36 Comments

Another Saturday In January

I am a cautious fan. I avoid assumption, I shun prediction. Too often has the finger of astonishment been bitten by the teeth of regret.
Nevertheless I was sure.  I was certain. Along with the vast majority of the congregation gathered, including the long suffering Fulham chapter, I would see an easy home victory illuminated by scintillating football, peppered with frequent and spectacular goals to add to our season’s tally. We had not served a spanking out for a long while, defined as a  real 5-6-7 goals scored at home. And after all a team that can concede 4 to SunLun and 6 to the Tigers with just 1 in reply must be easy meat for our brave lads. Today is the day I crowed, inwardly at least.
And so, as has happened many times, the gods of football saw my pride and my confidence and smote me down ( is smote a word ? it should be ).
As I suspect every person who watched the game will have seen it really did not go like that at all. After ten minutes of possession and one good chance we shrank back.  Slow, one dimensional, no incisive passes and quite a few stray taps that the opposition snuffed out. Even Fulham seemed surprised as to where the home side had disappeared to. Fulham even, whisper it very quiet, looked like they might score a ‘goal’.
I would never name names, and I absolve the back five from any criticism. It was the blokes in front of them, the truth is I would struggle to identify a player who was poor, it just did not click, no it was just …………………………. Who knows?
And the crowd, ah the crowd, the barometer of all things. The tutting started after 15 minutes, the shuffling of feet and the muttering, the loud and insistent silence. Some expressed bewilderment, one poor chap said ‘I am at my wit’s end’.  No don’t laugh, seriously, he did.
And thankfully and magically it was eventually over, Swarbrick blew his silver whistle. He lads trooped off for the ceremonial orange. Heads were shaken, scalps scratched, bladders relieved, the ‘highlights’ (ahem) on the big screen ignored, Fat Sam’s imminent P45 chortled over.
And having cast me down from the heights the gods took pity on my wretched state.  
In answer to the question ‘Who knows’ Arsene spoke words of gold to the players during the interval. He must have. For we were transformed.
Santi, Mesut and Jack emerged onto the arena like lions after half time and tore into Fulham at speed and with precision. The early afternoon torpor was replaced with zing ( another much under used word) . And as I would expect when the gears are engaged and vehicle surges forward at speed Fulham were blown away. The previously comfortable Fulham defence was twisted and pulled about until eventually it snapped open, twice. The first goal pure Arsenal technical quality (PATQ) , the second a bit of PATQ and, from my viewpoint, a bit of dodgy keeping from Steklenburg. Three points safely in the bank.
And after that 15 minute burst ?
Well we were comfortable without ever really pushing hard. Fulham seemed a bit relieved it was all over and never really tried to get back in the game although we nearly gifted them a consolation in time added on. The chairs were on the tables, the glasses washed, a hoover humming in the background. Chef had gone home.
Poldi ran around like a man possessed in stark contrast to most of his team mates and most of the opposition.  Had no one told him the contest was over ? If he does not start against Coventry I shall phone Arsene to ask why. Another clean sheet and other than the last minute scare never a real threat on our goal.
Lesson of the day ? Be cautious, expect nothing.
Today’s post was by @anicoll5

36 comments on “Another Saturday In January

  1. Great write up ‘coll.
    I know people say that all the time,but reallly it was, Most enjoyable.

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  2. i can get people being worried with the flat first half but…. you know it…. they will come out and the first 10-20 mins of second will be aggressive…. and yesterday i had a father with his 7 or 9 year old next to me… haha..little gunner he knew everything!!! he was correcting his dad as to which player had the ball…. brilliant… i gave him high fives all game and he was asking me what the fans said when singing the were ht enorth bankl highbury chant… i felt like a professor of science passing on valuable information for the future wellbeing of humanity…..the father was so happy to take his boy in a game and us winning. he was grabbing my arm in goal celebrations and squeezing like we had won the champions league….legend….i then bought the dad a pint and the kid some prinkles and maltesers…. i took some of his maltesers though, bullied him, in forn tof his dad. …..what? i was getting the munches…

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  3. nice writeup COLL. enjoyed reading it. I agree with most but have to say expectations of a spanking were probably misplaced. Fulhams approach to a game against ARSENAL away would definitely be different than those games in which they shipped five or six goals. For them to get a shock draw against the GUNNERS would have been ideal. Those other games you mentioned were must wins for them if they are to survive one more season In the EPL. thanks for the report. Very well written.
    HUNTER 13
    bulling an eight year old.? nice. you are going to cause an international incident one day. (0(

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  4. Good write up Anicol15, but I agree with Goonerkam – Fulham were always going to play cautious against us and hope for a break away or set play goal to defend with their lives. Although they haven’t beaten us at home ever, they have come away with a couple of good draws lately. They would have played more openly in those games where they got so heavily beaten and they came to Arsenal not to lose. We played into their hands first half with our tentative approach, but once we upped the tempo, they couldn’t live with us. As for the goal fest, I doubt we will see one this season as our style seems to be get two goals and then play conservatively until the final whistle. I suspect we will not see the scintillating stuff until we have safely secured a trophy then the shackles will be off. I can’t wait.

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  5. Lovely stuff Coll, we certainly weren’t at our best yesterday but at no point did I ever think we wouldn’t win,this teams got balls of steel.

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  6. There does seem to be a concerted effort by the team to do just enough to win games, in an effort to conserve energy and avoid injury etc.

    It may well appear like the team arent arsed, but given results so far and the level of focus, consistency and defensive solidity, the players must feel pretty confident they can get the job done and pick up three points.

    Given the quality of attacking talent we have, its almost inevitable that one of them, or a devastating combination, like the 1st goal yesterday will be able to unpick even the tightest, most organised defence.

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  7. The boys aren’t dropping stupid points anymore. They haven’t done so since the beginning of the second half of last season. We’re twenty two games in and we are on fifty one points. Arsene said we’re on pace to beat the points record for the premiere league.

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  8. thanks ‘coll.
    i dont think we will beat teams 6, 7 goals this season except if we play poldi from the start. the reason is that most of our players are so good on the ball they dont want to release it into the net! why would they as long as they continue to keep it save, two nil is ok by their standard. no need of doing the city style. score six this week and draw next week. for players like ozil, cazorla, ramsey wilshere rosicky arteta flamini gnabry all in the same team, it can only be cruize control as long as there is no real and present danger.

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  9. Good job there Coll. It seems our new found emphasis on team shape precludes the gung-ho approach of the past. It can be maddeningly frustrating at times as evident in the 1st half yesterday but we can’t argue with the results as we no longer ship easy goals and generally confine the opposition to shots from long distance. In my opinion while AW has done an excellent rebuild the job is incomplete. This squad can shift it up one or two gears which is a frightening possibility. That explosive cameo by both Gnabry and Podolski is should make every gooner drool.

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  10. Nice article Col, good read. I wasn’t expecting a goal-fest purely because most teams tend to shut up shop against us in the hope of a 0-0 or a stolen goal on the break. I’d say we are more likely to score big against Manure. As it was, we put three past Citeh despite their ‘assisted’ 6 in reply.

    Ah, Dexter just beat me to it – it’s been a feeling I’ve had for a good number of games now and whether it’s the old cliched ‘German efficiency’ thing I’ve no idea but it seems pretty clear to me that we are most definitely going up and down the gears during games. It may not be a crowd-pleaser, exactly, but it could prove hugely effective over the course of a long hard season with economy of effort being the preferred approach and a 2-0 being a more welcome result than a 4-2, in this respect.

    During the game on Monday we had two goals in 60 seconds as a result of that particular gear change and again yesterday, two goals in four minutes. Certainly from the seats ringside, this gear-change is extremely noticeable. Yes, there’s much talk of ‘winning’ ugly and doing ‘just enough’ but I really suspect it’s largely planned. It’s not a new approach, Manure have done this for years and it’s likely to be the necessary approach when genuinely competing in two or more competitions.

    I find it fascinating and exciting.

    Whilst Santi and Kos rightly attracted the majority of the praise for individual players, aside from them I was most delighted with Podolski’s return to action; he hit the ground running and made a concerted effort to destroy the goal-post late on. Serge’s confidence is also a joy and a couple of wayward shots aside, he retains composure beyond his years and all the signs of massive potential turning into game-winning actuality.

    Who knows if we will sign anyone this window but I don’t think it would be the end of the world if we didn’t; it might mean we carry on with our near-clandestine assault on the EPL whereas a high-profile capture would merely advertise the fact we are gunning for the big prize.

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  11. Thank you for your kind comments;

    With regard to Fulham’s more defensive approach that is absolutely right – Hangeland and their young Burn did a good job – they sat back and defended and halfway through the first half did not know quite what to do when presented with the ball on the halfway line. It was only when we injected speed into our work that we unsettled them and they cracked.

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  12. Come on you Swans.

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  13. Great read ‘Coll, more to follow I hope. Thanks

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  14. Lovely write up and I was certainly hoping for a goal fest, but then I do every week! It was the second home game in a row that I have had to listen to on the Arsenal Player, which is always a strange experience. The commentary was better yesterday (on New Year’s Day they spent nearly the whole match talking about emails they had received) but it isn’t as immediate a picture they paint as say, the real pros do when we are featured on Radio 5 Live. In fact, it is entirely possible to get a completely skewed idea of the game from the Arsenal Player: they tend to relax when we are in possession and talk about all sorts of things, but their voices convey real alarm whenever the opposition has the ball, which does nothing for my blood pressure.

    But it was comfy enough in the end, and just like Villa on Monday we had that swift period of high octane play which secured the two goals. I am loving the way our midfielders keep rotating with regard to who is clearly the designated striker of the day: Ramsey, Wilshire, Cazorla, Ozil have all had two goal matches, which is a feature strangely unmentioned in the press. Podolski doesn’t seem to quite fit into the way we are trying to play at the moment: he would if we played 442, but we don’t, so unless he plays right up front I can’t see him doing much more than come on for the last 20 minutes if we need an urgent injection. Having said that, it is entirely possible that he has never been properly fit since he has been with us, and is only now reaching optimum levels which could see the greater industry from him that some seem to think is lacking. I wish he could play more for he might be the 25 goal striker everyone says we need so desperately.

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  15. I believe the reason the team is not scoring floods of goals is because the offense is still getting used to Özil. Just look at the over hit and mistimed passes they hit in the first half yesterday. If they make things tighter by just an inch, those passes start to come off and they’ll start scoring three or four a game.

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  16. “There does seem to be a concerted effort by the team to do just enough to win games, in an effort to conserve energy and avoid injury etc.”

    ‘Coll, this team look like they are focused on the long game. I noticed this during the Fener Home game which was a very important mid-week game sandwiched between tough PL games, guessing that they would have developed this confidence during the run in last season. But I did not imagine at the time that they’d be able to pull off playing with such control, gr*t and gumption whilst being Top of The League in mid-January. The pre-season game against Abu Dhabi was another good guide for observers of this team, without Walcott *sobs* the counter-attacking won’t be as potent as it could be (Villa Away?) but they’ve scored such goals over the past few months when Walcott was out previously. Rosicky against the Tinies. It’s all good.

    They may not be scoring as many goals as the Oilers but the build up for the first from the free kick was entertaining! And I’m not sure if any of their goals were as stupendously brilliant as was Carzola’s first goal. What a goal.
    It’s tempting to think the second goal was offside. Even applying the new law revisions that were issued to the referees (exemptions for when City play!) I think Giroud makes a stab at the ball, so maybe he played himself offside? Still, that’s a tricksy call, and, well, in such instances it is the convention and indeed an instruction to give the benefit to the attacker (unless the goal is against City!). So, it’s just a normal call, there hasn’t been much hoopla over Giroud’s position: This is why that call in the Newcastle City game stank out the yard.

    Coventry on Friday in night? Although the FA seem intent on destroying their cup, there will be many Coventry (& Arsenal) fans unable to attend, their players will still be up for the game. With Bendtner out the odds on Plodders starting ‘up top’ are quite good. Could be goals in that game, possibly the Gunners will go for a front three of Gnabbers, Plodders and Chamberlain. Which of the reservists will get the call to arms? Too soon for Afobe? How about Zelalem? Gnabry might get the rest if he’s booked in for some more starts in the league games.

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  17. Just saying, it is often the case, and has been for us at certain times, that the 4-5-6 score lines can be indicative of less mature teams highly motivated in high periods but inconsistent, and the following week the score line is 1-2. I prefer our 2-0 approach, with the odd 3-1. I also prefer that we defend the lead and close the game, with Nacho and TV cameos. Surely I recall the Invincibles having this very quality, inevitably a goal would arrive in the first or early in second half; then as the opposition opened up to try and get back, the second would come, a smash and grab counter. Maybe a third, but by then Paddy and Petit were much into their element … erm try and get round us then.

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  18. Interesting position for Arsene on Friday. I think we will put out a good side to start but might have some kids on the bench. Make the game safe, give Poldi, the Ox a start and maybe Aaron will be fit for some game time.

    The ghosts of Blackburn and Bradford loom.

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  19. I think this more cautious, calculated approach is more suited to our game, especially as Fins says, with Theo now missing (sobs also). But its also funny to read the hacks and pundits calling it winning ugly, because that is the level they operate at; over simplistic and it still allows for some good old criticism too (why havent they done this before, etc?).

    I am also hoping that the much vaunted city swashbuckling displays at home will lead to their best players getting knackered long before the season ends. I am looking at Yaya in particular here but also a few others (Aguero, Negredo, Navas and Silva please!).

    There are lots of twists and turns to come and it is a really enjoyable ride.

    As for Friday’s game (I am really looking forward to it. A Friday evening is good time for me, sorry to be selfish!), I think the boss will rotate as much as possible.

    Fabianski, Jenkinson, Vermealen, AOC, Podolski, Gnabry all starting, with a few kids on the bench. Who knows, maybe Frimpong will even get a look in?

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  20. Moyes is playing right into chelski hands. Maureenwhore couldn’t be happier . 3 or 4 nil. Idiot.

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  21. Without a doubt he is the luckiest manager ever. Add the millions and millions he has spent wherever he has been and his awful horrible skanky ‘tactics’, with ‘players’ like Ramires, Luiz, Terry, Cole and Drogba and there is plenty reason to actively detest the vile twat.

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  22. Thanks Anicoll.

    Besides being positive and actually supporting the team through thick and thin, many of the commentators here are very insightful. I learn a lot. All a journalist has to do to write good pieces on Arsenal is to have a look at the articles and comments here.

    I like how we can shift gears up and down. It is good that we are able to do this while the team gets to know Ozil.

    Regarding the goal fest, I hope we do it against manure. We owe them one and more. Against Chelsea and Sheik city would be good too.

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  23. Dexter, the way you said tactics and players in quotation marks made me laugh.

    I just want to punch that smug bastard.

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  24. really enjoyable read a5 you have a Stew like quality with the flow of your quill.
    I have to say I agree with some of the comments above about not expecting a goal fest especially as they had their no1 defender and organiser back.
    I would like to give a big up to Oli G, I had an argument with a certain gooner from Yorkshire after he said he had another poor game and run at his fastest catching up with Santi after he had scored. I asked to watch the game again focusing on Giroud’s contribution, a request he declined and said it was all about opinion. I thought fair enough and decided to watch it again myself and I have to say I was even more impressed with his workrate and touch, he was involved in just about everything and on many occasion come short to take the ball of Per when Fulham were pressing and negating our midfield. Although many times isolated, especially after we went two up, he lost possession only 3 times in the entire second half and two of those were when defenders got to him as he received the ball on the edge of the box. I know people have their favourites and opinions but I wish more fans would support players rather than slag them off. oh and thanks foreverheady for your support

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  25. How was that a red for Vidic? I see tackles like that against our boys every week and they never result in a red card.

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  26. The whimsical Mr Dowd ah yes;
    Either a) give them both a red card

    Or b) give them both a yellow

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  27. Hahahahaha the Red Mancs. I hope they’re as shit as this when they come to the Emirates.

    Torres looks like he’s in for a long term injury. This leaves them with Demba Ba, who hasn’t played in months, and Eto’o, who is not going to face defences as bad as Manure’s every game.

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  28. One thing that is good to see is that many blame Ferguson for leaving behind a bad team. That and the severance of ties with the FA after his retirement hasnt helped Manure.

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  29. I tend to agree with ANDREW & others who expect a goalfest when we get our hands on manure. That is if David hasn’t wised up any when he comes our way.
    Is it arrogance or just simple stupidly.

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  30. Hey ‘coli… enjoyable piece… please more of that instead of PG’s “sober” reviews. LOL

    I don’t know why we always meet man u and city when we are not at our best, the reverse would do nicely for he second half of season match up. More than ever, it becomes obvious that there are less favours for man u and vidic can no more get away with the rubbish he used to.

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  31. Goonerkam, I suspect Moyes feels that now he is managing a big team he has to try to play. But the reality is that manure without Judas and the granny shagger is pretty average. He would do better to revert to the tactics he employed with Everton – defensive and kicky. Although it looks like the referees have finally grown a pair if Vidic has received the long warranted red card. Will he be back by the time they face us? Not that there is anything to fear from him if the referees do their job properly. Without a license to cheat, he’s no great shakes.

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  32. @Passenal
    It’s not the refs growing a pair, it’s simply the lack of SAF on the bench.

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  33. You’re right Evil, now that he’s not there, I guess they’ve finally dropped!

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  34. The refs have transferred their allegiance to the so called special one I am afraid. Luiz could easily have been sent off in the first half, and a bit more policing of the technical area wouldn’t come amiss either. They will kick us to kingdom come when we go there before Szczseny is sent off after 43 minutes when Ramirez repeats his dive from last year. Or something. I can hear it now; “for me is penalty.”

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  35. PASSENAL
    I suppose you have a point there . I just can’t believe the luck of Maureen. We on the other hand have to deal with a parked bus when time comes. He probably marked this game on the calendar as a must win , ????? . pffftttt. if he falls to far below the front runners the glazers and the board will be on their knees begging ferret face Ferguson back to save them blushes.

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