Good Morning Fellow Positives,
I suspect I would be hard pushed to find many Arsenal fans who would regard last night’s result, as opposed to last night’s performance, as anything other than a disappointment. Two points we might reasonably have expected to collect went unclaimed, the single point sparse recompense.
I might however gently point out to those likely to submerge into long term grief that the single point leaves us just two points behind everyone’s title favourites Citeh, and just five behind the still scampering Foxes. Admittedly the result also places us behind the Neighbours which I appreciate would test the patience of St Monica, but a temporary arrangement I am sure.
The reason for optimism immediately practical. Citeh and Leicester meet on Saturday, and the following weekend we play the Foxes and Citeh take on Spuds. Certainly the arrangement of results require us to take our chances, with wins in both games against Bournemouth and against Leicester, but do that and we could be on the same points as Leicester, in front of Citeh and Spuds. Admittedly the results would have to fall for us the right way but that would depend on a bit of luck. Even without a bit of luck and already tight race for the title is likely to further bunch up in terms of points.
The key theme of theme of luck, providence, good fortune etc. leads me neatly ( well I think neatly) into last night’s game and the review of events.
I thought we played well last night. The opening phase of 15 minutes or so Saints came out and put us under pressure and I assume were looking to snatch an early goal before retreating behind what is a well organised defence. Koeman is no idiot and he knew he was in for a difficult evening. When that initiative failed we gradually took control and, as we all saw or heard, created openings in the visitors’ defence. We were not quite at our best but still effective despite Saints disrupting our midfield by being quick into the tackle and roughing us up. Where we did break through, and create clear goal-scoring chances Fraser Forster got his foot, arm, hand, shoulder* (tick box as appropriate) in the way.
Half time came and went and it did not seem conceivable that with the pressure we had imposed that eventually we would not break through and yet, and yet…….
From 60-65 minutes onwards we stepped up the urgency and the speed of our play while Saints engaged in some blatant timewasting that led to the predictable 6-7 minutes of time added on. During that final, frantic half an hour we created goal scoring chances on Southampton’s goal every minute. Shot after shot and headers poured into the opposition and yet again Forster managed to leap and claw every on target effort away. One important point should be made is that where Arsenal have failed to score earlier in the season a lot of the problem came from shots that went high and/or wide of the target. Not last night. The official statistics say ten shots on target. I am surprised, it seemed like more, much more.
And so eventually we ran out of time. The visitors, who looked exhausted in the final few minutes, celebrated. They will not earn a point in a harder game all season. Credit to Forster, excellent display of keeping and while the pure goal keeping art was absent from some of his saves, he had the occasional flashes of luck that gave his side the result they were evidently delighted with.
For us I thought both full backs were magnificent all night. I thought Mesut and Alexis were excellent. I thought Koscielny was a leader all over the field.
So onwards to Bournemouth, Sunday lunchtime. Let us bring Arsenal’s footballing destiny back into our own hands.
Enjoy the week.