There were two big pluses to this game: we won and it took us one step closer to the end of the campaign. The performance, however, isn’t much to write home about, so I’ll start with it.
It was dire. It was mind-boggingly dull. If I was a neutral I would have switched the game off after half-time, maybe earlier.
Once again our players looked like they couldn’t be arsed. In this sense I was hugely surprised to see Giroud selected over Welbeck and Ramsey starting alongside Elneny yet again. The Frenchman’s confidence is a non-existing entity these days and it was reflected in his performance.
Ramsey, meanwhile, was asked to do a job he is not particularly good at doing: Aaron played as a defensive midfielder. Elneny was deployed higher up the pitch. I do not understand the point of this. Ramsey didn’t look bad, though he wasn’t sufficiently tested, but why ask him to do a job Coquelin is much better at, while totally restricting his attacking freedom? If you want to use Ramsey’s strengths, play him as an 8, a 10, or even as a winger.
We have been spared another draw by a substitute Danny Welbeck, who looked a real livewire after coming on. This again begs the question of why he didn’t start the game in the first place. However Petr Cech’s contribution was probably even more important. Our number 1 performed 3 saves in the first half and it’s him we should be thanking for not losing the game before we won it.
Danny Danny Danny – Classic Commentarry
Finally, amid this series of high and low points, Mertesacker’s injury should be mentioned as a definite low point. He left the field early in the second half clutching his hamstring and this means season over for the German. Most importantly it means a pair of Gabriel and Koscielny in the remaining two games and this has me worried, seeing as one of these games is City away. I would advocate playing Chambers, but I harbour no illusions Wenger will do it after freezing the Englishman out for the entirety of the season.
Other important results
Leicester failed to beat United on Sunday, which for them means a wait for the title at least until Chelsea have played Spurs and for us it means United have only dropped two points and not three. However they are now 7 points behind us (albeit with a game in hand), which means we still need 3 points in the last two games. Our chances for making top 4 vastly improved this weekend, though.
We have also managed to stay in 3rd, 3 points ahead of City, thanks to Southampton spanking Pellegrini’s men at St. Mary’s. If we avoid a loss against City in the next game, the 3rd place and the ensuing direct Champions League qualification will rest firmly with us.
Finally, Spurs. While I don’t think we stand a realistic chance of coming 2nd (mostly because we screwed up ourselves by drawing against Palace and Sunderland), it’s worth noting Pochettino’s men face Chelsea, Southampton and Newcastle in the remaining games and they’ll be forced to play all 3 without Dele Alli. So I’ll keep my fingers crossed just in case, but any slight chance we might have will be dependent, first and foremost, on Arsenal winning both final games. After that we’ll need Spurs to drop quite a lot of points.
Finally, I wanted to mention the protests which took place during the game. I was hoping the protesters could keep it respectful, but it turned out they couldn’t, at least for the most part. Abuse and some truly horrible behaviour will be firmly intertwined with the whole thing now.
Which is a shame. I think right now the overriding mood among the Arsenal faithful is such that people want change. They believe the time for change really has come. Most want a change of manager first of all, then comes the desire for a change of owner and a shake-up at board level.
However the manner in which this current protest went down will mean people will want nothing to do with it, even if they do think it’s time for a change. After the signs were lifted, chants of “One Arsene Wenger” broke around the stadium, and I think they originated not exclusively from those who want the Frenchman to carry on. They were also, most likely, sang by those who think the manager deserves respect. It was a way of defying the protesters, a way of showing people disagree with such behavior, even if they agree with nature of the protest.
The last word
That’s basically all I wanted to say. Here’s to a quick recovery of Per Mertesacker, a good week of training and a Chelsea win today (don’t mention to anyone I said it).