A guest post from @foreverheady
I really don’t like games that start at 3 on a Saturday: they are so last century, and we certainly got a last century pitch to play on yesterday. Three o’clock means of course you only get to see the game if you actually go, and yesterday only 24,721 lucky punters were able to do that. I’m not sure how many away supporters found tickets but I’m guessing not many. For the rest of us in the UK you had to rely on dodgy streams, a private showing at the Emirates, the audio commentary on the Arsenal player or snippets on Radio 5. It was so far back in time the only surprise was not finding a copy of the Saturday Pink through the letter box to be consumed on route to the Dog and Duck for a pint of mild and bitter and cribbage and dominoes with Ernest and Albert. Even Arsene in his pre-match presser suggested that Selhurst Park was a bit like Highbury, and it was easy to see just what he meant, with the crowd on top of the players and vocal support relentless. I doubt somehow that the Palace authorities are too fussed about safe standing.
And safe standing was certainly a problem for the players too, the pitch ironically prepared to produce a level playing field. It certainly didn’t appear to suit our technicians, and it was no great surprise that Welbeck, almost alone, seemed to relish the conditions. Not that he lacks technical ability, but his forceful, powerful and direct approach certainly seemed to fit. I wondered after the game whether Arsene needs to pick very different teams for some of our away matches. Playing at the Emirates is easy if you have the skill to do it. A large pitch perfectly prepared allows for intricate one touch play, and we are at our best when we zip the ball around. It is no coincidence that our home form is so good, the underfoot conditions seemingly being more important to us than whatever atmosphere is generated by the Emirates crowd. But away from home is very different against some of the more robust sides on pitches that are less than perfect. I’m not going down the Arsenal are soft route here – far from it – but suggesting that maybe some players are better suited to certain types of game than others. I think this is why we so often hear the call for a physical midfielder, and yesterday would have suited Ramsey and Oxlade more than Cazorla and Ozil I suspect.
But this is largely conjecture, because the commentary on the Arsenal Player is absolutely hopeless if you want to get an idea of how the game is unfolding. In fact it is worse than hopeless and I would say is negatively misleading. The pattern seems to be that any time Arsenal have hold of the ball the commentary team talk about anything and everything bar the action: memories are polished, emails are read, even when those emails are critical of team selection and players. Once we have lost the ball the commentary restarts so you get an impression that at no stage do we ever have any possession at all. It is a really depressing experience. I was quite surprised to see the highlights this morning to see that there were moments when we were allowed to play a bit ourselves. If I had one wish it would be that the club has a serious look at what it does with the matches it broadcasts. Not all can go to the game, not all have access to live coverage, but most can find a way to tune into the clubs own service. As such it is an important outlet and needs to be treated as such. The excellent Adrian Clarke was good at half time, and I am looking forward to his analysis of the match tomorrow.
So what of the game itself? A truly excellent result and a heart in the mouth last few minutes. Top play by Welbeck to win the penalty and provide the assist for Giroud. I hear he was outside the box when fouled but it didn’t look that way to me on the replay and offside for the second, although there didn’t seem much protest at the time. How wonderful to get a decision go our way for a change and the three points won yesterday makes up a little for the points lost when they haven’t. I don’t think these things even up over the course of a season but we deserved a bit of payback. Before the game I saw a couple of articles that suggested that Van Gaal was right to let him go and that he wasn’t up to Arsenal standard, so I was pleased that he so quickly proved himself. I have no doubt whatsoever that he will become a major Arsenal figure and suspect that more than many he will benefit from working closely with the manager. After all Arsene Wenger seems to have done a pretty good job with Giroud, who was on hand again to score what proved to be the winning goal. And beyond that I can’t comment as I haven’t seen the game properly at all, but what I do have is a satisfied and slightly smug smirk on my face as I listen to the moans and groans of the media, Mourinhos and Rooneys of this world. We are third now, have a Champions League home fixture to look forward to, before preparing to face Everton next Sunday. And Jack is back. What’s not to like?
They started together against Galatasaray at the Ems, fins.
Well, that was not part of the script going into this game! We were poor all round, even our big players let us down today. It was a mentally and physically tired performance – perhaps that boggy pitch on Saturday took more out of the team than we realised at the time. I just hope all concerned can put this horror show behind them and get back on track for Everton, which will not be easy. I hate to be a doomer but it looks like the CL dream is over for another season.
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