Ok. I’ll come out and say it. I’m sick of that score line. I’m copacetic that we bagged three points and are on route to our freshly minted 3rd Place Trophy (patent pending), but am absolutely miffed with the familiarity of the routine. Incidentally this is the ninth time this season that we have won by that scoreline, perhaps it’s time to change the age old “One-Nil to the Arsenal” chant?!
I could have literally just dug out my post on the QPR game and made three simple changes and voila! I’d have had a brand new blog post. All I’d have to do was replace the words QPR with NUFC with a simple ‘control + f’, replace Charlie Austin for Sissoko and adjust the timing of the goal to “the opening of the second half” rather than “the dying minutes”. I doubt most people would have spotted the difference.
Why is that teams that are clearly inferior seem to think that they can claw it back against the Arsenal?
Though they rarely ever accomplish the task; but what is it that gives them the hope that it is possible?
The only mitigating factor was the overall fatigue level of the squad which had just returned from annual tragicomic attempt at European glory after floundering against Monaco over two legs and allowing the painfully average French team through. Our generosity truly knows no bounds.
Something just occurred to me: Holy cow! Are we European football’s Hipsters?
For now, I want to banish Europe to the farthest recesses of my mind and focus on finishing as high as possible in the Premier league and defending the FA cup. A second place finish is still on the cards provided Manchester City fluffs their lines once again and we are but two victories away from Arsene lifting the world’s for the sixth time, something that no other manager in the history of the game has managed. That being said, we shall probably be facing Liverpool FC in the finals who will be desperate to send their last club hero out with a trophy in his hand. Arsenal SHOULD ensure that any notions of Gerrard lifting a trophy are squashed into nothingness between rock hard concrete of Giroud’s abs and the hard place that is Coquelin’s nasal passage.
Ok ok, that came out wrong, just don’t picture that…or do, if you swing that way. Glossing over that errant piece of unintentional homo-eroticism like I was saying beating the resurgent Reds will be no mean feat.
Seriously, how would the opposition not shit themselves, if Francis strode out clad in that? As a bonus it would protect that fragile snout of his too. Hell, I can already picture him planting his feet into Henderson’s midriff Leonidas style while screaming: “THIS IS ASHBURTON GROVE!” Someone get that boy a war helmet STAT!
At St. James Park, a plethora of chances were created in the first half and Giroud capitalized on two them to put us forward. The first was an opportunistic strike off his left knee, a true poacher’s goal! The cross was turned in by Welbeck and Giroud instinctively guided it to the bottom corner. The second was a trade mark OG header: holding off Mike Williamson with childish ease to smoothly deflect Cazorla’s cross into the far corner.
Suffice to say, Giroud had a fun-filled evening against a team he is rather fond of bullying.
An interesting observation was that over the last few games Alexis has varied his style: where Chile’s version at a hyperactive honey badger once looked to cut in from the wings and shoot, he now stops short and often looks for a strategic pass. The number of shots on target has reduced and the somewhat disgruntled ratel looks like has been explicitly instructed to look for creative passes rather than focus on finding the goal directly. I’m not certain that this a good move, but time will tell of its effectiveness in the longer run. Alexis, though ran out of stream later as his fatigue was made evident. It is hard to believe that this is only his first season in the league, he is already a lynchpin of the squad and his influence will only wax over the coming seasons. Long live our psychotic Chilean Honey Badger!
Welbeck too had an interesting game; he was restless and relentless, harrying the Magpies with his pace and willing to make runs until their defence looked ready to drop. After many years of being subjected to Theo’s infuriating habit of hiding behind opposition defenders and his annoyingly one dimensional attacking play, it is truly refreshing to see a forward who is actually willing to run at defences and try to get into dangerous positions before expecting a pass to be made; rather than standing around and simply waiting for the opposition to push forward so that the space behind a defensive high line can be exploited. Its hard not to like Danny; he lacks the pomposity and entitlement that Walcott so often displays in spite of having little or no impact after nine (Yes! NINE!) years at the club.
Now for the other shoe: For all his incisive runs, Welbeck has the shooting ability of a clam. He constantly does the difficult portions perfectly and seems to get his feet in a muddle at the very last second. It is obvious why Wenger chose to buy Welbeck: the Henryesque overtones are evident, the pace, the power and the sheer force of will to burst past bewildered defenders. Many would argue that he lacks the magic that made Henry, Henry; but magic is simply the product of hard-work and tireless effort on the pitch. Practice makes perfect and perfection is what creates the illusion of “magic”.
If Danny doesn’t work on his finishing and final ball, he could just end up another flash in the English pan. Talent and natural ability is essential, but those attributes alone are not enough to make it at the highest level. At the uppermost echelons of the game, the difference between success and failure is truly minuscule.
Historically speaking, the mentality to constantly improve and remain on top of one’s game is not common among English players when compared to their European and South American counterparts. Some times I think that it is their Englishness that causes so much complacency and instills a laissez-faire attitude at a juncture when hunger is critical to development. Welbeck will turn 25 this year and is no longer a youngster per se; the clock is ticking!
Next up is the long and boring wait through a series of pointless international games until we take on the Reds at home. I’ll be back with a preview for the game… until them, stay Arsenalized!
Are a Walcott fan? Or perhaps you hate Welbeck? Or the author of this piece? Call him a dumb-ass (or any other colorful invective) in the comments section below!