Good morning Positives far and near,
A bright morning in Norfolk with just a hint of autumn in the garden.
As we all saw a valuable three points gathered in yesterday against a well-organised Southampton side maintains our PL momentum. This morning we sit just on the shoulder of the leading pack, tucked in nicely with games against Hull and then Chelsea in prospect.
Of yesterday’s game it was an absorbing contest. By no means classic Wengerball but a game in which, as the cliché goes “ we ground out a result”. We started slowly in comparison to Southampton and it took the opening goal to jolt us out of our hesitant state.
Saints came with a plan which very nearly worked, and it had nothing to do with bus parking. The visitors started with three players in attack, Tadic and Redmond of the wings and Rodriguez/Long more or less up the middle and tactically it caused us problems all afternoon. With Van Dijk and Fonte resolute at the back, Classie and Romelu breaking up midfield Fraser Foster had a much much quieter afternoon than I can recall he has ever had at the Ems. I can understand why their manager went away frustrated to earn nothing but praise for his team’s quality and application.
The result turned on small events and, for once, I enjoyed an excellent view of some of them from my spot in the Clock End. Watching the incidents last night on the box I would not have picked them up or their importance without seeing them live.
Most controversial was the alleged foul on Long in time added on by Monreal that Referee Madeley refused to give and from which, via a corner, our winning penalty came. Looking at the incident from 90 degrees to the action Nacho barely touched the Saints striker, the merest of contact with the back of his heel, accidental and on the basis of which the Irishman leapt into the air like a spawning salmon, clutched his face in agony etc. The TV idiocracy last night castigated the referee for failing to punish the so-called infringement. I quote “ he raked his studs down the back of Long’s ankle”. As Nacho was on a yellow card, it would have been curtains for him and curtains for our three points. Bollocks, Long cheated, Madeley spotted it for what it was. If the Southampton manager or any Southampton fan wants to complain then have a go at the idiot who stupidly gave the away the ball in the corner, in time added on, by trying to cheat.
Of our players the two new boys both did well. Mustafi looked as though he had been with us for months and while Perez found it difficult to get any space or time against the centre backs he was constantly moving and made a few nice touches. He will have easier games to get up to speed. Santi pulled the strings, master puppeteer that he is, Le Coz worked his arse off as usual ( and did you notice Francis did not get a card yesterday?) , and Hector and Nacho coped admirably with the Saints wingers and out in their usual attacking shift. Mesut had a quiet afternoon but when you are that good people notice if you so not orchestrate the decisive moments of a game. Even Mozart hit a few bum notes sometimes.
And what a goal from the birthday boy. I saw it described last night as “the finest goal ever scored by a French defender, anywhere, ever”. I think that is just about fair. In the context of our season it may be even more notable than that.
And finally a word of praise to our fans. We worked well to get get Foster booked early, which in it own small way was also a factor in our late, late victory. Onward to Paris, and in the words of M. de Lisle;
Allons enfants de la Arsenal,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Enjoy your Sunday.