Sunderland 0-1 Arsenal
Backs-to-the-wall, fighting spirit, riding our luck, throwing our bodies at everything, defiance &c. (And Iâ€™ll skate over â€˜missing a hatful in the first halfâ€™).
Yes, thereâ€™s something deeply satisfying about a one-nil away win in these kinds of circumstances, where at the end of the game the shirt colour can be described as â€˜off-brownâ€™ and Szczesnyâ€™s back has huge bruises on from being patted so hard and so often by his teammates.
The big Pole â€“ who has been a bit skittish of late â€“ pulled off a couple of blinding point-blankers. Such are the fine lines between success and failure that had he not done so weâ€™d this morning have been wailing and caterwauling (Cattermoling?) about more dropped points.
A couple of observations:
The Corporal deserved to be sent off, with two badly-timed lunges, and while it could have been costly I find it hard to be too critical. Iâ€™m not sure heâ€™s started in the league since that confidence-sapper at home to Swansea (when to be fair he did make a majestic howler). And yesterday he was drafted in at the last minute, which means he probably wasnâ€™t mentally ready. It just goes to show what a run of games, or a single mistake, can do to your season. Earlier in the autumn he filled in admirably for Sagna, with no complaints. Now he looks rusty. He needs to cut out the wild stuff but heâ€™ll be fine.
The former contract rebel needs to sharpen his arrows a bit, sure, as does Giroud, but overall Theo really is growing into his shoes (abysmal â€“ Ed) and is having a tremendous season. Top scorer with 18 goals, his confidence is right up and heâ€™s a really important cog in the machine just now. Again, autumn seems a long way off – when Wenger wasnâ€™t playing him and a lot of the fans were in two minds about his worth. I donâ€™t doubt there are still plenty who think he engineered a salary above his value, but at 23 he is now maturing lickety-split and can you imagine how sour weâ€™d have felt had he walked away in the summer for free, on this kind of form, to either Chelsea or City or United? Sour as the blazes, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™d have felt.
Ram Zamzi* is having a good run of form but for the love of god will someone let him have a goal (and I make this entreaty to the opposition as well as to our players). He had a great opportunity yesterday but was just a bit too close to the keeper. I donâ€™t subscribe to ramseyisnotgoodenough.rss which is why I somewhat desperately want him to get his first league goal of the season.
*Aaron Ramsey to a three-year-old
Super Jack is always going to get rough-housed, Iâ€™m afraid. Heâ€™s a little terrier and puts himself forward for all encounters. The opposition will go for your best player â€“ itâ€™s a fact. Iâ€™d like the refs to bear this in mind, but that wonâ€™t stop him getting involved. Heâ€™s an incredible little player â€“ already our player of the season. Itâ€™s a shoe-in.
Iâ€™m going to stick my neck out and say that I donâ€™t think it will be a case of Bacary Sayonara. I know we are hearing worrying murmurs about his future but it feels to me like the opening salvo in contract negotiations. You know, leak a bit about how you might leave, and let Arsenal take up the slack. Certainly, weâ€™d be insane to let the Bac go. Jenkinson has the ability to take over eventually, but heâ€™s just turned 21 and only has 16 Arsenal starts under his belt. Heâ€™s a rookie, albeit one with Arsenal wallpaper, an Arsenal duvet and a Gunners lampshade. Another year or so learning the ropes will do him no harm.
A week off now â€“ I reckon some of those legs need it.