Good morning all. I say that not because it’s a Monday – because we all hate Mondays – but because this particular Monday is the day after an impressive 2-1 victory against Liverpool in the quarter-final of the FA Cup. Let’s face it, an Arsenal win always makes the next day more bearable.
Before I get into the game though how about we discuss the one mid-week that took the majority of the focus ahead of the game. We played against a lacklustre Man Utd side where both teams were looking to bounce back from disappointments with a big win – however it seemed as though that was the exact reason neither did.
I won’t spend a while talking about the game because there’s quite frankly, nothing to talk about. It was a dull game where it felt as though Moyes had picked up the game prior to the game and gave José a call. I can imagine it went something like this
Moyes: Errr, José? Is that The Special One?
Mourinho: Ergh. What now Moyes? I hope you’re calling me to tell me you want to sell us Fat Boy Wayne?
Moyes: No, no. I call for your help. How do you win at the Emirates?
Mourinho: Ah, you need advice ay? Well it’s simple – put all of your team in your own box and try and take the one or two chances you get.
Moyes: Ok brilliant. Will you maybe be my assistant? We can win major trophies together!
Mourinho: Go home Moyes, you’re drunk. You cannot win shit with that team. I am The Special One, not The Miracle Maker. Cunt.
It looks as though the tactics worked to an extent. Man Utd sure did limit our chances at goal but misses from Giroud, Cazorla and a few others made it feel like we really could have found a goal had we’ve been a little more clinical. Equally though, Man Utd had one or two chances to break the deadlock too, but not for poor finishing from van Persie (hahahahahahahahaha cunt!) and a great save from Szczesny meant it finished 0-0.
After the game there were boos from the crowd which I didn’t quite understand. I know we’d have all liked to win, particularly considering Man Utd’s poor form this season, but in hindsight it’s not a bad point. We got thrashed by Liverpool, we looked tired, played nervously and hand a focus on not conceding than scoring. How do you think a loss would have gone down? Not great I imagine.
When you consider we got one point from Liverpool and Man Utd it makes you feel a little disappointed, but compare that to the fact City got one point from Chelsea and Norwich and I can’t help but feel like the fan reaction was a little overdramatic. When you consider that we’re only one point off the top and Man Utd are about 15+ points below us, yet none of their fans booed, it makes it all the more ridiculous.
A few days later and we’re drawn against a high-flying Liverpool side in the FA Cup Fifth Round. After a battering last week the squad wanted to make amends, with Wenger confidentially saying before the game “it is the first team we want to play.”
I did say prior to the game I couldn’t help but feel a 2-1 win would be on the cards and my feeling turned out to be correct. Arsenal are great at responding and would have wanted to prove that the 5-1 loss was more of a bad day in the office then a deserved result. Yesterday I felt we were clear winners (even though Liverpool would reject that statement) but the win isn’t the greatest thing about the result.
I loved how yesterday we was under pressure to win, particularly at home. We needed to qualify because there’s a real sense we can go on to win this competition and Wenger would have had one eye firmly on Wednesday’s tie against Bayern too. He decided to rest Szczesny, Gibbs, Sagna, Wilshere, Rosicky, Cazorla and Giroud in favour of Fabianski, Monreal, Jenkinson, Flamini, Podolski, Oxlade and Sanogo and it turned out to be the correct call. Every one of the players that came in did a fantastic job and the win was all the more sweeter when Liverpool played their best players and were still unable to score a goal from open play.
Goals from Oxlade and Podolski gave us a 2-0 lead before Lukas then went on to give away a sloppy penalty and allow Gerrard to pull Liverpool back into the game. From then on we both had brief spells of possession with both teams looking dangerous but Liverpool were very much limited to half chances whilst we waited for the game to draw to an end. The final whistle went and Liverpool were out, Arsenal were through and we now take on Everton in the next round at home.
After the game there was a large amount of toys being thrown out of prams across the Liverpool fan base and squad. Even Brendan Rodgers had a little moan in the conference afterwards. The reason was because Suarez and Oxlade had a little coming together and Suarez quite frankly got bossed off the ball. Other people referred to it as a stone-wall penalty but I think those are forgetting it’s a contact sport and Suarez is a diving cheat. Also, they had their fair amount of luck from the referee too with Gerrard being incredibly lucky not to escape with a second yellow after a harsh tackle later in the game. I don’t think they have the right to complain, they were well beaten, didn’t take their chances and they got some of the decisions their way too. So… fuck off ya Scouse bellends.
Stand-out performers for me were Fabianski, Oxlade and Sanogo. Fabianski barely made a mistake all game, pulling off some fantastic saves and having great ball control throughout. It made you realise that we do probably have the best second choice goalkeeper in the league, which is all the more disappointing that he’s likely to leave in the summer.
Oxlade continued his fine form notching up a well taken finish and a sublime assist for Podolski. He’s growing in every game and showing a real maturity with his football. You only have to look at the fact Arsenal’s last five goals to see his involvement. Three goals were scored by him, another assisted and a penalty in which he won. He won the Man of the Match award and rightly so – he was excellent.
Yaya Sanogo however was the most impressive player for me. In the summer everybody wanted a big name and he became a bit of a scapegoat and laughing stock because he was another ‘typical Wenger buy’. All the criticism was unjust because he hadn’t really had a chance to do anything yet. He’d featured twice from the bench but never started – so credit to Wenger for giving him a chance over Bendtner in such a high pressure fixture.
Sanogo definitely showed in glimpses that he has all the right ingredients to be a very good striker for Arsenal. It’s early days for him I know but if he can come on and perform against Liverpool then he must be half-decent. He used his strength to boss Agger and Skrtel around for the game, linked up well on a number of occasions with our midfield and was a constant danger at goal. Oxlade’s goal was a rebounded effort from a Sanogo volley which actually looked goal bound.
I don’t think he’s world class by any means but if he can continue to produce quality performances like that whenever he’s called upon then there’s a position in the squad for him in my eyes. Bendtner is a good player but he always looks like his head is elsewhere – which is probably due to the fact he’s off in the summer – but Sanogo is a fully committed young player with a point to prove. That can be dangerous and useful in my eyes, especially until the summer where we’ll most likely by another striker anyway.
Speaking of the summer, it looks like it’ll be a busy one for us. Fabianski is most likely off with his contract expiring, there’s also rumours that Vermaelen and Podolski will go due to a lack of playing time, Sagna due to the fact we can’t agree on a contract and as I mentioned earlier Bendtner too. It means that our shopping list will now include two goalkeepers, two centre backs, a right back, a beast in midfield, a winger and a striker. I can’t help but feel we won’t get every one of those because Wenger will want to maintain the squad harmony but it’s hard not to agree that all are absolutely vital.
That’s all for today, I’ll have another blog ahead of Wednesday’s game against Bayern, until then have a gooden.
Tagged: afc, arse, arsenal, bendtner, blog, cazorla, david, fabianski, flamini, gerrard, gibbs, giroud, jenkinson, jose, liverpool, monreal, motes, mourinho, oxlade, podolski, rooney, rosicky, sagna, sanogo, suarez, szczesny, van persie, vermaelen, wilshere, young, youngarse