and such was the joking nature of the modern day Arsenal fan, we spent most of the fifteen minute interlude thankful that we were ahead for a change.
I expected a better reaction from the players in the second half, and to be fair, at first it looked as though they were going to give it to us, with some neat build up play at times. But as is par for the course with this Arsenal side, the final end product was often found wanting, with an overriding desire to square the ball rather than ‘have a go’. So it was with no surprise that Villa equalised with their only real attack of the second half on around the 70 minute mark. As expected, it came from an Arsenal corner and as Weimann bore down on goal, we all knew what was coming. Szczseny hardly covered himself with glory with a limp wristed flap at the ball, but we all know Arsenal have it in their locker to fall apart at any moment, so it wasn’t any real surprise that we conceded.
Today’s blog has been rather negative up until this point; perhaps indicative of the nerves and worries I have of our ability to finish in the Champions League spots. But I, as I’m sure many of you need to remind ourselves of, need to appreciate the fact that three points were the requirement today and three points is exactly what the team delivered. So perhaps I need to cut them a little stack. Football has so many variables in it that it is impossible to assume that ‘a+b=c’ I.e. three points in this instance, against a team that will probably go down, means that it should be a walk in the park. So I need to remind myself that providing the team gets the results, the methodology behind it is largely irrelevant. You don’t get extra marks for showing your workings.
So today’s blog should be tinged with more happiness about it. Indeed, the happiness did come in the shape of a neat Cazorla finish with just a few minutes remaining on the clock. You have to say it was no more than the team deserved and thankfully it means we can look to the West Ham v Spuds game in the knowledge that we have at least done what is needed from our perspective. Let’s hope that Yossi can get himself on to the field and provide us with yet more happiness by spearheading a victory for the irons to mean the gap is closed to just one point ahead of next weeks crunch NLD.
Before I sign off, some positive and negative individual performances to talk of. Firstly, the negative, lets get that out of the way. I thought Diaby was generally woeful yesterday and his injury, whilst of no surprise to any of us, was the icing on a pretty horrible cake if I’m honest. I also think Giroud failed to really show his true capabilities and I hope that was just a one off game as we head into a crucial period of the season. However, some real positives were the excellent performance (yet again) of Jenkinson, and I thought Cazorla also did well, cropping up with two vital goals.
All in all, it was yet more of the same from Arsenal as they frustrated us at times, but ultimately they did the job, and we can ask no more than that.
Roll on the spuds. Lets all hope we see the best from the team then.
Finally, just a quick signing off from me. I’m heading off to Thailand for two weeks and so won’t be blogging as I try to sizzle myself in the hope of improving my skin tone. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Ben and maybe Steve (oaf12), and lets hope that by the time I’m next spilling my thoughts onto the virtual blog page, it’s to the sound of an Arsenal team having beaten our rivals and marching towards a top four finish.