Apologies if today’s blog seems a little light on the detail, but I must confess that due to circumstances beyond my control – The Management’s celebration of her birth – I regrettably wasn’t able to watch the match, so had to rely on various football websites and the occasional scroll of my Twitter feed to find out the score. The lack of visual information for ones brain to take in, as opposed to actually watching the game itself either on TV or in the ground, is a terrifying thing for me to testify to.
Frantically scrolling through your timeline to find out that six minutes had been added to injury time also contributed to my increased heartbeat towards the end of the evening. The people I follow on my timeline don’t exactly help either, as the occasional fact-based Tweet is punctuated by ‘oh f*ck’ or ‘p*ss off’ with no other explanation.
So if you’ve come to get some analysis on last lights game, I’m afraid you’re at the wrong inn, patron. Although I suspect you probably knew that already. What I can do, however, is tell you some thoughts and feelings now that the points are in the bag. Firstly, it sounded like this was a classic clichéd ‘game of two halves’, with us getting a nice cushion after controlling the play and looking comfortable after the first 45, to then fall victim to the old ‘little bit too comfortable’ mentality in the second. I imagine it was as if the team had spent all morning working hard to prepare a Sunday Roast, only for them to have said roast and just settle down to an afternoon of sleep, rather than finishing the job and cleaning the dishes. And the longer you leave the dishes, the worse it gets. That’s probably the best analogy I can muster on a packed South West Trains (who suck as a company, by the way) journey this morning, because come the second half we sounded quite sleepy and content to see the game out rather than finish off Aston Villa in the second.
Jack continues his improvement in regaining his pre-injury form and bagged himself what seemed to be a well worked goal, whilst it was good to hear that Giroud better another away strike. He’s a confidence player and that, along with his header against Newcastle during the festive break, will have done him the power of good. He’s had his mini enforced break and now hopefully we’ll see the benefits with a return to his early season form.
Do you know what I also got from last nights win? More belief. This victory was forged from reenforced tungsten. It was the epitome of what is most commonly described in football as ‘grit and determination’ as the team clung on for dear life at the end. But here’s the thing; the very fact they were able to cling on and see out the victory has wonderful implications for us all. It shows yet again us that we can grind out wins away from home and under pressure. It sends a message to the other teams at the top of the division: we’re not going quietly into that dark night. Plus, with every passing week another gooner changes his or her stance on us winning the league. I’m still teetering on the edge of unwavering confidence, but when I see results like last night, there’s a little bit more of me that believes. I’ve said all along that I see this period now as a crucial one and the first of four important hurdles has been leapt by the team. Fulham, Southampton and Crystal Palace are the next three. Win all of those and we’re top of the league with 13 games to go. Yes, they’re 13 tough ones but we have the minerals to do it, I’m starting to believe.
Some sour notes on last night, which included yet more injuries, sustained to Monreal and Rosicky. I haven’t seen the incidents, but have seen a still of Rosicky’s nose, which I’m assuming will have to have a Home Alone 2 style crack back into shape today. Monreal’s sounded more worrying, with rumours of a broken metatarsal doing the rounds after the game. If true, it’s an awful shame for a player who had managed to start the last few games, looked good and was showing that he’s ready to fight Gibbs for his starting position. It will also be a shame for his international hopes, because if it is a broken foot, then you’re looking at most of the rest of the season out and not much time to play enough games to a) get back into match fitness, and b) play enough games for your international manager to consider you for selection.
It’s also yet more bad luck for us on the injury front. When you look at where we are in the league, you can’t not be impressed with the testicular fortitude of this team, because we’ve been carrying walking wounded all season. I don’t know the exact figures, but I’d wager we’ve had double the number of injuries that both Chelski and Moneychester City have had all season, yet they’re the ones with the blank chequebook that can replace players! I’m not looking at the ‘we’re so unlucky’ element of it, yet more the misnomer that is that Arsenal don’t have the strength in depth as a side, because you and I know that’s baloney. Although I must confess I don’t actually know what baloney is exactly. I think it’s some kind of meat of sausage, but anyway, I digress. What we all know is that in almost all positions, we do have strength in depth, but where we are week the whole world knows about it i.e. another striker. When you look almost everywhere else on the pitch, we have options.
The upside of playing on Monday night is that we’re one day closer to more Arsenal at the weekend. Thankfully, the players have time to rest, re-set certain facial features and have plenty of rest time for the weekend. When we take on hurdle number two and hopefully, gracefully glide over it with consummate ease.
See you tomorrow, but before I go, here’s a wee plug for this weeks SG Pod, in which Steve and Ben talk to FootieWriter about Arsenal, transfers and all in between.