Earlier this season we played out two, pretty turgid, draws against Stoke and Sunderland and it seemed to herald in the start of the Steve Bould and Arsene Wenger partnership, with defensive stability coming to the fore. What was missed amongst all of the hype and glee was that we were simply playing two teams who were distinctly unambitious in their approach to the game and, really, poor finishing cost us four points out of six.
Fast forward a few months, and some hilariously disappointing defending along the way, and we arrive at a point in time where we have acquired two clean sheets against Stoke and Sunderland. Whilst Stoke were put in their place yet again at the Emirates, and the sooner they realise we hate them not because they’re our equal but because they’re the footballing equivalent of having to use one-ply toilet paper in Delhi the better, they were typically unambitious in attack.
Yet yesterday, with the unfortunate departure of Wilshere and the foolish departure of a somewhat rusty Corporal Jenkinson, we were under the cosh from a limited but determined Sunderland side who threw everything and Titus Bramble at the Arsenal goal. And to no avail, as we held out for three points and what a beautiful three points they were. Those three points feel better than a cold beer on a scorching summer’s day.
Those three points feel better than the feeling you get when run up all the stairs at Covent Garden tube station because yes, you are too impatient to wait for a lift and share it with 100 stinking little tourists.
Those three points felt better than that feeling you get when you ask a packed out pub just where David Bentley is now plying his trade and, genuinely, no one actually knows anymore.
Our back four from the departure of young Carl read like this: Ramsey, Mertersacker, Sagna and Monreal. What’s more astounding in its absurdity is that the two players playing out of position were the ones who stepped up incredibly to help out the team in their half hour of need. Sagna especially showing just why it would be such a shame to let him go at the end of next season. Whether or not he’s willing to buy into the policy of not offering those over 30 contracts that last longer than a year remains to be seen, but surely his quiet and unassuming leadership is something that we should not throw away so quickly.
A word, though, on our attack. Wasteful as they were, Cazorla and Giroud in the final stages displaying just why they say ‘Tired Legs = Tired Minds’, a performance displaying not only our customary control in possession but the increased potent-ness of our attack bodes well for the future. Santi Cazorla especially looked like the signing we all came to know and love in the beginning of the season, and the understanding he seems to be building with Jack Wilshere is encouraging going forward into the mid-season.
Those two, coupled with the defensive and mental unity we showed yesterday may just be the metaphorical seat belt and air bags during the mid-season Car Crash.
I love Arsenal,
and I love you too.------------
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