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Strength In Depth

Arsenal-Liverpool-20.11.76-L

I honestly cannot remember being so nervous before a Liverpool game. Not for ages. They’ve been in fine goalscoring form and we struggle to keep a clean sheet these days. I blame Mike. Ever since he put Wojciech Szczęsny in his fantasy league team we seem determined to leak goals win lose or draw. He will be all smiles when I return to work tomorrow though, thanking me for  the points, which is a little insane but when you’re as unpopular at work as I am you have to take it where you can get it. The bizarre thing is of course that hidden behind the quite breathtaking talent that is Aaron Ramsey, Wojciech Szczęsny has actually been one of our very best players. The defence in front of him looks as settled as I can remember it and the midfield generally work their socks off to deny teams room in which to operate when they enter our airspace. And yet I was nervous that we would not keep them out yesterday. In my defence I kept my jitters to myself and didn’t pollute either this place or twitter with such pathetic weak kneed negativity. There was one other reason that I was concerned, not just for Mike’s fantasy league side but for our very real team as well.

Let us be perfectly honest we have been in a small dip, a minor depression, operating under a briefly passing black cloud of late and Liverpool have been in rampaging fine spirits. Our blip, as I sincerely hope it will prove to be, has been at once entirely understandable and at the same time extremely interesting. Understandable because we play in a fast hugely competitive league where players are usually only good for about four matches before they start playing in the red zone and given our injury situation we have had to wheel out the same old faces for just a few more games than has been desirable. The blip, or dip if you prefer coincided with some players returning to the side. I never expected such crucial personnel as Santi, Tomas and Mikel to simply glide back into their best pre injury form, who would predict such a thing? They didn’t of course, all players need time to find their groove, and with Mesut still adjusting to the frantic pace of the EPL and still finding the pushes and shoves shockingly under punished by lenient refereeing it was no surprise that we have struggled of late. This little period has been interesting though hasn’t it? Interesting and telling because we have somehow contrived to come through it five points clear domestically and joint top of our Champion’s League group. Oh and I ought to mention we’re shot of the pointless fixture clog of the league cup as well. Which I consider to be a result. How often in the past have we turned in below par performances, lost a couple of home games and been in such a powerful position?

Happy days to be an Arsenal fan.

Yesterday I was proved wrong. I had no real need to worry did I? I don’t need to tell you what happened of course. This isn’t the nineteen fifties where you need the written match report to tell you how the drama unfolded, but  I shall at least share the moments which stood out for me.

Per’s ludicrous level of calm insouciance as he intercepted, dummied a Liverpool forward before instigating a counter attack. It was simply gorgeous.

Wojciech Szczęsny playing a one two with one of their player inside his area with the relaxed attitude of a man who meant to do it.

Giroud’s entire performance. Yes, yes I know he fluffed his lines in front of goal a couple of times but he made more dribbles than anyone else on the pitch, was a tower of strength in our goalmouth whenever they had a corner, he bothered and pestered their defence into errors all afternoon thus relieving the pressure off those behind him and he tracked back, closed down and generally made a nuisance of himself all day long. A fantastic, skill filled, gutsy, tireless performance.

Santi’s goal. What can you say? The guy scored and got the assist. Not many players can play a thunderous one two off the opposition woodwork and then crash home an unstoppable volley.

Aaron’s goal. I laughed out loud. How else could you react?

Koscielny’s performance. All of it. Suarez must still be smelling Kos’s deodorant on himself. The young man not supposed to be Arsenal quality continues to keep our club captain out of the team and world class strikers in his back pocket.

Arteta’s tackling. No individual moment stood out but the slight of foot with which he gently relieved his opponents of the ball was just a joy to behold.

Arteta late in the game making Stevie G look so very past it.

Arteta dragging/back heeling/side flicking the ball to Gibbs next to the corner flag while under pressure.

Arteta’s hair.

Tomáš Rosický spinning, running, injecting urgency wherever he went and looking like a man ten years younger. Long may it last.

There were many other moments – I’m sure you have your favourites, but before I go I have to credit Liverpool for making a game of it, they had their chances and on another day might well have got something out of the match. However their strength is their attack and we neutered that strength for the most part by keeping the ball in their half. Can you imagine how good we will be with Podolski and Theo back in the side? It is a terrifying prospect. Oh and while I’m gazing with my red tinted spectacles into the future how about when Mesut Özil catches up to the speed of the EPL? It’s like we have this unexploded bomb ticking away in our midfield. He already has an understanding with Aaron, he just needs to adjust to the crazy pace of the English game, and, well, boom!

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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343 comments on “Strength In Depth

  1. The only team to beat Bayern in 2013, the first English club to beat Dortmund away. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we haven’t had a real test yet, eh?

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  2. Hell’s teeth

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  3. How can one calm down after that…….things must be changing….Gary Neville says we must start thinking of Arsenal as the real deal……Jamie Redknapp was so impressed….I am looking forward to hearing from some of our well known doomers now…..mind you they have been quiet lately…

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  4. Metal? We eat that for breakfast

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  5. It definitely feels like the end of an era to me.
    Go tell e’m Evil

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  6. And wouldn’t just be Tomas at the heart of an Arsenal attack, one twos through the middle, they almost lose the ball, drops to Tomas, pushes the ball, out to Ozil at the edge of the box who controls the ball, has time, he chips into the box from standing position, two players waiting, Giroo tightly marked, the ball comes in, Giroo jumps, gets just in front, ball a touch behind him, manages to nod one in and across under pressure, towards Aaron leaning in, Aaron heads to the left of the keeper, does is have enough, keeper lunges across, desperate dive, a fingertip away, and into the net the ball trundles for Aaron Ramsey’s 13th of the season, assist, a difficult one, from the head of Giroo, Mozart started it off, Ozil had a bit of time and chipped in a delicate but lethal ball. What a goal, their first real goalmouth chance of the match and a patient Arsenal, who take their chances these days, have stunned Dortmund and are ahead.

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  7. That was exceptional – at the 60 minute point we were being battered and I would have settled for a point
    Then up the field and bosh
    The home side doubled up in pain and after that the result and the three points were not in dispute for one moment

    A great game of football – not for one minute do I accept that Dortmund were ‘poor’

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  8. Now tell us again how bad we are defensively and how per is not good enough. Fucking joke

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  9. Dortmund had failed to score at home only once in their last 60 games. Won all their home games in champions league since end of 11-12 and unbeaten at home until now this season.

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  10. Are they still untested?

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  11. jurgen fllop is probably listening to his heavy metal tonight while I’ll be listening to my RACHMANINOFF and drinking congac. Oh yah. Take your silent song and put it in your pipe, then smoke it. Psycho. their goalkeeper was super lucky not to be sent off for that wipeout of KOSHER. I do hope the tough fr is ok. Heroes one and all.

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  12. Relax, you silly AKBs, we haven’t played anyone good yet. That was only last year’s CL finalists and European golden boys Dortmund. You still have to face better teams than them.

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  13. Looking at the status of the other groups, winning our group will make things much easier.

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  14. Everyone had amazing performances, but Mikel is my MOTM. If he doesn’t get a call up to Brazil, Del Bosque can go fuck himself.

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  15. It’s been five years since we last won at Old Trafford. It’s about time we do it again.

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  16. This is hilarious.

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  17. It will be known as SPANK THE RED MANC @ OLD TURDFORT.
    this game coming up was the least I worried about. bring it the f on.
    ARSENAL!!!! ARSENAL!!!!!!ARSENAL!!!!!

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  18. the same aaron ramsey that a certain traitor want wenger to sell before he can agree to sign a new contract.
    ramsey for balon d’or!

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  19. Altogether now, One Aaron Ramsey, there’s only one Aaron Ramsey..”

    The boy is frightening me. Is he actually human? You know, like, from Earth?

    And where would we be without Giroud’s selfless CF play? The two hardest workers in a phenomenally hard-working squad.

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  20. @ Gainsbourg69 November 6, 2013 at 11:00 pm
    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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  21. You know you’ve made it when the publication “This is Devon” carries a report of your exploits…

    http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/story-20041518-detail/story.html#axzz2juVU15aP

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  22. Great comment by Arsene:
    Q on the orchestra v heavy metal…
    “We were light metal. We looked more stable defensively because we have experience in midfield not to lose the ball in stupid positions”

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  23. end of an era…
    of coming second in our group.

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  24. If we’re metal we’re an eighties power ballad.

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  25. oh I completely forgot to say…
    BOOM SHAKA SHAKA BOOM…
    LOL
    GAINS that footage was hilarious. Now all together now.
    Its the END OF AN ERA people. Get with it.

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  26. George Graham enjoyed that game.
    I had a few palpitations. One or two panic attacks. Which is normal for me. No problem.

    Memories of that Away performance against Marseille under Pat Rice when Rambo stole a late late winner. This was by far the more impressive result given the opposition, their record, their form. It’s been coming.

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  27. “And where would we be without Giroud’s selfless CF play? The two hardest workers in a phenomenally hard-working squad.”

    And the funny thing is that Giroud thinks he did not have a good game tonight!

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  28. Those impressive performances against Dortmund the same season as that result against Marseille were important for that squad as they eventually made third.
    It’ll be interesting to see how this team goes from here. I don’t see them losing focus with another big game coming up. Good luck to them.

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  29. Marvellous evening I think

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  30. “Light metal” !

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  31. First time Dortmund have failed to score in a long time, allegedly more then fifty games?

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  32. They wouldn’t have won in London if it hadn’t been for the mistake which led to the first goal. Let’s not forget this lot lost at home to the same Napoli side we completely dominated. The thing is they get smoke blown up their arses and we don’t.

    I predict Rafa is going to park a 777 in front of the goal in Dortmund and against us in order to squeeze by to the second round. If Dortmund get knocked out, that leaves Real Madrid, Barça, Bayern Munich and us contending for the trophy.

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  33. @ Passenal
    Ha! I guess that attitude shows why he keeps improving. He’s a striker, he’ll never be totally happy if he doesn’t score.

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  34. anicoll5 November 6, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    fucking right! and all them who said we “stole” it …bullshit…. by far the dominant side in 2nd half and could have scored another two even…and dortmund fucking played tonight…a very difficult match … beat united and it will be like nectar…we will go nuts…payton will drop on his knees in tears and apologise for everything…. will>fatigue

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  35. that’s wo games where Lewandowski should have been sent off.

    a Tungsten hard performance from the Gunners,
    Wenger used the bench to perfection.
    ….and the ref was a tosser.

    the last 20 mins of Arsneal dom ination was a sight to behold – awsome energy levels.

    Hands up who wanted Plopp as replacement arsenal manger? – no one on PA, thats for sure.

    VCC mates.

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  36. So if we beat Marseilles, Dortmund will be kind of fucked if we send the Kids out at Napoli.

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  37. Double Canister November 7, 2013 at 1:03 am

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  38. Im on the , top of the world
    Looking down on creation and……

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  39. We could have earned 15 points in the group of death. Not bad for a team that wasn’t supposed to qualify.

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  40. AARON is super lucky he’d didn’t get tattooed with subotics boot on the goal he scored. Very brave kid that AARON.

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  41. It wasn’t really a football match, it was a battle of wills, how to keep your nerve.

    Arsenal got their strategy 100% for this. Do not over commit going forward, keep your shape, a test of wills is all about concentration, smallest of margins; such games at this level turn on a single goal, you find a way sooner or later to threaten and grab a goal, let them come to you, draw their sting, they will make a mistake, ultimately you find they don’t have plan B, they only have one way of playing, and then you take the game.

    Positively orchestral, led by Tomas all night.

    Stats-wise and in context, as somebody else has said, for degree of difficulty, this was amongst the most famous wins for an English team in Europe in a generation. A team with an immense home form, hasn’t failed to score at home in 50 or 60 matches, goal difference at home this season 28 for, 6 against, amongst the great form teams in Europe over the last year.

    Per and Kos, on this and a string of other performances are now, arguably I suppose, the finest centre-half pairing in the world. Fear them. They won every battle.

    And as for Giroud, Aaron put it away, but he and a clever cross from assist-master, made that goal from very little but keeping their nerve and trusting themselves.

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  42. @goonerkam at 1:51 am

    Not those fucking Carpenters again……..

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  43. Just read Kevin Whitcher’s piece in the On Line Gooner. A good account of every negative aspect or Arsenal’s performance last night……I didn’t see an ‘imperious’ Dortmund at the Grove…..What is wrong with these doomers? Does he just want to be proved correct? They can’t enjoy the moment at least?

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