Bore da pobl y Positives,
What a cracking game yesterday. One that will stick in my mind when the record of the 2016/2017 Premier League season is published.
Of the game itself? I admit I anticipated an easier afternoon, against a Swansea team in the bottom three, not won a game since the opening day of 13th of August in any competition, who have struggled this season on their travels, and who rolled up at the Ems with the unknown Mr Bradley in charge. What threat could they provide to an Arsenal side that has been flying of late, a virtually fully fit squad, quality all over the pitch and the Ems a relative fortress with the Scarfists silently peripheral in their misery as winning game follows game.
I should know better although until the 38th minute everything proceeded as I expected. We dominated the ball, passed well, slipped in the first with Theo showing the strength of a young Hercules, then doubled our lead. The visitors really did not have an answer. They chased us desperately but were always a yard behind. “Welcome to the PL Bob, this could get a bit tricky for you though”.
And then in the 38th minute that silly error from Granit, the ball given away needlessly which Sigurdsson slotted beyond Cech. That was a hell of a finish from a player who is not supposed to be a striker. Over those few seconds our dominance faded and/or Swansea sniffed the possibility of recovery from what a moment before had been a serious beating. One of THOSE moments.
Thereafter for the remainder of the match we found ourselves in an even contest, lots of energy, Alexis buzzing, cut and thrust, both sides playing a good passing game, their man Barrow a constant pest, both sides attacking con brio. We eased a little further ahead with an outstanding ball from the Chilean and a super finish from Mesut. And then, damn them, SCFC managed to drag us back to 3-2.
I could sense the manager’s unease when he put on Le Coq in place of Iwobi. This was going to be a hard last 25 minutes, the points were far from safe.
Moss’s choice of card colour was, as Arsene said, “harsh”. Whether Barrow was in fact injured I don’t know. A trip would not normally cause an injury but he appeared to be limping afterwards and exited ten minutes later so perhaps he was.
The final 20+ minutes were end to end stuff. Swansea had most of the ball, we defended carefully, solidly, cleanly, and kept them at bay. Our earlier looseness in defence was replaced by steely efficiency. Much our credit we also were (almost) deadly in our counter attacking, with two more chances for Theo that would and, in the case of the second one, should have finally hammered the Swans to defeat.
Of the result ? Very, very important. We stumbled in the 38th minute but managed to stay up. We had less possession than Swansea, and ultimately less players, but we had we used more effectively. Three points on a day when our rivals slipped up. Three points in a game decided by a pass and a finish from our two world class players. As you may gather from the photograph above the game took it out of me.
The significance of the game and the result ? Our sixth Premier League victory and we settle on the shoulder of the blue Manchester team, breathing lightly on the shiny dome of Pep. As I said in opening on such days are League Championships won, and lost.
Therefore enjoy your Sunday and we shall see what the champions of Bulgaria have to offer later in the week.