The form factor

Arsenal 5-0 Porto

24 hours late, this. Just like the old days, when you went abroad, burned in the sun to cinder and had to wait a day for the papers to pitch up from blighty. Cast yourself back to 1985 and it won’t feel so late.

Anyway, we were the first English club through to the European Cup quarter-finals this season, it was the first comeback from a first-leg deficit since Hajduk Split in 1978 and… was it the first goal we’d scored in the first 15 minutes of the first half all season?

I have a thirst for more firsts if they’re anything like that.

5-0 is perhaps more of a thrashing than at times it felt, especially during the first quarter of an hour of the second half when Porto woke up and a single goal would have left things finely balanced, but as soon as Nasri’s unbelievably mazy dribble and tonking tight finish made it three, it was party time at the Grove.

But there were some eye-opening performances, and if there’s ever a good time in a season for three or four players to come into form, that time is now.

The issue of form is always an interesting one, because so much depends on state of mind, confidence and so on. So while only a month ago we were lamenting the form of Clichy, Almunia, Arshavin et al, now we can talk of a quartet of players who have suddenly found theirs.

Clichy and Arshavin, incidentally, are among those who suddenly look menacingly good. We all knew Arshavin was world-class, but playing as the lone frontman seriously curtailed his effectiveness. Freed to play where he is more comfortable, he suddenly looks terrifying. Henry Winter’s line summed it up very well: Arshavin was “a box of fireworks that kept exploding in Porto’s face.”

I’m pleased for Clichy too. Coming back from injury, he was a pale shadow of the Clichy of old. But hard graft and a run of games have turned that round, and last night his workrate was exemplary.

Diaby and Nasri are the other two whose form has been building impressively. The former, to be fair, has been steadily improving for a while, but has been struck down by his usual temporary ailments all too frequently. Nevertheless, he’s looking fantastic at the moment.

Then there’s Nasri, a player whose injury – though I barely need to preface any description of an Arsenal player by mentioning the ‘I’ word, it’s a given – set him back months. It’s all clicking now though, and last night he was superb, scoring a mesmeric goal and creating space all over the pitch.

And I’ve not even mentioned Bendtner.

So form breeds confidence, which creates momentum. As a result we’re fizzing along now.

7 thoughts on “The form factor

  1. and… was it the first goal we’d scored in the first 15 minutes of the first half all season?

    —-

    First home goal yep, Cesc scored in the first 15 away against Burnley.

  2. those dopes on sky they call pundits really made me laugh last night after the game,after 4-5 minutes listening to gullit adams and souness i had to remind myself that we won 5-0,they said we looked dodgy at the back once again 5-0 popped in my head,porto had 3maybe 4 shots on target which if you watch football you will know that no matter who you play they will have attemps on goal,it was truley hilarios listening to them,i mean come on it was 5-0 we kept the clean sheet that many predicted we wouldnt,scored 5 and blew porto away,it was funny,but also sad that sky dis an english team constantly it does my head in

  3. Not to get all Myles Palmer here, but I think Andrei the Giant’s been judged a bit unfairly till now by many. He’s been playing injured for much of the campaign as I understand, though it’s not often mentioned. And playing as a 4-foot-1 striker simply because Wenger’s too cheap/stubborn to buy a proper one during a crucial run of fixtures means we rarely saw the best out of him.

    Anyway, great game, etc. Bring on Hull … hope Nasri’s ready. He was lucky to escape a sending off during the home fixture and I think he’ll be up for this one, taped leg and all.

  4. ‘I have a thirst for more firsts if they’re anything like that.’
    Please don’t! Don’t want to see first red card any time soon!

  5. I can’t wait to see Cesc celebrating on the pitch in street clothes after the Hull match. If the opposition manager is having a moan about Cesc’s attire, we’ll know we’ve had a good day.

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