What a difference an attitude adjustment makes. A team starting with practically all the same players as the one which was so atrocious at Ipswich, yet they swallowed a large dose of ‘give a f**k’ and look at the difference it made.
I can have no complaints about anyone last night. Even the much-maligned Denilson, Bendtner, and Arshavin especially worked their asses off the entire night, and even when things weren’t going for them, they still kept trying.
That’s all I’ve ever asked.
From the start to the finish we showed that we wanted this as much as Leeds, and with the better talent at our disposal, with matched attitudes, there was only going to be one winner, much to ITV’s disgust.
That they spent the entire match praising the Leeds supporters for their noise level, when all I could hear was the 3,000 Arsenal fans constantly drowning out the 35,000 home supporters, was indicative of the Leeds love-in they were having. It was an enormous performance from the away fans and it deserved to be acknowledged by those idiots at ITV.
Not so unfortunately. The way the commentators celebrated what was admittedly a very good goal from Leeds was to scream as if they haed just won the FA Cup itself. The disappointment when we nodded home our third to kill the tie was palpable.
That they were disgusted we won just makes it taste all the more sweet.
So what was the difference? Some will say it was the inclusion of Nasri as captain, others will say it was Sagna at the back, or simply that Eboue was nowhere around, but while that might be part of the story, the truth is it was in the Arsenal attitude. We fought, we hassled, and as Leeds broke and Nasri chased back 60 yards with everything he had, he summed up the spirit in the whole team.
If we play every single match like that, there is no reason why we can’t collect at least three of the four trophies we are currently going for.
I must give an honourable mention to a few players. Firstly, Arshavin, who I’ve been very hard on recenlty. I know he has the talent but that has rarely been matched by his work-rate. Not so last night. While everything he touched seemed to go in the opposite direction of where he wanted it, he never once let his head drop and could be found all over the pitch, attacking, defending, hustling and harrying. If he keeps up that work rate, his form will return, of that I’m sure. Super Andrei, really super.
At the back, the difference in Kos when he plays alongside Djourou is immense and I thought Kos had a fantastic game.
Out wide, even Bendtner put in a really good shift, and it is only fair that if I am prepared to criticise him I praise him when it is appropriate. His first touch is still not the best, but for the majority of the match he could be found on his toes rather than on his heels which is how he has spent the last few matches. Good effort Nik. Seriously.
I don’t need to give you reasons why Sami was something else last night, or the difference the introduction of Cesc and Van Persie made. Their class is evident for all to see, and with Van Persie rapidly hitting world-class form, we can start to dream of glory.
It is a good day to be an Arsenal fan.
Does that seem too much? I don’t think so. Cold January nights ‘up norf’ are supposed to be our achilles heel, but we overcame this one with ease. All because we truly wanted it. I’ve never doubted the skill and talent of our players, even the likes of Denilson, but I have questioned their attitude and I think with just cause.
But that’s two matches in a row now that we’ve put in a shift as a unit, as a team, and we’ve scored six goals and only conceded one because players seem to like to score the goal of their careers against us. Two Chesneys in our goal weren’t saving that, and while I know he will be annoyed that we failed to keep a clean sheet, sometimes you simply have to hold your hands up and say ‘unstoppable.’
But there we have it, in a nutshell, all the proof this team needed that if they want to win things they have to work for it. Signing for Arsenal does not represent the pinnacle. You have not made it when you pull on the red and white shirt.
That is when the work truly begins. Finally, I think our players have got the message and for the first time in a long time I look forward to a match thinking we might really give Wigan a pasting this weekend. I don’t fear that the old Arsenal might rear its head, of course it might, but I don’t think so.
Once that tiny little switch in your head flicks to the on position, it can be really hard to turn off. I think that finally, finally, we might have found the right switch.
Good day people. Good day.
(Apologies for the short blog today, as you might have noticed, a few of my websites have been having serious technical issues which has sort of thrown everything off kilter. Things should be working properly now, but if you see anything that isn’t, I’d appreciate it if you could give me a heads up.)
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