A Return To Form

Super ATS

I’m back. I’m not sure where I went but here I am.

Also, here are some things I’ve learned this Summer.

  1. Listening to Twitter ITKs (‘in the knows’, for the uninitiated) is not conducive to optimal mental/emotional health. It’s probably safer to ignore all of them, but I’m taking most things these supposed fonts of knowledge spout with a hefty hill of salt from now on.
  2. We do have a good core of players.
  3. Aaron Ramsey (injured now, of course) is a top professional footballer displaying his true qualities in pre-season. All those who doubted him I understand, but all those who sought to abuse him and spread the ‘try-hard’ narrative explicitly should be eating humble pie. Good work, Aaron.
  4. Footballers can magic themselves into a first-team appearance. See: Sebastian Perez (and also good for him).
  5. I really fail to understand our transfer ‘plan’ if there was one…

That’s it. Short and sweet for now. Come say hi on Twitter.

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Arsenal United

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.

The Longest Journey

…must begin where you stand.

And according to me and thousands of others at the Emirates, where Arsahvin was standing was onside. But what is is and the result itself isn’t terrible. We bettered United’s result at Stamford Bridge, much as we did their result the weekend when we drew against Newcastle, and you have to agree with Arsene when he comments that the title is won during 38 games. Not always on the last day of the season, but certainly not in early March. The gap is now three points as it stands and that’s not bad at all.

Liverpool could do us a favour later on today, and with United still to play Chelsea and to come to the Emirates we’re still right in the hunt. Yes it’s frustrating we’re not closer, but what can you do? A draw against Sunderland isn’t the best result, and we had the chances to go one better, but we’re edging closer.

There were some good chances: Bendtner shot from a tight angle in the first half to see Mignolet encourage it over the bar. Nasri’s decent free kick was saved one-handed in the second, and then we hit the bar from a Wilshere cross that found Chamakh’s head. How this wasn’t a penalty on reflection is beyond me, but then perhaps the officials probably didn’t see Bramble’s shove…and don’t have the benefit of hindsight. But there we are. The stats showed we had 14 efforts on goal, half of which were on target, and both of which were double Sunderland’s respective numbers.

A little about the personnel as although we had chances, you’d be hard pushed to have been at yesterdays game and not see that the cut and thrust our captain provides was more parry and block. We should have won without him, but Denilson cut a frustrating figure for much of the game, the ball often bouncing off and squirming away from those Brazilian ankles, while Diaby often held on to the ball for far too long. Perhaps we’re spoilt by Cesc’s effortless space finding and pinged cross field passes, or Song’s solid positioning, cool head and link with our captain, but Denilson and Diaby just didn’t really look confident.

There were chants of “one Aron Ramsey”, and I think some felt he might make an appearance an push us on – fairytale style – to a winner. It just wasn’t going to happen: As I’ve said before, he might be the natural replacement for Cesc in the long run, but with Tomas Rosicky on the bench who, despite what the naysayers might say is perhaps finding his best form for quite some time (finding, not found), it’s not the done thing. Tomas isn’t there yet, but to shunt him behind Ramsey in the pecking order would be slap in the face to a great professional trying his best to have an impact on the season.

Jack Wilshere continues to amaze me just because however the ball comes to him he either gets it under or smartly one-touches it off to a teammate. He’s got a good head for a small guy as well, and is really quite happy nodding on and challenging in the air, with that pace over five yards making all the difference in the middle. Koscielny had as good game, as did Djourou, although the latter seems to have developed a Sol Campbell charging trait, which is fine…when he releases the ball sensibly. Szczsesny…continues to impress, and bring tears to my eyes with those leg-split stretches.

In fact I don’ really have a lot to complain about, apart from the fact that a small step forward yesterday might have been a little bit bigger. We are moving forward though, and there’s legs in the season yet. Let’s just hope that ours are longer than United’s.

ATS