Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal
Well hello, season. Pleased to meet you. Iâ€™ve been away and yes thankyou, Iâ€™ve had a lovely time. Like Arsenal, Iâ€™m late to the party, but here I am at last.
Maybe thatâ€™s why I didnâ€™t buy into some of gnashing and wailing that followed the West Ham defeat. It was a complacent start to the season (nervous? Spare me!) and weâ€™ve seen that a few times before from Arsenal. In fact, it was straight from the Arsenal Handbook of Unexpected Losses. Chapter One. Case Study Two. Page 14 after a prologue from Gervinho and a dedication to Emmanuel Eboue.
But it was only one defeat, and damaging though they are, you can just as easily be undone by a string of draws.
That said, to stop the massed ranks of the broken crests from storming the ramparts, yesterdayâ€™s game at Palace took on the air of a ridiculously early six-pointer. Lose and weâ€™d have been in pole position for Fourth Placed TrophyÂ©, Collaps-o-Arsenalâ„¢ or even relegated. Or perhaps somewhere more nuanced.
Well, we staved that calamity off for another week with a hard-fought win. It was comfortable at first and wobbly at the end – which is what one goal leads tend to do to you. There was some sublime passing and crossing from Ozil, while Ramsey and Cazorla did well. Alexis gave us the zing we needed without, yet, the laser vision to get himself a goal. So overall it looked much more like the Arsenal we expected to see last weekend.
Coquelin was a touch possessed and had to be exorcised by being removed for Arteta. A bit of a concern given his importance to the team. I remain to be convinced that Arteta and Flamini are the best alternatives there and would be open to an addition, even if it meant Arsene being uncharacteristically ruthless and discarding one of the latter.
This was my first glimpse of Cech, and itâ€™s fair to say heâ€™s had a baptism of fire. A debut to forget, and could he have done more for Palaceâ€™s goal or was it just an unstoppable rasper? If it hadnâ€™t dawned on him before, it probably has by now: Arsenalâ€™s defence will never be as mean-spirited as Chelseaâ€™s (usually isâ€¦)
As for the goal we did score, it was a belter. Giroud showed the kind of technical skill that heâ€™s not given enough credit by scooping that out the air. Lovely strike.
Everything at this stage of the season seems absurdly extreme. Weâ€™ve gone from bottom of the table to eleventh, a mere three points off the top! Weâ€™re terrible! Weâ€™re brilliant!
Nobody ever used to give a fig about the league table until at least four or five games in, and thatâ€™s the way it should be, but no longer is. Iâ€™m not sure theyâ€™d even publish it in the paper until about mid-September.
We shouldnâ€™t even look at it yet. All the teams are finding their feet. Itâ€™s the middle of August.
Of more concern to me is whether weâ€™ve done enough business to keep things fresh, keep the momentum up, give ourselves the best options in all areas out and send out a statement of intent. I like this squad, but there can be no complacency.
It feels to me that thereâ€™ll be a lot of money spent elsewhere between now and September. Some silly money. Will we be partaking?