There is nothing more I enjoy in this world than watching Arsenal win. The thing I like second most in the world is being able to say ‘told you so!.’
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have called and begged for Chesney to be given his chance. I have said he is ready. I have said he has the talent. I have said he knows what to do. How long have I been saying that? I’ve lost track it’s seemed that long.
Last night he was the most calm and collected goalkeeper I have seen in an Arsenal shirt since, well, probably Jens, but even that doesn’t do him justice. He has an authority about him, a presence and a size which sees him dominate his area.
He also seems to dive and look like he isn’t moving in slow-motion which has become a trait of Arsenal keepers of late.
He stays big instead of crouching down.
In short, he doesn’t do all the things we have become so frustrated with the other keepers for doing.
I can’t say more than that, but there is more than that to him. He has that special ‘something’ which all great players have. He is to goalkeeping what Cesc was at his age to midfielders – the future.
Too much? Don’t believe it for a second. What you saw last night was just a preview of a player who I truly believe will go on to be the world’s greatest. Too much for a young man? Don’t believe that either, he believes he’s ready too.
Do you know what? He’s right. As good has Fabianski has been recently, this guy is better. If he makes a mistake you can be certain that not only will it not dent his confidence, but it will inspire him to make sure he does everything possible to rectify it. See his performance after coming out for a ball and narrowly missing it.
I don’t know what it is about keepers, but out of all positions on the pitch it is the one which I seem able to judge the best. With outfield players I miss so much, but with keepers I can spot a rotten one at a hundred miles. The same with a good one. Perhaps it’s because that is the position I demanded to play myself when our school keeper was so crap. Sometimes you just know things.
I like to think I know keepers.
You might disagree. You might argue that I have backed Fabianski and never backed Almunia, but I would argue that you are starting to see why. When Al was decent that was the best he was ever going to be and that’s what I said. I have never been happy with him in an Arsenal shirt.
Keepers eh, could we finally have two good ones? Did we have them all along? Can we convince Chesney to sign on before his deal runs out? I really, really hope so.
Anyway, the match. I was cautious ahead of it but I had a feeling it would be a very entertaining affair. I didn’t see a four-goal difference and I’m glad I was wrong, and while there was a touch of fortune about goals one and two there was no doubting the quality of three and four.
The controversy for the second goal has been blown out of proportion if you ask me. I said at the time it was mighty quick thinking from Nik to block of the defender, but let’s face it, that doesn’t really sound like him does it? That makes me more inclined to think it was accidental. Either way, the ref didn’t blow and you’re taught ‘play to the whistle.’ Was Theo slightly offside? Perhaps by about a millimetre, and yes Nik was offside by three miles, but he wasn’t standing in front of the keeper swinging his boot at it like Gallas was when the Spuds played Fulham and the pundits defended that.
Therefore, quit your yapping.
Vela got a lot of stick from people last night and I couldn’t help but wonder how a returning Cesc gets leeway for below-par performances but a returning Mexican is not afforded the same luxury. At times he did look disinterested, perhaps it’s something to do with our left midfield, it saps the life from players, but as soon as he was moved more central he became alive.
He is a striker. Where he comes in our striking hierarchy is up for debate, but he needs to be in areas when he can finish, not in a position to be beating men or crossing.
Crossing. Is that something we will ever be able to do? There were 1356 crosses over-hit last night, and while it didn’t matter when we had a front line of midgets we now have two very good headers of the ball, one of whom is bound to be on the pitch. Needs work.
At the back Kos was something else. His reading of the game was exemplary and his ability to tackle is very impressive. We know this. Djourou had a stinker in the first half, being turned, out muscled and generally out-thought, but as he is wont to do pulled out a superb last-ditch tackles from nowhere. He got it together in the second half and we must remember the length of time the young Swiss has been out. Give him time, he will come good.
Gibbs. What can you say about Gibbs? Is he from the same mould as Van Persie or is he just incredibly unlucky? I’m hoping it’s the latter, luck changes. Only time will tell I guess and I feel desperately sorry for him. It looked like a twist or a strain rather than an impact but let’s hope the damage to his knee isn’t too bad. He is too good to be sitting in Ashburton Grove Medical Centre and I don’t want to have to see Eboue at left-back too much, no matter how well he did last night when he was switched to take of Gibbs and bring on Sagna.
Arsenal.com are reporting that Gibbs will be out for a ‘few week’s with a medial knee ligament injury but we know in Arsenal speak that means anything from a ‘few week’s to ‘next year’ – Vermaelen was out for ‘one game’ if you remember. In good news though it seems VP and Rambo will be joining up with training at the end of next week. Hopefully. Or so they say. Diaby, Almunia, and Vermaelen are still all out.
Up front Nik and Theo were superb. While you could argue that Nik could have had one or two more, remember his injury which has been ongoing since last season and appreciate that he has two in two. Not bad for a player most people say hasn’t a clue where that barn door is.
Theo has returned in the form that he left us in and it is simply flying. Seeing him through the middle and you wonder how far off unstoppable he is. He was man of the match on Arsenal.com (I’d have been torn between him and Chesney). Ball control, spotting a run, a long time to think, and still finding the net. You’d almost be forgiven for thinking he has a football brain.
Cesc also managed to get some minutes on his return to fitness and was integral in setting up some of our best play.
Apart from that everyone else had a relatively decent match. Rosicky was composed in the middle, if not quite as effective as Nasri would have been, he never stops. Denilson and his corn-rows did what Denilson does – be strong and steady. Sagna had a great game and even the JET, who got a handful of minutes at the end of the match made a decent impression bulldozing his way past a few Newcastle defenders and was unlucky not to be put through to show the world what we all know he can do.
It should also be mentioned that we haven’t had an away clean sheet in something like five years and now we have two in a row. And people say we can’t defend!.
So that’s us through to the quarter-finals for the eight season in a row, no mean feat when you see the average age of players we have usually fielded. Already it has started ‘so what if you win the Carling Cup, one trophy in six years, bug deal’ well let me tell you something – we know that you are all the same people who said no trophies, no trophies and that one trophy will start the avalanche so we should take the Carling Cup seriously.
We are now.
Consider yourselves warned.------------
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