Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea
In this era of on-the-whistle posts and hot-off-the-press post-match podcasts, Iâ€™ve decided to Â develop a niche around commenting fluffily about a game at least two days after it happened. It never harmed people in the olden days when theyâ€™d hear of news in far off lands weeks later, and it wonâ€™t harm people now. Maybe, just maybe, people scooped up so much simultaneously-published content after the match that it all garbled into one? And that they need a refresher now? Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m clinging onto.
Anyway, the match. Just when he needed a result, along came a re-invigorated Arsenal and a strikerless Chelsea. Perfect timing! How we needed that.
Fire the starting gun
Itâ€™s funny how the first 30 seconds or minute of a game can often tell you all you need to know about the game thatâ€™s about to unfold. When the game kicked off the week before, at West Ham, I distinctly remember an Arsenal player getting the ball within seconds and just standing there, almost motionless, not quite knowing what to do and under no pressure to do anything in any rush. Fast forward a week to the game against Chelsea and we were out of the blocks like the clappers. It set the tone for a superb first half that won us the game.
Better and brighter men than me (that doesnâ€™t really narrow it down) will know more about the psychology behind that. How can two performances be so different? Was it the opponent? Some words of admonition from Unai? Change of formation and line-up? All of the above and more? Letâ€™s just hope we donâ€™t go full circle and start so timidly on Friday night, as Iâ€™m not entirely sure that will end well.
Laca verging (on the brilliant)
Hands up in the class who likes Lacazette? While I wouldnâ€™t advocate the smattering – counted in the low seconds – of booing thatÂ appeared to accompany his substitution, it is a bit baffling, because he really is a hell of a player. Sure, he has fewer goals than Aubameyang, but his range is wider, and when he scores goals that combine silky skills with brute force, as he did on Saturday, my admiration for his overall excellence, hard work and team play goes up a notch or two.
Just be Kos
It was a fabulous performance from Koscielny, who looks like he’s edging back to his imperious best. And with him marshalling things, Sokratis looks more comfortable too. With all my fingers crossed and double-crossed, we really need to keep those two fit until the end of the season. They might not be perfect, and they’re certainly not the long-term solution – the former is in the autumn of his career, and the latter still gets a little too tight to people for my liking – but as a unit, on this performance at least, they’re the best we’ve got. Please stay fit.
Iâ€™m not one for conspiracy theories as a rule, but what with the moon landings definitely being fake, and the Earth being as flat as a pancake, Iâ€™m beginning to worry about our injuries this year. It seems incredibly bad luck to me to have two substantial knee injuries in one year, especially as both Bellerin and Holding were arguably two of our most improved players this season under Emery. Is it the way we train, or just bad luck? Add Welbz into the mix and youâ€™ve got a rum old situation thatâ€™s clearly some kind of government cover-up. But Iâ€™m not one for conspiracy theories, as I said. So good luck Bellerin and Holding. Please no more long-term injuries. Thanks.
Not the crackliest
Obviously, all atmosphere analysis now uses the Spurs game as a benchmark, because that was right up there with the best in recent times. So given it was a 5:30 kick-off (some drink tends to help pep up the noise) and a Saturday, I must say I was expecting things to be a bit more raucous than they were. Perhaps there were gnawing nerves given some of our recent performances. There also werenâ€™t the same circumstances that sparked up the derby. But still – just me or was it a bit subdued?
Right, thatâ€™s your lot in this first and probably last two-day-old match report.
Solidarity with all the part-time bloggers like me who canâ€™t quite be bothered. Power to the idle.