Monthly Archives: December 2013

Three points today vital for a number of reasons

Most important man on the field today – Mesut Ozil

Hello and good afternoon readers. Today we play probably the most crucial game so far this season for a number of reasons. Arguably the Dortmund, Napoli or even Everton fixtures were more important, however I can’t help but feel that due to recent results the pressure and focus is all on this one. We play against Mourinho’s Chelsea at the Emirates who have been having a bit of a yo-yo season up until now.

On one hand a win today would put them joint top whereas a loss will mean they’re five points behind. Couple that with their hilarious cup exit to Stoke and you seem to get a picture of how their season is going.

As for Arsenal, a huge run of form has meant we’ve been at the top for a large part of the season now. We’re currently sitting in third with both Liverpool and City above us respectively, however a win today would ensure we go two points clear of them both – again highlighting the importance of this fixture.

The thing is it’s not the end of the league chances if we lose because the reality is we’d still only be one point off the top. Consider the fact that we have probably the easiest run out of the top clubs for the next handful of games and it’s not a worry to only have to gain one point. However I can’t help but feel winning today is vital for reasons other than the league table.

Firstly, we need to beat Mourinho. Despite Wenger playing down the history between the two, it’s a fact that we’re yet to get three points over him. That’s because the twat seems to park the bus every single time he comes to the Emirates. It’s an embarrassing tactic which seems to work again and again, even just to grab a point. We can’t expect any different tomorrow – we need to get that win on the board.

Secondly, we need to get every one of those embarrassing clueless pundits to stop using that shitty statement “Arsenal can’t win the big games.” It’s fucking annoying. We beat Sp*rs, Liverpool (who currently sit top), Napoli and Dortmund and they’ve still got the audacity to say that? Fucking moronic bellends.

Lastly, and most importantly, because we deserve it. We have easily been the most in form team this season. The anti-Gooners said we’d struggle to make top four, that we had no chance of the title and that Wenger had lost it – yet we’re the ones that have held the top spot for longest. We need to make a statement today, we need to say “we are the main contenders, if you don’t count us your clueless.”

Wenger acknowledged these questions as to whether or not we’re genuine contenders and said

At the moment everybody still questions us. We haven’t won it [the Premier League] for a long time, that’s why they question us.

We’re without a trophy for nine years now, which is too long for a club of Arsenal’s stature. The stadium move helped towards producing such a drought no doubt, however Wenger feels that the lack of trophies doesn’t play on his mind, more the lack of the big ones, saying

It’s not without winning a trophy, it’s without winning the Premier League, If you win the League Cup it doesn’t change anything.

It’s the Premier League that is the most important thing and we haven’t won it for nine years. Of course it doesn’t strengthen your belief.

The longer you go without winning the league the harder it becomes, but this team of players will be feeling hungry and determined to get it this season. There’s a lot of pressure on today’s fixture, it isn’t going to be an easy game whatsoever. But if they can’t handle the pressure of a December home fixture against a transitional Chelsea, then how can they have the belief that come March things will be any easier? Especially when other teams are coming into form, we’re on the back of our dreaded fixture list and we’re facing tired legs and exhausted minds.

The squad tonight I imagine will be much like the squad used against City but with two obvious replacements. Koscielny will be replaced by Vermaelen due to his rather nasty slice on his knee and Wilshere will be left out as part of his two match ban for giving the City fans the finger. Vermaelen has been saying all season he’s waiting for his time – well this is it. If he wants to give Wenger a serious selection headache when Koscielny returns then he needs to be an absolute beast at the back today.

As for the rest of the squad it seems the biggest boost is the return of German striker Lukas Podolski. The boss spoke about having him back and said

It’s a big boost because he can score goals in big games. He has shown that before. He is a clinical finisher and a great football player.

I can imagine he’ll feature from the bench due to the lack of match fitness, however his importance cannot be underestimated. He was an efficient player last season, notching up 17 goals and 11 assists for the club. That efficiency will be a useful tool in the latter stages of the game when we’re looking for somebody to create something for the team. Besides, don’t we all love Lukas? I do, I mean the guy is on my home shirt for a reason!

One player who will be the game changer today though is Mesut Ozil. The German used to play under Mourinho and definitely has a lot of love for the man, so it’ll be interesting to see how he plays against him. I can imagine Mourinho will be playing mind games in the tunnel before the game, but Ozil needs to show he’s professional and mature enough to deal with them and the occasion itself. If he can deliver an amazing performance today, we’ll win by a large margin. If he’s fairly unknown then he’d still probably get an assist or a goal – but would that be enough? We’ll see.

Last thing before I go, just to put a smile on your face. Wenger was quizzed in the conference about being busy in January, in which he said

At the moment, no.

Before showing his trademark “something up my sleeve” grin and saying

But that can change.

Exciting stuff.

Anyway, that’s a few weeks away yet so let’s keep our minds completely focused on the game. My predictions are a close 2-1 win, because Mourinho will prevent any free-flowing, enjoyable, fun football but we’ll have the balls and maturity to find a way to seal the three points anyway.

COME ON YOU GOONERS!!!

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Questionable Wilshere ban, new Suarez stuff, Costa on radar and more

The team all dressed up for the Christmas party – can you guess who is who?

Hello and good afternoon all. It’s been a few days since I last wrote (primarily down to the fact I’m still without a Mac) and since then there seems to be a fair bit of Arsenal news to zip through.

We’ll start with the fact that Jack Wilshere has been given a suspension for his gesture to the Man City fans during last weeks game. He basically stuck his middle finger up, effectively telling them to fuck off, and will be banned for two games for doing so. Best two games you could get banned for I say. This means he’ll now be unavailable for Monday’s game against Chelsea and our boxing day clash with West Ham.

It does bring the question though as to where the FA’s mindset lies with punishment. Two games for a heat of the moment finger yet only three were given to Ryan Shawcross for his double leg break on Ramsey? Also, they took the time to rewind the game and study the footage for the sake of a finger to the crowd but what about this horrific tackle from Toure on Giroud? Same game, same footage – no action. They’re basically saying “we have an interest in swearing but tackles are aloud”. It’s a bit baffling to me but hey that’s what happens when a team of 70-year-olds are left to decide modern footballing laws.

In other news I found out the other day just how close we were to signing Luis Suarez in the summer. To cut a long story short, Liverpool were inches away from getting replacement Diego Costa to the point where the deal rested on the sale of Suarez. They offered him to us at the end of the window and we rejected. Now, I don’t know why we rejected – perhaps Wenger didn’t want to sign two world class players in the same window. However, it does make you dream if he’d have just said yes. Imagine Ozil and Suarez on the same day… excuse me whilst I drool.

Anyway, it didn’t happen and that’s that. We’re still monitoring Suarez and his new contract is nothing more than him and his agent getting that controversial release clause on paper, however I can’t pretend I have any confidence in another deal materializing. Rumours are we’ve now turned our attention to the very man that Liverpool saw as his replacement – Diego Costa.

From a economical point of view it makes sense. Go for Suarez and we’ll be wrestling with Madrid which will inevitably cost us a fortune or will mean we lose out. Go for Costa and we get somebody who has a £32m release clause and is pretty impressive. From a technical point of view, he’s scored 21 goals and got two assists in 19 appearances so far this year, is strong in the air which makes him fit our current mould up top and he’s also a clinical finisher – something which Giroud isn’t.

Also I can’t help but feel that South American strikers seem to be key at the moment. Look at the vast amount of quality strikers that have come from South America recently – Falcao, Cavani, Suarez, Aguero, Neymar, Diego Costa, Tevez and so many more. They seem to be doing something right, so let’s take a punt on Costa and see if he adopts the same success.

Wenger said quite positive words of him actually back in November, saying

He had already grabbed my attention last year through his determination, his strength to move forward.

He also possesses technical quality and a cool head when carrying out his finishing touches.

The departure of [Radamel] Falcao has given him space. The team plays for him and we can see all the talent he possesses.

There is something animal in his determination, in his hunger. You can feel that he is a player who, before arriving at a very high level, has fed his thirst and his hunger.

It does make you wonder, ay?

In smaller transfer news I’ve heard we’re looking at 19-year-old Kurt Zouma in January to come in and be our fourth choice centre-back. The Frenchman is highly regarded by Wenger and would probably cost around £10m. I personally can’t see it happening but a bit of transfer gossip never hurts.

I’ve also heard that question marks currently surround Rosicky’s future. The Czech Republic international has his contract expiring at the end of the season and I’m under the belief Wenger would rather a new player in the mould of Draxler or Reus rather than an extension of Tomas’s contract. It’s hard because I love him but the reality is he’s 33-years-old and we’re a top club. He can definitely offer something this year but a one or two year extension brings him into his mid 30’s and I don’t know about you but I’m not keen on joining the United bandwagon of keeping players years past their sell by date.

Wenger had his usual pre-match conference yesterday but I won’t go into discussing the ins and outs of it just yet. I’ll leave his comments on standby until either tomorrow or Monday where I’ll have a full blog on the Chelsea game and my thoughts surrounding it. For today let’s just enjoy our weekend and look forward to what will hopefully be an early Christmas present.

Until then.

Tough fixtures and ties? That’s what Arsenal are about!

Celebrations for Theo's first against City

Celebrations for Theo’s first against City

Good afternoon guys and gals. Last time I blogged was a few days ago prior to the Man City game where I felt it was a game we could certainly get something from. I did not in any way anticipate a final result of losing 6-3, however I don’t think that was a fair reflection of the game at all.

I am somebody that hates to pass the buck for your own failures or put one or two decisions down to the reason you’ve dropped points. If you lose 2-1 at home and you blame the referee because he missed one penalty, really and truly it doesn’t matter because you should be winning regardless. However it’s hard not to feel like both the linesmen and referee cost us that game.

Two goals from Giroud and Bendtner unfairly ruled offside, two clear goal-scoring opportunities cancelled out from again, offsides that weren’t offsides. A penalty which so blatantly hits the arm and would have otherwise fed a player through on goal – not given. That’s five chances that could have easily thrown the game in our favour.

When you’re playing a team like City, then you score to bring the scoreline within touching distance again only for a decision like that to be taken away is hard enough to deal with. Yet alone five times. The referee was awful, his fellow officials were too, and regardless of whether or not City put six past us I don’t think we deserved to lose that game. A draw at the very least.

From a defensive point of view we were appalling and so were they. We both decided to just go for it, leaving ourselves completely exposed at the back but incredibly strong going forward and it’s no surprise that in doing so there was over 20 chances in the game between us. It was a good game for the neutrals but a load of shit to watch for us.

Anyway, the game is over now, we lost three points, we’re still top albeit by two points and now we face Chelsea at home on Monday. I was feeling confident of a win until it was announced that Mike Dean would be the official for the game. We talk about poor officials against City and then rather than getting a bit of luck in our next fixture we get stuffed with the biggest anti-Arsenal cunt in football. Seriously in our last 15 fixtures where he’s refereed we’ve only won once, drew five times and lost nine – how does that give us any confidence in a massive game like Chelsea?

So, this morning although I’d like to be feeling optimistic, I’m just not. If we want to be top at Christmas we absolutely have to beat Chelsea, because a draw will most likely leave us behind Liverpool on goal difference. This is a must win on the back of an Everton last minute draw, a 2-0 Napoli away loss and a 6-3 Man City away loss. The odds aren’t in our favour, especially when you consider Wenger has never won a fixture against Mourinho.

But hey, isn’t this what football is about? Especially Arsenal? When all odds are against us we seem to prevail. We’re the ultimate back-against-the-wall team. We have the ability to do something special whenever we play and to beat anybody and everybody. We can beat Chelsea, we can stay top and we can continue our strong run way into the New Year.

And to be honest, we’re going need it with the fixtures we’re facing. Firstly before I go into it the list itself lets talk about the fact we drew Bayern Munich again in the next round of the Champions League. Bit of a blow when you consider the fact that Dortmund drew Zenit in their next tie but hey ho. The fixture itself has a massive silver lining regardless of the result.

If we win the tie, we get confidence and belief from beating last years Champions and that could enable us to go far in the competition and league. If we lose the tie, we lose confidence but we also gain focus on the league – something that will hugely benefit us over the other teams. So as tough as a tie it is, it’s not all negative, we can take positives from any results.

However the dates in which the ties take place are far from ideal. These are the three fixtures before we play the first leg at home on Wednesday 19th February:

Saturday 8th February – Liverpool (A)
Wednesday 12th February – Man Utd (H)
Saturday 15th February – FA Cup 5th Round

Then a few weeks later, we play them on Tuesday 11th March away in Munich before taking on:

Saturday 15th March – Sp*rs (A)
Saturday 22nd March – Chelsea (A)
Saturday 29th March – Man City (H)

The honest truth is that we have a huge few months ahead but prior to these terrible run-ins we have a fairly decent amount of games in which we can take many points from. By the time we even face Liverpool we could be top by a pretty good margin and go their full of confidence knowing we can do well in this run.

And realistically we can. Liverpool never do well against us, Utd are shit this year and we’re at home so we should accept nothing but three points there. The FA Cup 5th round depends on who we draw but why can’t we qualify? Then we play Bayern at home – again with the belief that we can and should beat them in front of our home crowd.

A small patch of easier games after that leaves us to face Sp*rs at Shite Hart Lane which again we’ll be looking to win. By that point we should have a good enough gap to go to Chelsea believing a result isn’t important and then again look to win our home game against City.

It’s a tough fixture list, we won’t win it all, but we can and we should damn hell try. It’ll make our break our season and this year in particular feels like one of great things so let’s just go out there and do it.

However the fact of the matter is these games are long in the distance and for now we need to focus on Chelsea on Monday – because if we can get the three points then we’ll most certainly stay top for Christmas.

No matter what that useless incapable fucktard Mike Dean says about it.

Cunt.

Napoli thoughts, Man City today and Sagna contract extension

Jack, Per and Ramsey in training yesterday

Jack, Per and Ramsey in training yesterday

For all those wondering as to why I’ve not blogged the last couple of days it’s basically because I got a new job. This meant I had to give my Mac back to my company which of course meant I had nothing to blog on. I don’t get a new Mac until the New Year when I start my new job so until then I’m only able to blog on my Mum’s computer! Whilst on the subject of blogging, I don’t think I’ll be able to blog as often with the new job due to the amount of work I’ll be doing, so it’ll be likely that I’ll blog a handful of times a week. Usually before and after games and midweek if there’s no football on!

Anyway, back to the Arsenal. Let’s first address the Napoli game. It was a relatively shit game in fairness. We didn’t really look like we went all out to try and get the draw at all, we almost sat back and contained our opponent in hope of either a 0-0 or where both sides sneak a goal and get a 1-1. That plan went out the window when Arteta was rather harshly sent off for a second foul. Now to be fair Arteta should have known better, but the reality is Napoli had a player do much worse on a yellow in the first half which should have got a second booking. Not to mention one chap who made about six fouls and never saw a card either. It changed the game and to be honest that referee was poor all night. The cunt.

My feeling after the game was that the side was almost too overconfident. They seemed to give a little less effort – perhaps because they had one eye on Man City today and wanted to save energy – because they felt they’d get a point regardless. Napoli are a good side and showed it, which is why we lost 2-0. At the end of the day we lost the game, finished second in our group and now have one of PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Atletico Madrid to play in the next round. Joy.

I’m hoping for Atletico or PSG, but not because they’re easy sides at all, as they’re not. However they are sides that we could definitely beat over two legs down to the fact we have a better team chemistry than them both. Real Madrid, Bayern and Barca have all had effectively the same team for a few years and are all serious contenders for the competition – that’s why I’d like to avoid them. Of course sods law will pitch us against probably the hardest opponent but hey ho, that’s our fault for not drawing against Napoli.

The reality is though we don’t have to play the next round until mid to late February so now our attention needs to be on the league. Today we play against City away in a 12:45 kick off which is relatively unfair considering the players didn’t get back until 4am Thursday morning from Napoli. That leaves us little or no time at all to prepare for the fixture. Man City however played Tuesday and rested six of their first team players, so they’ll have energy on their side.

The difference though, is that we’re The Arsenal. We’re used to defying the odds and used to fighting our way out of any corner we back ourselves in. We’re top of the league by five points and flying high and to be fair City have always struggled against us. They’re a top, top side at home but there’s no reason we can’t get at least a point today.

Wenger thinks it’s important that we make a statement today and believes we can do considering our consistency away from home, saying

It is important, how important I don’t know, but it is important, we have been very consistent away from home.

The only blip we had was at Manchester United and people forget that United had two shots on target on the day and they scored a goal off a shoulder from a corner.

But on the day, I believe we were not completely ourselves offensively and that’s what we want to do better [at City] – be dangerous offensively.

Take the game to City and they’ll shit their pants. Sit back and we’re in for a tanking. In my eyes it isn’t any more straightforward than that. We have to just go for it, give every single bit of energy we have knowing that afterwards we have a lovely nine day break to recover for Chelsea. We also have a few players that didn’t really feature against Napoli that can certainly help us today – Ramsey, Wilshere and Walcott could all feature either from the start or in the latter stages of the game.

The one question mark for me is Sagna. The boss said that he’s optimistic of a return but not certain. I think it’s absolutely vital we play him because I can just see Jenkinson being rinsed by Aguero if not. They’re a top quality side, Jenkinson is a good player but he’s not that good – yet. The experience and calmness of Sagna cannot be underestimated. Besides, if we do plan to use Walcott at some stage I think the boss will be less inclined if his cover is Jenko rather than Sagna – there’s 10 years playing experience between the two, that’s a huge difference.

Whilst on Sagna, the boss was asked about the possibility of extending his contract – due to run out at the end of the season – and said

Yes, that could be decided in next two weeks. It looks positive. It would be a great boost, of course.

That’d be welcomed news before the New Year because Sagna is one player I love. He gives 100% every game, he works hard, he’s disciplined, experienced and very rarely makes mistakes. He had a terrible time last year where myself included where calling for his head – but I think it was obviously down to his two leg breaks because this season he’s been fantastic. Give that man a two year contract and the league title to thank him! Hopefully we’ll get confirmation of it over the next two weeks like Wenger says.

Anyway, my prediction for today is a difficult one to make. I honestly think it’ll be one of three results: a 2-1 win, a 2-2 draw or a 3-1 defeat. My heart is saying the win but my head is saying the draw.

Let’s hope my heart is right – come on you Gooners!

Vital that we don’t lose tonight – we must top our group

Kos the boss happy to keep Higuain and Callejon in his pocket tonight

Kos the boss happy to keep Higuain and Callejon in his pocket tonight

Champions League night tonight and the first of our three tough ties over the next two weeks. We travel away to Italy where we’ll play Napoli and aim to be getting at least a draw. If we avoid a defeat of over three goals then we qualify, but ideally we want either a point or a win to guarantee we go top of the group. It’s important that we top the group because it’ll give us a better chance of drawing a weaker opponent in our next round.

The squad news ahead of the game seems pretty straightforward. It’s the same team available as we had against Everton on Sunday but I expect there to a few small changes. The boss hinted at rotating but not a massive amount, highlighting the importance of stability in a fixture like this. He said

I cannot afford to do that [rotate]. We will try to rotate a little bit at times, but never more than two or three players because the stability of the side is so important.

At the moment we have a stable squad. In some positions I rotate more than others where the stability is important.

But overall we have no major signs of fatigue medically.

The boss is clearly pointing out that the spine of our team won’t be changed in a fixture like this. We’re not looking to underestimate Napoli as they’re a top side, so keeping our key players involved is necessary if we want to get the result we need to top our group. I can imagine the starting lineup will be effectively the same but players like Monreal, Walcott and Rosicky might start opposed to appearing from the bench.

When we played Napoli at home we dominated them in a game which we saw probably the most impressive performance in a long time from Arsenal. If we carry the confidence from that game as well as the mentality and focus, we’ll be more than capable of getting a draw tonight. In all honesty I’m feeling confident of a win, probably 2-1 but after conceding against Everton I’m thinking 2-0 – because Per and Kos will be angry to have lost a clean sheet.

Should we top the group we have a number of teams we could potentially face that will all present their challenges. Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus or Galatasaray, Olympiacos, Basel or Schalke, Zenit or Porto or finally AC Milan or Ajax. There are no easy opponents once you get into the knockout stages however you’d have to say that Olympiacos, Basel or Schalke, Zenit and Porto or Ajax are one of the teams you’d prefer to be drawn against.

On the flip side if we don’t top our group we’ll have to play one of Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in the next round – I guess that greatly highlights the importance of tonights game. We also get the added bonus that Dortmund would likely finish second and therefore have to play one of those teams and also Man City will have to as well. Meaning that inevitably two strong teams will be eliminated in the next round and give us an even greater chance of progressing.

Anyway, all we can do is wait and see what happens. As I mentioned earlier we can certainly get the result we need, it’s just no way going to be easy. We cannot afford to lose and we don’t want to be aiming for a draw – we want a win. That’s as simple as it gets.

Come on you Gooners!

Ozil is a happy bunny and so are we

Great shot of the Emirates the other night

Great shot of the Emirates the other night

I had a dream last night where I somehow met a solid contact within the club and he revealed the most startling news to me – that Mesut Ozil was insanely unhappy and would most likely leave in January. I was gutted, shocked and upset. I just couldn’t and didn’t want to believe it was true. When I awoke to realise it was a dream – heck a nightmare – I was relieved and looked for something to comfort me.

Fortunately I remembered that a few days ago he did an interview with the press explaining that he’s really proud to be part of the club. He said

I’m really proud to be part of this Arsenal family here.

As a footballer, we’re out and about, on the road all of the time, it’s great to just stop for a moment, see these things.

It’s actually what I said right when I joined Arsenal. When people tried to convince me when I came here, it was that family spirit at Arsenal which convinced me mainly. This is exactly part of that, what we’ve seen here.

I think the family vibe at the club is something we all love as fans. As a person I’ve always felt the morals and beliefs at the club are exactly what correlate with my personal values as a person. Producing success and earning reward, not buying it. Charity work with The Arsenal Foundation and countless others such as Teenage Cancer Trust and Save the Children. Playing football the right way and sticking to your philosophies no matter what. The family element is something I love too, and it’s great that Ozil has felt that so quickly.

Ozil continued, speaking of his admiration for Wenger, saying

He was the one who convinced me to come here and now I can say that I couldn’t be any happier than to be here, he really loves ­football. I hope he will stay here for many more years and be successful.

I think this really has been the perfect step for me to come and join this club. We have some very talented players here and this is why I think we can achieve something great.

We have to develop further to achieve this, but we can do it.

Everybody that reads my blog knows I’m very pro-Wenger and completely support him. We’re not top of the league by luck and we sure as hell haven’t bought our success. People forget that over the last eight years or so it’s been somewhat unstable at the club. We haven’t won trophies but if you consider that we had Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie, Adebayor, heck even Hleb, Flamini and Adebayor too all in our ranks to eventually leave, then it’s no wonder we struggled.

Nobody can deny that if we had all them together over the past eight years we’d probably have won something. All that blame doesn’t sit with the manager, the majority of them were cunts and that’s just what cunts do – screw over people. Even their club, or as we’ve established, your family. To win the league you need stability, which is why I was confident of a title challenge before the season even started – because we have stability over the other clubs around us. It’s not a surprise that Liverpool are doing well, because they have been together with the same manager for over a year now.

Anyway, it’s all something to think about and consider. I’m happy Ozil is happy and even happier that he realises the very special potential this current team has. With one or two more additions in January and/or the summer, we’ll be on our way to becoming a modern day super club. But anyway, that’s all something for the future, really all we can do is focus on the here and now.

The reality is we’re currently top and the pack behind are crumbling. We don’t even seem like we need to step up our game this year to win the league, more just stay united and grind out the results and the other teams will self-destruct around us. Take every game as it comes, get the points on the board and I think we can seriously win the league.

And that’s a great thought, don’t ya think?

Toughest game this season and a tougher two weeks ahead

Ozil celebrating his goal yesterday

Ozil celebrating his goal yesterday

After yesterday’s game Mikel Arteta was interviewed and gave some high praise to Everton, saying

I think in the second half we were on top of the game but credit to Everton, they have been the best side we have played this season in the Premier League.

Some will say that he’s only said such words because they’re his former club but even Mertesacker said the same, saying

I think that was the toughest game we have been through the whole season, they pressed us high up, all the way through from the start until the end.

We couldn’t play that much and in the second half everything was possible on both sides, with chances here and there so I think it was a fair result.

Still not convinced? How about Flamini too, he said

But I would say [Everton are] one of the greatest teams we’ve played since the beginning of the season. [Everton are] a very solid team and really good quality also. So it was a tough game, there a bit of frustration but a draw is OK.

When you have three experienced players in Arteta, Mertesacker and Flamini saying how tough it was you can’t disagree. You’ve got to give it to Everton, they deserve all the praise today. From the first minute to the last they were fantastic and although we’ll be feeling a little frustrated to not have gone top by seven points, really and truly it was a hard earned draw for both teams and as Per rightly points out – a fair result.

Their goal wasn’t fair though, because as replays show Lukaku was both offside and the culprit of a foul. However we can’t sit back and blame that this morning because the reality is they deserved something from the game. Besides, even if the referee or his assistant didn’t see it we shouldn’t be conceding the goal anyway. You can’t fault our defence because they were flawless all game, however we really shouldn’t have been letting him get a shot off for that goal.

Regardless, the important thing is that today we sit five points at the top of the table and that in itself is a great position to be in. If you asked Gooners after the Villa game would you be happy if by December 9th we’d be top by five points with United 13 points below us in 9th place, I think everybody’s answer would have been a simple yes. Nobody can complain that we drew yesterday because we’re still top and top by a pretty good margin too.

Wenger was asked in his post-match conference if this Arsenal side are serious title contenders and said

It depends what you call serious. As long as we are five points ahead you cannot rule ourselves out even with the best desire. So let’s keep that cushion. It shows you that it will be a tough Premier League and the consistency in the end will be rewarded. The consistency for us is down to us to keep this attitude until the end of the season.

Our consistency against the teams outside of the top four is what will decide the league and so far this year we’ve had a remarkable knack of getting the three points against those exact sides. A hard thought point against Everton isn’t the end of your chances, in fact they’re quite the opposite. Those types of games can actually win you the league, not because of the added point but the psychological advantage of not losing.

Now we face three massive fixtures over the next two weeks in which we’ll really be tested from front to back. We play Napoli away on Wednesday before flying back home for an inconvenient early kick off against Man City on Saturday morning. We then finally have a nine day gap and take on Chelsea at home.

Realistically you can’t help but feel that Napoli should be a chance to rest the players that have given a lot but offer chances to those returning. I’m not saying by any means play a second team but players like Ramsey, Ozil and Cazorla who have given a lot could be swapped for Walcott, Rosicky and Arteta/Flamini. That’ll still give us a great chance of winning the game but also gives those three a well-deserved break ahead of the City clash.

That game will be one of huge difficulty though because they’re absolutely solid at home. When you consider they’ll have a day extra to recover due to playing their Champions League tie against Bayern on the Tuesday, the game is made even harder for us. A nine day break will be welcome after that but as history shows we usually struggle against Mourinho sides – regardless of whether or not we’re home or away.

We need to be aiming to beat Napoli and Chelsea and getting something, if anything, from City. Six points out of nine as a minimum is an achievable target but one which will require complete focus, determination and brilliance to pull off.

In smaller news it seems we’ve been drawn against Tottenham at home for the third round of the FA Cup which will take place on Saturday 4th January. Although it’d have been nice to get an easier game so early in the draw we can’t complain because it means a) we’re through to the next round and b) Tottenham will go out of the competition. Fuck of you Sp*rs.

I’ve also heard that Abou Diaby considered retirement due to his ongoing injury problems however Wenger has convinced him to carry on. It’s a shame that it’s happened to him but in all honesty I think we need to cut our losses and say goodbye. Van Persie might have shown you can one day regain fitness but even his legs weren’t as knackered as ol’ Vassiriki Abou Diaby. I think our league is too demanding and physical for someone like Diaby to come in and be effective straight away. He needs six months or longer in a more relaxed league where he can find his fitness and rebalance his muscles and then return, because whatever we’re trying now isn’t working at all.

Anyway, that’s something for him and the manager to think about. For now let’s turn our attention to a tough fixture in Naples on Wednesday and enjoy the fact that we’re top of the league by five points!