Sir Chez knighted at the Palace

Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal

Two points clear at the top of the league going into November – nice, isn’t it? This time last year, and the year before that, we were seventh after ten games so to be top after nine this time round really has blown the cobwebs off. We’re also seven points better off at this stage than we were last year – another thing to write home about. (“Dear Mum, I feel compelled to write to you about Arsenal’s seven point upswing. Hope you’re well, much love, Jim.”)

I say this of course because we’ve all known for some time that November brings sterner autumnal tests gusting in from the north and west. The last thing we needed ahead of that kind of storm front was to get our chimney knocked off by gentler breezes in the south.

As it happens, managerless Palace were far from a breeze and it took a performance of some determination from us to take the points. It wasn’t pretty and we weren’t at our best, which is why the man of the match award went not to one of our midfield creators but to Wojciech ‘The Woj’ Szczesny for a superb double save just at the point where, at 1-0 up, we were wobbling.

He was excellent – as were, in the second half in particular, Sagna and Ramsey. Perhaps I ought to add Giroud to that list, who ran himself into the ground. He looked utterly destroyed at the end of the game, which is both heartening and faintly terrifying in equal measures.

As for Arteta, it was perhaps foolish to get that close to Chamakh but a red for that? He was on the right-hand side of the pitch and 45 yards from goal. Defenders were not a million miles away. Very harsh.

In midweek we have a date with Chelsea in the Rumbelows, and it’s very hard to know what approach to take in that, especially with Liverpool looming on the weekend. In the absence of our legion of crocks (Walcott’s three weeks out has turned into another infamously un-three-week absence), some of our players need a breather. Ozil looks like he does, Giroud too, Wilshere is not 100%, Flamini and Arteta are both out. Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain are still nowhere to be seen.

This might be the least coveted pot of the four, but the importance of maintaining form and confidence – the easiest things to lose and the hardest to regain – should not be underestimated. Wenger has some tough decisions to make on that front. Can we throw Frimpong into the mix? Is he even fit? How about Monreal at left-back and Gibbs on the left of midfield? Why am I not a football manager?*

*Rhetorical question

On midweek, Wenger said:

I will rotate against Chelsea, yes, but play with a team as well who has a good chance to qualify, that will be the target.

So basically, your guess is as good as mine.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. PDDD

    Was the closeness on Saturday down to Palace’s determination or Arsenal’s return to the smug, entitled, ‘just turn up & we’ll win’ Arsenal of the past few seasons ? My guess is the latter. Hopefully lesson learned without any damage done on the points front.
    Huge few weeks ahead. We need at least one win from Liverpool & Utd games. (or maybe two draws wouldn’t be a disaster)
    One or no points total from the two games = title challenge is non-existent. The table may not say so (we’ll only be a few points off the top after all) but realistically it will all be over. Flamini’s injury could not be worse timed.
    Sagna was a monster on Saturday. Seriously hope that everything is being done to get a new contract agreed. Would be madness if he walked away on a free next summer.

  2. Jeff

    Avoiding mention of the league cup is probably a good call.

  3. East Lower

    The what? Did I miss something?

  4. Jeff

    I noticed something was different with Ramsey in the game last season when Arsene took off Sagna and had Ramsey finish the match at right back, and being a huge fan of Sagna, I still thought it seemed like a reasonable move. I think we were bringing on another attacker, and Arsene wanted to find a way to keep Ramsey out there. I thought he and Ozil looked really good against Dortmund – like Freddie Ljungberg good.

    I can definitely see both sides of the question on Arteta, and I think he presented both sides last night. I thought he was a liability and needed to be taken off before he got a red card.

    I keep reading that the Arsenal performance wasn’t that great. What about the performance starting with the build-up to the first goal on??? That part was fantastic. And Arteta was great during that part. (As was Ozil, who really is dreamy in top form).

    I love Santi, too, but he doesn’t have his rhythm right now.

    And the Ox. I’d love to see the Ox back in the team.

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