Geeezzz. That wasn’t the tonic I’d hoped for.
Moving forward, drawing against Manchester United isn’t catastrophic; the world won’t implode and the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse aren’t waiting atop a hill to charge at the unsuspecting. Things will move one from here. However, I can’t help but think it was all a touch anticlimactic.
With a resounding defeat haunting us, we went into the game with an air of nerves and unrest hanging over the team and the fans. It showed in the performance. I struggle to recall another game between the two teams where neither looked eager to press forward for the win. United came with a parked bus and the hope to sneak it on the counter. Arsenal looked more concerned with not making mistakes than taking a risk going forward.
I missed most of the live broadcast of the game because I work late nights quite often – being a chef has this impact on your social agenda and ability to watch your beloved team. Where I imagine you all sat enjoying the game at your leisure, I was trying to concentrate on my work whilst paying far more attention to Twitter and whatever medium I could get updates from. Having returned home and had a chance to view the game with the knowledge of the result beforehand, my opinion on things is this; f**k it.
It wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t anywhere remotely like what we’d hoped, but it’s what we have. Some things about the game deserve to be mentioned; Olivier Giroud’s performance being a good example. He’s been very good in stages this season, but last night he was bloody awful. He looked sluggish and far removed from the guy that performed well as the focal point of our attack earlier in the campaign. He gets a great deal of flack from the irate few across the Internet. I defend him because I believe he contributes to the team and he’s very unselfish. His performance yesterday was poor and he looked every bit as bad as he’s been made out to be.
Mesut Ozil, who took his share of the flack on Saturday, did play well. He was central to the chances we created and looked the player most likely to produce in an interminably drab affair. He put himself about the pitch and showed glimpses of that Ozil magic we all know is there. After having played so poorly it was satisfying to see him pick it up.
My moment of the match came from our keeper. He was quick to snuff out the danger early on as a calamitous Arteta blunder put that repugnant grey tw*t through on goal, but the best incident of the game came later. His incredible reflex save in the second half to again prevent that egregious Dutch cretin was nothing short of jaw-dropping. Szczesny has been vastly improved this season and looks like a certainty to become a world-class keeper in the future. He’s been truly brilliant this season, even with the occasional moment of horror.
To summarise; a draw didn’t help us return to the top of the league, but when you consider a stabilising result was of paramount importance to us, it’s far from appalling. A loss could have had significant repercussions. I’m not one to dwell on the performance and react with hyperbolic fury, nor do I agree with the select few that chose to boo the team at the final whistle. That doesn’t help anything. Whilst we still have a fighting chance, supporting is what we should focus on. People have all the right in the world to protest how the see fit. I may not agree with some, but I don’t condemn them for how hey react. That’s up to them.
We’re still in this, even if those behind are worryingly catching up. There’s plenty of football to be played and nothing is over until it’s a mathematical impossibility. Much of last night gave cause for concern. Arsene’s refusal to introduce Podolski baffled me then and continues to baffle me now. Why not introduce a player to a stalemate you’ve refereed to as “the best finisher at the club”? I struggle with that, especially when you consider how poor Giroud was.
Then I remember I’m not a football manager and I know precisely f**k all about what goes on behind the scenes. Arsene does bewilder me at times, but he certainly knows immeasurably more than I do. I choose to trust his judgement for that reason, and that reason alone at the moment.
From here we have to move forward. Liverpool in the FA Cup is an important fixture and a perfect way to make amends for a tragic defeat. That competition may not be high on Arsene’s priorities, with Bayern heading our way next week it’s likely we won’t play our strongest team, but I hope we go for it without fear. Fear is what’s hampering us at the moment, not ability.
That’s all for today, folks. The comments await your views below. I’m sure you’ll all have thoughts and opinions on the game, so don’t be shy sharing them. I shall return with more tomorrow.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.