Where there’s a Wilshere, there’s a way

Arsenal 4-1 Norwich

I don’t wish to get all meta about things, but do you ever wonder why you like football? The comfort of routine, the camaraderie, the sense of belonging, the escapism, the commitment and the competition? Well, yes, it’s all of those things.

But sometimes the pleasure you take in football can be summed up in one pint-sized package of play, lasting perhaps no more than ten seconds. It doesn’t have to be a moment of real consequence, such as the one that ended with Thomas squirming in the turf in 1989 or Adams barrelling through to score from a Bould assist in 1998. It can just as easily be a split second of pure skill and nerve, like Bergkamp spinning on a sixpence to score at Newcastle in 2002.

We all remember those moments, the ones that take your breath away and make strange parts of you tingle whenever you think of them. Because they are so out of the ordinary, so rare in the grand scheme of things, they give you a warm fug that’s sometimes hard to explain and – I suspect you know where I’m going with this – I got it when I saw Wilshere’s goal yesterday. And when I thought of it just now. And when I think about it tomorrow, it’ll happen then too.

It was just so preposterously good. To pull a move like that off, one between that many players, requires confidence, skill, but above all luck – those touches are so deft, the smallest error or the most infinite of hesitations would have brought the move to a crashing halt. Everything worked, from everyone. Gibbs, Cazorla, a flurry of outrageous touches between Giroud and Wilshere then a one-touch finish. That’s football, for me. That’s why I love it. It was worth the £35 on its own.

Other moments of great skill yesterday will justly feel left out of my paean. Ramsey’s this-way-and-that jink and finish, his cutback for the fourth, Giroud’s laser-guided cross onto the Ozil bonce for the second – all magnificent. Just not quite as magnificent as that first.

Soak it all up, because this is good stuff. The irony has not been lost on me that in a season where Arsenal have made the best start in ages, and are playing their best football in ages, my own attendance is showing relegation form. I’ve been away, or otherwise engaged, for four of the six home games this season – very much a case of #eastlowerout.

I intend to start putting this lamentable form right, beginning on Tuesday against Dortmund.

In the meantime, I might just watch those goals again.

And again.

And again.

The year of the Ram

Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal

Every now and then I do that thing where I wonder what some of our home-grown players would fetch on the open market. Jack Wilshere, of course, form and injury notwithstanding, would command a pretty fee – a most handsome fee. But what about Aaron Ramsey? In just this last year his form has gone bananas, taking him from a squad player to a first choice teamsheeter. From being a victim of grumbles, he has emerged into the sunny uplands of the best form of his career. “What he has achieved is fantastic”, said Wenger. Damn right it is. We all saw that injury. My own leg goes wobbly even now, just thinking about it, so imagine how hard it has been for him to recover from that, both physically and mentally. To force yourself into a team, and then to make it stick.

This is what Wenger means, I suspect, about building your team rather than buying it ready-made. When you get someone who so utterly turns his fortunes around, it’s hard not to have a massive grin on your face. It says it all that on Ozil’s debut, it was all about Ramsey. His first goal was volleyed so hard the keeper couldn’t even drop a foot to block it. And his second was coolly slotted home after some ping-ping passing of the highest order.

Ozil, what about him? Top class despite having spent the day on the can (if it’s ok with you I’d rather not analyse this too much). Setting up Giroud’s goal and feeding Walcott the tastiest morsels. And that was just his debut. We’ve all read a lot about him, watched all the presentation videos, seen the fallout of his departure, so it was just a joy to get that first game done.

And so to Theo, a classic confidence player whose form is not quite that of his Welsh midfield mucker. Wide players – wingers, call them what you will – are the kinds of players who can drift in and out of games, due in part to their geographical location. Walcott was not peripheral yesterday, it’s just that he missed the chances he was presented with. I suspect he can’t wait for that first goal to come. Easy to forget though that he was our top scorer last season. It’ll come. As for his chances, the first one was the best. The header was a header, and he’s no Smudger Smith.

We got a bit of luck, for sure, and we seem to have developed an addiction to conceding penalties, which is not so amusing. But these are iron-outable things, I think. Maybe at the tail end of last season we veered too far into solid defensive territory at the expense of rip-snorting football, and this year we’ve veered too far the other way (these are eye-opening technical observations, I’m sure you’ll concur), and we need to get the balance right. Or maybe we just need Per back.

And Giroud? He says he’s ok. “He is the player at the moment that would be very difficult for us [to replace]” said Wenger. I am tempted to drop a sarcastic comment at this stage, maybe adding a throw-away soundbite about Bendtner, but given we find ourselves in a happy place, and in some good form, I might just button the old lip.

Onwards to France. Vive le genou de Giroud.

Arsenal smash record for midfield mesutro

Howzat!

In a summer that was meant to be a sea change, we almost didn’t even get the bloody doors open, let alone blow them off. In the end though, Arsenal’s whole transfer record went up in smoke with the signing of Mesut Özil for a staggering £42.5m.

That’s Mesut Ozil, formerly of Real Madrid, mainstay of Germany, a truly world-class talent, and let’s go a bit overboard about this because a) it’s the biggest statement since Bergkamp – with a nod to Sol Campbell – and b) it finally proves that we can now operate in football’s rarefied upper atmosphere.

It’s our biggest transfer by about £27.5m, Britain’s second biggest and – I read somewhere, correct me if I am wrong – the biggest fee a German footballer has ever gone for.

Hello transfer market – Arsenal are back.

Above all we have bought a true talent, a man who can unlock defences, provide killer passes, but also score goals, and his purchase gives our midfield some serious options. Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ramsey, Flamini, Ozil, Walcott, Rosicky. Exciting.

But his signing represents other things too. Ambition – other teams and players may take note. Breathing time for Wenger, who’s going to ride this crest for a while. And a superstar on the books, which will have untold effects on our fabled ability to make money. Fans get giddy at this – I know I have, hell, I am even considering buying a shirt for the first time since 2006 – and the merchandise will fly off the shelves.

It means that our 60,012 attendances may actually get close to being 60,012. He’s a massive draw.

And it gives our players a boost – Wilshere is “absolutely buzzing“, Podolski is giving it the digital thumbs-up. It’s a shot in the arm for them, too.

This is what Real fans thought of his impending departure.

I can’t wait to see him play.

Also incoming is Almunia doppelganger Emiliano Viviano, whose misfortune it was to sign on the same day as Ozil, and who is very much a backup for Szczesny and Fabianski.

We needed a striker, but left it too late. That’s a big regret for me, and will probably need to be addressed in January. Fingers crossed for Giroud’s fitness (we’ve been here before, relying on one striker’s fitness…)

But overall, it’s all about the Ozil.

I’m excited. Can you tell?