Morning – I’m back from the blogderness.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make yesterday’s game: instead, I was at a puppet show for children (don’t ask – really), but naturally the medium of text kept me suitably informed of the score, or lack of. As the game drew to a close I was thinking ‘muppets’ as I watched the puppets, but it all came good in the end. Except the puppets, which were rubbish.
Ahead of a hectic and testing December, it was crucial that we got all three points yesterday, and so it came to pass.
But let again, we left it late. The goals came in the 83rd and 85th minutes, and according to Patrick Barclay in this morning’s Telegraph, that means we have secured 13 of our 33 points in the last ten minutes of our games. They don’t know when to give up – and don’t you love that?
It’s been one of the worst international weeks for a compendium of reasons, and it feels like an age has passed since club football was on. The games after these breaks can always be dour – perhaps due to fatigue and a lack of time to prepare – but in the case of Arsenal, we also had the decimation of our midfield to contend with. No Hleb, Gilberto, Flamini, Fabregas or Diaby meant there were few options, leaving Diarra and Denilson. Not only are they untested as a partnership but neither of them had started a league game this season.
By the sound of it, shorn of our regular midfield options, we struggled a bit. Any team would miss Fabregas – he’s so good it would be impossible not to – but we do need to learn to play without him given that he is unlikely to be available for every single game this season.
Anyway, the chances came and went, but the game really fired into life with some fruity challenges mid-way through the second half. In the end, the inspiration came from our increasingly inspirational (and newly mohicaned) captain William Gallas, who is really growing into his role. He may not be the tallest of defenders, and he may be too gobby for some fans with his press ramblings, but he’s a great leader and he leads by example. Top that off with a surprising knack of scoring goals, something he showed at his former club, but has showed little of until recently at Arsenal, and you’ve got a player on top of his game.
So where does that leave us? Three points clear with a game in hand thanks to United’s loss, that’s where, and we couldn’t ask for more from our opening 13 games really. Now onto December, when our mettle will be tested yet further.
First up though it’s Seville on Tuesday. We’re through – so what kind of team will Wenger put out? Does coming top of the group matter? Is it better to rest players ahead of a tough trip to Villa?
No idea, not a lot and perhaps is the way I’m currently thinking.