W.B.A. 1-2 Arsenal
A few days from it all does wonders for your soul – and it transpires that Arsenal haven’t done so badly in my absence either, with an I’m-away record of P2 W2 F6 A2. Perhaps I should leave the metropolis more often.
In fact, we’ve now won five out of six league games, a very decent and needed run of form ruined only by a time-honoured Defence-o-Wobble up at our friendly neighbours.
If Gervinho was the homme du moment – as they say in France, mark my words – last weekend, yesterday’s laurels go to our under-the-radar Pilsen-powered Tomas Rosicky. Did I foresee our Ivorian slotting one and creating two last weekend? Not in a month of Sundays. Could I envisage Rosicky dictating things both behind the goal and in front of it yesterday? Again, that’s a no.
But it’s fantastic to see unexpected players – the great unscorables – getting on the scoresheet at a time when it is needed most. It’s the Ljungberg factor – who can step up to the plate when the heat is on, a little bit unexpectedly, and go on a little run of goals.
Lovely goals too, yesterday – a bullet header and a rasper that needed a second, controlled rasper to be sure of things. Rosicky, amazingly, has made only two league starts this season (and scored twice). It’s a big old waste for a talent like his, though you can of course extend that sense of regret to pretty much his whole Arsenal career, not just this season. He pioneered the now well-known Arsenal trait of being out for a few weeks, only for it to be eighteen months.
But you need a few things to drop into place, and in the absence of Wilshere and Diaby, he has proved he is up for it, and up to it.
Naturally, this wouldn’t be Arsenal if we didn’t make things hard for ourselves – and we did again yesterday. It could have been a draw in the end – though we missed a few other chances ourselves too (no second touch needed, Aaron, and judging by your bouncing frustration when that ball drifted wide, you know it too). Mertesacker can have no real complaints about his red, but where there is pain for one player there is gain for another, and Vermaelen will need to see Per’s absence as his chance to get some form back. That’s how it should be really, and I hope there’s some work done on the training ground this week to sharpen up the now-smaller, but also more mobile, central defence.
But three points it was, and how we need them all at the moment. For the first time since what feels like an age, we’re sitting in the top four – albeit briefly.
It’s one-game-at-a-time territory, and it’s going to be nerve-wracking. Twitter might melt. I might go even greyer. But where there was despair a month or so ago, there’s definitely something to chew on now.
Onto Norwich on Saturday. More of the same, chaps, more of the same. Though less of the red card stuff, eh, Per?