Well that was rather nice, eh? I actually felt so bad yesterday morning (self-inflicted) that I very nearly didn’t get vertical to even attend. Working off of far too little sleep for the third consecutive night, I cursed my failure to wash my home shirt, donned my 2004 – 2005 away top and found myself at my seat in the North Bank armed with a Chicken Balti pie and a large Pepsi.
The game was much like those two items: Tasty, with a bit of spice, a rather long glug of refreshment and the desired outcome. Nervous faces surrounded me when we realised Cesc wasn’t available, but with a fresh Rambo to come into the fray I allowed myself a cautious optimism. The boy can play.
And didn’t he? I’ll refer you to my Carling Cup Final post regarding my belief that AR16 is the long term replacement for Cesc, and he certainly proved that yesterday. I don’t really want to talk about the summer just yet, but should “the thing that didn’t happen last summer” actually happen this, knowing Ramsey (along with Song and Wilshere) can perform like they did is a sizable slab of comfort.
Song was involved enough to find himself in the book (perhaps a bit harshly), but both Ramsey and Wilshere were as involved in all things in the centre of the park, and I absolutely love how they’re the first two to jump in here and try to sort out the situation. Not overly involved, just standing their ground and protecting a team-mate. That says it all.
The icing on the cake was Ramsey’s goal. He showed a presence and intelligent manner across the 90 minutes, and just before he slotted home the RVP assist, he nearly waltzed himself inside the United area, confusing three defenders in the process.
In truth, much of the team look assured throughout and, even when we lost Djourou and United had messers Nani, Valencia, Rooney, Berbatov and Owen on the pitch, our resolve was there for all to see. Unfortunately we’ve not had enough of that this season, and the win only provides the faintest whiff of hope that we can still win the title (William Hill has us at 100-1…). But it was the psychological victory that we needed.
I’ve mentioned how players need experience around them to help in tight spots, or they just need to mature themselves, and yesterday’s result is a huge step forward in regards to the latter. True it’s come too late in the season, but that it’s come at all is a massive benefit, putting the squad in a great position for next year when it’s – hopefully – supplemented with those quality, experienced players.
Finally, a brief note about Andrei Arshavin, because a lot of people – myself included – have been giving him stick this season. He put on a real display of determination and work rate yesterday, and for me he’s increased that side of his game hugely in the last couple of months. He’s not had the greatest season, but in going to the games you really notice work-rate regardless of goals and assists.
Although work rate, a goal and a victory together are always nice to enjoy. So I think we should.
P.S: The boos are for the officials.