Arsenal 2-0 West Ham
Back to the Emirates we went, all tumbled together, in full voice, to see whether this team could scrabble momentarily into the top four at the third time of asking.
The games go on despite the worsening Covid situation, but the memory of the West Ham game in March 2020 – the last before football was suspended – is still pretty fresh. It’s impossible to know if things will go on, or if we’re at yet another crossroads.
I was typically cautious beforehand, going for a score draw in my predictor league, but while it was hard graft we really were well worth the win. Fourth! For a bit!
I wouldn’t say Arteta’s reign has been feast and famine, because some of the wins have hardly been feasts, but our inconsistencies do lead me to go all Jekyll and Hyde on our general direction.
Last night though was one of the games where you could see exactly how we’ve improved and how we can forge a path up the table. It was high energy, epitomised by the ubiquitous Saka and a hell of a performance from Lacazette. As for Martinelli: honestly, I get tired just watching him. In this irrepressible form he must be so hard to play against.
I’m not too vexed by the Aubameyang situation, as stuff happens in football. That Arteta has the full backing of the club tells you all you need to know. But what does interest me is the way unexpected events can subtly change things in football. One door closes, another opens: sometimes it takes an injury, or a suspension, or something unplanned for someone to come in and shine, or for a team to find a different angle, so I’m watching the whole situation with curiosity more than anything else.
Certainly, the door has opened for Martinelli, where it had looked shut for a while. Who else will benefit from this public spat?
Back to the game. We were high energy, quick pressing, and forward motion, but it was hardly surprising that West Ham held us largely at bay in the opening half. They’re where they are for a reason: very solid, careful with possession and strong on the counter.
Martinelli broke the deadlock with a beautiful finish, and where was I? In the gangway walking down to my seat, behind some tall lads. I missed it. I know, I hate myself too. But it did remind me of being on the north bank of old. No matter where I positioned myself, the tallest man in north London would slide in front of me at 2.58pm and I’d spend most of the game studying his collar.
I did see the Lacazette penalty though, you’ll be glad to hear. It was a clear penalty but I bet Lacazette is persona non grata with many opposition fans. He’s an expert at squeezing the most out of every challenge (even though, as I say, this one was fair). I suspect I’d dislike him too if he played for another team.
Smith Rowe finished it off with a lovely mazy run and a finish that was nonchalantly clinical. I love a goal where the goalie can’t even be arsed to dive. In. Don’t even bother.
(Yes, I saw this goal in person.)
And that was that. It was a lot of fun and two good wins in a row buries the frustrations of Utd and Everton, as these things tend to do.
+1 GD too. Heady times.