Good morning and welcome to the 29th December 2017 Positive Arsenal fans,
Did you enjoy that after six days of sporting abstinence ? I did. A genuinely good game of football last night I thought. I fancied it might turn into a bit of a boot’n’fist carnival but I could not have been more wrong.
Of the build up there seemed to be a little nervousness in the Arsenal camp about the fixture, based on our admittedly dodgy away form and the Woyist wevival down in SE25. When I say the “Arsenal camp” I mean my “camp” of course, my emotional tent flapping in the wind, my pegs loosened. Having watched our top 4 rivals rattle in easy wins in the days preceding the fixture we needed all the points and a limp effort would not have been acceptable.
Within a few minutes of kick off however our concerns had been settled. We had the game under control, with 70-80% possession and, yet again, an opponent pinned back in their box and desperately hoofing the all away. The first goal was inevitable because of the dominance, but what a tidy finish from Shkodran ? An absolute poacher’s finish into the bottom corner. Having marked our scorecard we then streamed forward, teased, tricked, chipped and waltzed at the Palace defence, and should have had the second and third goals before half time but the killer blow eluded us. Chances came and went, saved by Speroni, narrow misses by Lacazette. It is the Arsenal way.
And then the half time whistle, Zaha in a right teenage tantrum over goodness knows what, and the Selhurst crowd quieter than a church mouse.
And then !!! Well I don’t know what Steve Parish is paying Hodgson but he is worry it. He managed to haul his lads back to their feet and send them out with a spring in their step, most significantly Zaha who decided to drop the strop and play football, which he did directly and effectively for the second half. It may actually have helped Wilfried to be given a yellow card by Oliver as he shut up and got on with his job. A bit of highly dubious defending provided Townsend the space for his shot, but a good finish nonetheless.
And then it came – the wobble ! The seven to eight minutes we suffer so often in games (that we should be 4-0 up in but aren’t) when we were under pressure, and unable to string three passes together. The home crowd roared – a bad, bad sign.
To our considerable credit we settled the wobble down, cleared hard and deep when necessary, and tackled cleanly around our box. Not once last night did the referee have a serious penalty appeal from Palace to look at.
And having regained control of the match we surged forward again, capitalising on our dominance through Sanchez with two well taken goals. A final late flurry by the home side was snuffed out by some competent game management in the corners. Three goals, three points, as it should be.
Standout performances ? My man was Mustafi. The opening goal I have mentioned above but last night on the pitch was a Palace striker by the name of Christian Benteke. I shall say that name again Christian Benteke. And that is the total number of times you heard his name in open play last night, over 94 minutes.
And second in the queue for awards is Jack. He has become a force again with his runs from deep, his strength and tricky feet. Add in the best pass of the evening for Sanchez’s second goal and you have the full package coming together in Wilshere.
That will do me. Bit of work today to keep my hand n then a lazy long weekend. See you Sunday.