Six Of The Best

Ajax 1-2 Arsenal

Ah, sorry for that. Work and other mundane things (well, just work – but that is a mundane thing) are increasingly conspiring against me.

Not enough, however, for me not to watch last night’s game, and apart from having to cope with a sour-looking Mr T. Shering-ham in the studio hot-seat, I enjoyed the game immensely.

Fortunately for us, Pires recovered sufficiently from a dead leg and the dreaded prospect of having a rookie up front receded. Freddie, as ever, put his all into his new advanced role, scored a classic Freddie goal and proved that experience counts. As others have pointed out, at 28 he is a Champions League veteran, and in a side boasting six starters under 25 years old, that kind of experience is much needed.

Fabregas and Flamini worked extremely hard and are coming on game by game, and I was particularly impressed with Hleb again. Top marks – and a book token or two – go to Sol Campbell, however, who appears to be hungry like the wolf. He was magnificent.

OK, so it was a bit hairy at times, but although teetering on the edge of my seat, I never at any point fell off it, and that’s all down to our solid defence. Kolo T, perhaps slightly concussed, did at one point look as if someone had put itching powder in his jock, but other than that, we were extremely good at the back. It’s drummed into us from birth that the basis of a solid team is a solid defence, so it’s a pleasure to see that, when the rest of the team is not firing on all its doo-dahs, our defence is at least performing.

And of course, we’ve got six points in our group already. This, I need not tell you, is a rare thing indeed. Often we require four points from our last match – and Uranus needs to be in the ascendancy amongst other things – before scraping through, so these are great tidings all round. Wouldn’t it be nice to breeze through it? Wouldn’t it?

Reyes was a bit clever with the penalty, for sure, but as someone pointed out somewhere, it’s not his job to get out the way of the advancing keeper. Perhaps the keeper should have thought about that one.

So things are never as bad as some would have them, and in three weeks time we’ll have Lehmann, van Persie and (with any luck) Gilberto back. Who knows, the captain and talisman himself may even have recovered by then.

Now that would be nice.


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