Good evening Positive Ones and we have had a rather good afternoon, those of us who have had the good fortune to see the game from Selhurst Park and later ‘events’, haven’t we? For those like Tim who have responsibilities elsewhere then it is a pleasure to come.
Reviewing what for me was the first proper (competitive) game of the season is a straightforward task. I am not in position to contrast and compare with the Ammers defeat.
I saw much that I recognised, good quality passing and instinctive movement, Ozil weaving, Sanchez twisting and turning, Olivier engaged in ceaseless struggle with the Palace centre backs. Yes this is all as I remembered it. I was most impressed with both our full backs, Hector especially coming forward in the first half, and Monreal for a sturdy display in the second against an apparently reborn Zaha. When we were pressed we kept our shape and put in clean tackles, from open play the home side created very little. Could Le Coq have suffered a harsher punishment from Mr Mason ? As Glenn would say “I’ve seen them given” but in truth there was no red card worth of fouls today from any players and it would have spoiled what was a physically robust game played in the right sprit, in my opinion. Well done Mr M therefore.
Like you I thought that our dominance in the first 30 minutes deserved at least two goals, with the ball pinging around the Palace box, charged down, saved, deflected, spinning wide but not quite crossing the line. I have seen it before, I shall see it again. The equalizer was an ‘out of the blue’ moment for me. Against the run of play. Pah. The home crowd boomed. We did not panic though, composed ourselves and settled back to see out the first half.
After half time we had our customary wobble with Wickham brushing the post. And then up stepped the man, barging his 5’2” frame through the defender Ward and to force Delaney to sky it into his own net.
That Sanchez eh – what an APPETITE for the game ? And because this was an open contest it was exactly the stage he enjoys. Bravo Alexis and I hope Brendan was watching.
The game then ebbed and flowed to the final whistle, Palace showed their customary tenacity and worked the ball regularly to the edge of the box before surrendering it. We, sort of, relied on the fast break but to be honest in either side looked like scoring again and the game drew toward an orderly close with the three points properly allocated. Arteta’s introduction brought intelligence at the right time, and a great tackle proved there is life in those old Spanish legs yet. My only moments of panic were the two Palace corners in the final 5, both excellently placed and either of which could have pissed all over my chips with an equalizer. This week it was not to be though. As a general observation I thought individually our defenders played well when under pressure and as Palace attacked, very few errors, good positioning, decisive clearances, it is still not quite the organised/co-ordinated group they need to be though. It is not an full working mechanism, with each part meshing to the next. More work needed.
As for later events in the afternoon at the Etihad I suspect that while the result did not bring the same combination of relief and enjoyment that the three points earned at Palace delivered for us, it was still fun to watch. And as football fans we need fun, pantomime in case of Chelsea and their odious manager. I saw one side getting mullered by the other, despite what the man from Setubal declared at the game’s end. Aguero a class act, perfect balance.
Ragged, that is what Chelsea looked to me, ragged. Is it wishful thinking on my part that Jose appears a man under pressure ? I hope not.
The force of habit that is Arsenal football club has been restored.
On to the next one ….