Good morning Positives,
A good Monday morning indeed after a very good Sunday afternoon. And pleasing for all the right ‘footballing’ reasons.
As anticipated Jose had rolled into town in his bus, and to be fair to the Portuguese, his chosen mode of transport had allowed him to build up an extraordinary 24 game unbeaten run in the PL (14 wins/11 draws). Checking the records I see that since 1992, and despite the heights that Blue Nose took them to, that is their best ever.
From our perspective we needed a win to ensure the chance of Champions League continues to flicker, and the three points were well earned. While Citeh look to have picked up their top 4 form again if any of you saw Klopp’s touchline meltdown at Anfield yesterday, not to mention their dropped points against Saints, you will be cheerful. As for his post match explanation about the dryness of the Anfield pitch that was truly odd.
Returning to the Emirates from where I was sitting the first half was a bit disappointing. We had a lot of possession and passed well, right up to the edge of the visitors penalty area. Beyond that point we had no threat, with either Danny on his own and surrounded by three blue shirted defenders or, on other occasions, no Arsenal player in the box. Mesut seemed to be playing very, very deep. Having looked at the first half highlights again last night I was probably a little over-critical. We opened them up once/twice, with Aaron’s strike drawing a good low down save from De Gea and Danny managing (for once) to turn with the ball at his feet and get his shot away. One nasty moment was a pass back by Holding with the ball stopping dead halfway to Cech. Too much pre match watering of the grass perhaps (as Klopp might say?) The longer the half went on I thought the more we controlled the game.
Highlight of the first half ? A rousing chorus of “Fuck off, Mourinho”, a theme that united all Gooners, Inners/Outers/Fence-Sitters/male/female/young/old etc. Solidarity among the Arsenal community – Marvellous. (It brought a tear to the eye, it really did).
Going into the second half there were grounds for cautious optimism therefore. We seemed a bit more urgent and the Ox in particular was snapping into tackles and, when he had the ball , speeding up the line with the ball at his feet and straight in Darmian’s face.
The opener ? As big a surprise to me as to any one reading this I’d guess. We know Granit has a good shot on him but, other than a couple of pre Christmas efforts, his accuracy has been diabolical for weeks. I was as silent as the fans around me as the ball arced ever so slowly over the scrambling De Gea.
Bit of luck ? Yeah but we were trying to score, and they weren’t.
And within two minutes the best piece of football all afternoon. The Ox retrieving a loose clearance with Rob Holding, and whipping in an excellent cross, Aaron, Danny and Alexis all lined up on the six yards line. A controlled, strong header, Danny delighted, pandemonium among Arsenal fans. Nothing Smalling or De Gea could do. Yet again the Trafford Park hierarchy must wonder why they sold Welbeck.
Although they had more than half an hour left the Mancs never managed to put us under a period of sustained pressure. A couple of long range Rooney efforts were their high point.
I shall leave you to fight it out for Arsenal man of the match. One of those games where a lot of players caught the eye. My particular preference is Rob Holding. Elegant and growing in confidence. From our opponents Tuanzebe is a big lad for a 19 year old, he had a great game and it was his full debut. I’m impressed.
Enjoy Monday. A quick turnaround before another cracker at St Mary’s on Wednesday.
PS. And might I welcome the Seychelles Gooners.