Welcome to ‘Rocky’s Round Up.’ My third look back at the previous months highs and lows from a passionate fans perspective. We began with ‘feel good,’ had a wobble or two, a few wins when not playing so well, always a good sign and ended on a real high. Players to return and a huge November to look forward to with some optimism. After today’s results we are still 5 points clear, yes say it again and louder, WE ARE 5 POINTS CLEAT AT THE TOP OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE!
The feel good factor from the Napoli game continued but it was back to league action against West Brom.
The last few games against the Baggies have been very nerve wrecking to say the least. I was there when we won 3-2 to give us the “fourth placed trophy” in 2012.
All in all I think every one agreed that a draw was a decent result. They had just come off the back of winning at Old Trafford and have players like Sessengon and Anelka that just always seem to play very well against us. The one all draw came courtesy of Jack Wilshere who had a real mixed month. Scored a couple of great goals but I think its fair to say he has struggled at times this season.
When he came into the side in 2010 everything just seemed so easy to him and he gave us that quality on the ball as well as the bite in midfield. It was amazing to watch, I just kept thinking I’m a few months older then this guy and he’s dominating Premier League matches.Unfortunately the injury has set him back. He’s struggling to get away from players with his first few touches like he use to do so well. However it is very important to be patient with him considering the huge amounts of talent he possesses. Think Aaron Ramsey last season and look at him now, in one year’s time or possibly less it could be Jack Wilshere.
The Norwich match a few weeks later was a weird one. I would argue it was one of our poorest displays of the season. The canaries were certainly in the game right until the last ten minutes. I think it highlighted an important thing that this team now has. If we don’t win games based on great team performances then we can rely on a bit of individual brilliance from players to get us through. Two seasons ago we could really only go to Robin Van Persie to give us that bit of magic if needed. That Wilshere goal was one you would score in training and no one would believe you, a form of art if you like. It was followed by Ramsey’s solo effort which allowed us to consolidate the win, sandwiched by Ozil’s first two goals in the premier league.
After the Norwich game, it was back to the Champions League and our biggest test yet with the visit of Borussia Dortmund.
It’s really hard to analyse that game because I don’t think it’s the sort of match people expected. There were very few chances and very few moments of excitement in all honesty. However what you would have to say is we lost that game when we got ourselves in a position where we should not have. We got caught in between trying to win and making sure we didn’t lose. In the end we did neither and Dortmund punished us.
Hard to take because it means we have to go to Germany or Italy and get a result, which we are more then capable of but it certainly makes qualification harder. It is made worse in retrospect when we all know that has we settled for 1-1 we would now still be in control of the group.
A few days later the Crystal Palace match was an absolute must win. They were bottom we were top and we had a few massive games coming up. Despite this we just couldn’t get it going. You could describe it as one of those games-passing was off, little movement and no real energy yet crucially no one who would go behind the last defenders.
When our passing game is on it’s great to watch and not only that we create opportunities. However I do think Theo Walcott comes straight back into the side when he’s fit and this month has showed that to an extent. Yes he’s frustrating at times but he’s also our most dangerous player. The way he times his runs combined with his finishing ability means that even when he’s having one of his off days we can change the game just by finding him with that one pass. He and Podolski will get the best out of Mesut Ozil
We got through the Palace game with goals from Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud and I think at the end relief was the primary feeling of every Arsenal fan.
Our rivalry with Chelsea was continued in the Capital One cup but this was always going to be difficult considering the depth of their squad. So the question was do we match them and play our first team or do we rest our important players for the most crucial part of our season so far.
Despite the media quite bizarrely insisting that we have no injuries, the reality is we have Oxlade- Chamberlain, Podolski, Walcott, and Flamini all on the treatment table, with Cazorla and Arteta only returning earlier in the month. That’s six players who would all have been heavily involved in the first team not available for large parts of the season this season.
If we had most of them fit and were able to rotate our squad a bit more then I would be all for playing a strong team in the League Cup. However due to the circumstances we were in, I personally would have played a similar team to the West Brom match with a very strong bench. As it happens we put out quite a strong starting eleven. It was interesting to view the match because it was the first home game on TV that I watched in my front room and not in the stadium for a good while.
Chelsea deserved to win the game and if you looked past the sloppy goals that we conceded I think the real reason we lost was for basically 90 minutes of football, we did not look like scoring. Our attacking play was very restricted, we seemed edgy and it was you have to say bar a few exceptions, a typical home performance against a big team at the Emirates in the last few years.
For me I do think the crowd does play a part in it. The Emirates fans can be brilliant at times. I’ve witnessed this on many occasions but I don’t think it’s unfair to say that when we do concede the first goal, the crowd can get a bit restless and vocal. These are arguably the times where the players need us most and it’s important that we stay with them. Because no matter how great our away form is we are going to need to win big games at home if we want to win the title. Not to mention losing at home seems to have a lot more negative impact in terms of confidence and mentality.
And that’s why I’m so happy with last night’s victory over Liverpool. Are they a top side? Probably not, but at the end of the day they are playing very well and have two of the best strikers in the league in Suarez and Sturridge.
Looking the part before the match with out suit and ties, during it I thought we were very impressive and the better side. Some players deserve huge credit. Bacary Sagna, after having a really poor season last year has bounced back excellently this campaign. I love his passion to win and is there any real reason why he has not been offered a new deal?
Also Mikel Arteta, who I think was beginning to become a bit underrated by some of us showed just why he is such a good player to have. The Ramsey-Wilshere axis may work in the future but none of those players have the leadership or experience of Arteta and Flamini, which is so vital in these big games. He was everywhere giving no time on the ball to the Liverpool midfielders and was always making himself available when we had possession of the ball.
I certainly reserve praise for Wojciech Szczesny as well. I’m going to ignore that stupid back pass he gave to Daniel Sturridge and say he’s been almost perfect this month. Fair play to him he’s got his head down and looks to becoming the keeper we all though he would. Talk of a new bumper contract is premature, carry on this form and attitude throughout the season and then you will get your rewards.
Overall a decent October for us,(although I know I have sneaked in to November) and I don’t think we played as well as we did in September but the fact that we are five points clear of any side speaks volumes and the manager and players all deserve great credit for that.
An absolutely massive month coming up.
See you all next month. Ryan