Mesut Özil, man, Mesut Özil. I had a hard time sleeping last night after the news broke that Arsenal had agreed a deal with Real Madrid for the German international. And not just a deal, a club record £40m+ deal. A deal which, at a stroke, would obliterate the image of an Arsenal Football Club obsessed with freebie Frenchmen- although one of those didn’t exactly do badly yesterday, huh?
The deal, as I type, has yet to be confirmed by Arsenal, but credible sources on Twitter, and some journalists, are talking about a done deal. This, I think you’ll agree, is pretty exciting stuff. We got a hint that something was afoot with Arsène’s post match interview yesterday evening, the smile on his face a marked contrast to Tuesday night’s much more defensive posture. It would have been tempting to put that smile down to a a terrific derby day win for the boys, but the words “good surprise” got everyone’s attention. I, for one, am relieved I shelved the blog that I had written on Friday afternoon- although the image of Arsène clad in unzipped sleeping bag coat, minus trousers is one I’m disappointed not to have been able to bring you. But I’ll live.
Anyway. Yesterday was, I think, a good day to be a Gooner. We went into THE London derby having eased the pain of opening day defeat with a couple of good performances against Fenerbahce and Fulham. Some time after the midweek fixture, taking all the hype around Spurs new signings out of the equation, I looked at our first team and thought, you know what? They’re good enough to beat whatever Spurs can throw at us. Arsène may wind people by saying it, but it is a fact that we’ve now only lost one Premier League game out of our last 13 (including 10 wins). You have to be a good team to put a run like that together
And so it proved. I think it’s reasonable to expect that there is more to come from a Spurs team bedding in new signings, you never know, they might actually score from open play soon. But yesterday, they weren’t really a match for a team that was committed and… just, well better than them. Most of the Spurs fans I’ve read, or listened to, seem unwilling to acknowledge it, but for all their possession, they only really asked questions of Szczesny twice- and he was more than happy to provide the answers. I guess it shouldn’t be much of a surprise when you listen to their manager complain about how they dominated the game, about how we finished with 4 full backs on the pitch. He saw all that, you see, yet he didn’t the fact that the game could, and arguably should, have been up by half time.
And this from a team missing Sagna, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski and who lost Wilshere after 40 minutes. Cazorla was the first to go close for us. In the opening minutes, we saw the benefit of letting someone who isn’t Theo take free kicks as Cazorla produced a flying save from Lloris, before cheekily going under the wall but just wide with his next attempt just mintes later.
Spurs had a lot of the ball thereafter, but a flowing move through the middle of the pitch did for Spurs. The ball went through Cazorla to Rosicky who fed Walcott in wide, Walcott’s cross to the near post was flicked in by the onrushing Olivier Giroud. It was a goal reminiscent of one some bloke who used to play for us scored against Spurs once, I can’t seem to remember the fella’s name though.
Goal secured, I never felt we were in too much trouble afterwards. Walcott might have added to the score twice, but a smart reaction save from Lloris and one of the best goalkeeper tackles ever denied him. Ramsey fired over under a little bit of pressure when a goal seemed likely. Jack Wilshere had been replaced by Mathieu Flamini by then and I was pleased to see him back in the red and white. Watching him flying into tackles, alongside the industrious Ramsey, I found myself thinking that Mikel Arteta’s status as a first team regular must be under considerable threat going forward. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, but I look at this Arsenal team and how they are growing by the week and wonder how he gets back in. That being said, I did once say the same about that guy whose name I’ve forgotten in relation to Marouane Chamakh’s blistering start to the season all those years ago. I also think someone like Arteta would definitely have relieved some of the pressure we found ourselves under as the game drew to its, frantic, close. So, to be clear, I’m not writing Mikel off just yet.
The best Spurs could muster in the second half, for all their so called domination, was a late shot from substitute Defoe that Szczesny did well to not only parry, but turn away from the danger area too. At the other end, making use of Walcott’s pace on the counter, a deflection stopped an almost certain goal for Giroud, Lloris made another quality save from Walcott, with Monreal denied a tap in from the rebound by a last ditch tackle. I’m biased, we all know that, but if anyone was going to add to the one goal scored yesterday afternoon, it was us. Perhaps if Spurs had spent less time trying to con the referee…
Not that it felt like that in those tortuous final moments as Spurs attempted to bombard our goal. It was a real all hands to the pump situation, but one thing this Arsenal team can’t be faulted for is effort and commitment. That effort and commitment got its just reward when the referee blew the final whistle. Olivier Giroud was, rightly, singled out for Alan Smith’s man of the match award. But I thought Ramsey and Flamini were great, behind them Koscielny & Mertesacker performed a pretty good visual representation of the word “impassable” and I would pay money to watch Santi Cazorla train.
And then… we got Arsène’s smiley face and, belated, confirmation that Spurs had agreed to sell Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. Clearly an announcement those in charge at the Lane were hoping to soften with derby day victory, it wasn’t to be. All in all, a good day to be a Gooner.
115 total views, 1 views today