The topsy-turvy emotional Gooner rollercoaster continued this week with a loop-the-loop that left you feeling like a kebab being primed and ready before being dished out to an unruly drunk member of the public in the early hours of a Sunday morning.
But enough about my recent adventures with good pal Vodski, and onto what has been a turbulent week for the Arsenal. The last time I wrote was following a win at Crystal Palace and the day before our Capital One Cup clash with Chelsea.
If I’m being completely honest, this past week has gone better than I thought it would. I predicted us to lose to Jose Mourinho and those pricks he calls a team on Tuesday night, not because I don’t think we can beat them (especially at home) but purely because they have a £140m ‘B team’ that they can field for lesser priority competitions such as this. We didn’t play too badly, and could have definitely got level due to a few decent chances, but it was ultimately over when Juan Mata banged in that pearler to make it 2-0. Yes it is disheartening to lose the chance at another trophy, especially given the monkey that is stilling climbing all over our back, but we are in three other competitions that are more important – so let’s not be going and putting knives to our throats now.
However, we then put in a fantastic display just four days later in the Premier League to Liverpool and earned a well-deserved 2-0 win against one of our Premier League title rivals. I had an inkling going into the clash that we may be forced to settle for a point, given the devastating recent form of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, but Arsene Wenger got his tactics spot on and we played them off the park at times. It doesn’t end there though, as we have two more solid tests in the coming days; first in Dortmund, and secondly in Manchester.
So to review the week and preview the times ahead, here are my five points of the week:
[heading size=”12″]Gunners Town Top 5: Talking Points of the Week[/heading]
1. Leading by example
The term ‘Captain Fantastic’ was a phrase that personified the performance of our two leaders on Saturday against Liverpool. Mikel Arteta in particular, along with Per Mertesacker were simply outstanding. Both have come under scrutiny at times in recent years, especially the BFG, but they showed their top quality at the Emirates at the weekend and guided us to an important win.
Arteta, with his hair so wonderfully in place as ever, ran the show. In the absence of Mathieu Flamini, he was there just in front of the back four to break up the moves of the Reds and start attacks of our own. But he didn’t stop there, and was frequently surging into the empty space with the ball at his feet to expose Liverpool’s frailties. He made Lucas Leiva his little bitch in the battle of the holding midfielders, and played an integral part in the opening goal by roaring forward and slotting a perfect pass out wide for Bacary Sagna to cross and Santi Cazorla to convert.
Meanwhile at the back, many had predicted (mainly Liverpool fans) that the famous SAS would rip Mertesacker a new one. There was no way that this dangly clown would be able to cope with the rapid speed of Suarez and Sturridge, and they would have a field day obliterating the Arsenal backline on their way to a simple win. How wrong were they eh.
Per did his best Gandalf impression and simply told the SAS: “YOOOOOOOOUUUU SHAAAAALLLL NOT PAAAAASSSSSS!” And he was true to his word. Mertesacker gets written off so quickly purely because he’s the sort of guy you could beat in a race on your hands and knees, and we live in an era where everyone gets an erection over a bit of pace, regardless of if the player is utter dogshit once he gets possession of the ball. Mertesacker doesn’t have the caps he does for Germany for no reason, and he again showed his dominance in the air, his excellent reading of the game, and his superb organisation skills.
It’s old news now, but the BFG and Laurent Koscielny have put together one of the best defensive partnerships in Europe, and most certainly in the Premier League. They complement each other so well and never gave Suarez or Sturridge a moment’s peace for the vast majority of the clash.
So to our captains I say; bravo, encore.
2. Suarez Saga II
Many of you may not have seen the discussions that unfolded on Saturday night after the win, but the transfer talk of Suarez to Arsenal cropped up once more. The reliable @GeoffArsenal Tweeted that we are intending to go in for the striker again as soon as the January window opens up having failed to bring him in during the summer.
What followed the Tweet though was the usual Twitter bitchiness and insults after Geoff deleted the post. He got the Mesut Ozil information spot on days before anyone else knew about it, and is known to have contacts from within the club, so why would he make this up? Surely people can see that he would have erased the comment as a matter of keeping his source happy while feeding us the kind of news we all so frequently beg for. I trust him, especially knowing how hard we went in for Suarez last time.
He’d be a fantastic acquisition, despite being a Grade A pillock, and could really push us that bit closer to ending our trophy drought. Yes he needs a lot of chances at times, but look at how many goals he scores, and with the service that we’d give him he could bang in a whole lot more.
Hopefully Liverpool will drop off a bit so we may actually reach a stage where we look a better option in terms of the Premier League table and can force negotiations. We know that, with all due respect to Liverpool, we’re a club with better facilities and players challenging for the top at the elite stage. But while the Reds are still hanging with the usual suspects at the top, I can’t imagine we’d be able to prise him away.
Then there’s his price tag. While there were rumours that we upped our bid to £50m for him in the summer, I can’t see us getting him for any less than £60m given the current market, his form this season, the status’ of the two clubs along with the fact that negotiations would take place in January.
Who knows, but I’d be up for him. We’ll just have to wait another eight weeks or so to find out.
3. Give Giroud some credit
On the talk of strikers, that leads me on to our very own handsome French machine in attack; Olivier Giroud. Now while I’m not doing what some Gooners do and insist on crying every time somebody writes off Arsenal, our players or praises someone else, I do want to put the spotlight back on Giroud for a moment.
Of course we need a new striker, besides him, we have Nicklas Bendtner, Chu-Young Park and an injured Yaya Sanogo – all of whom are no good in their current predicaments. But what bugs me is that some people seem to be shouting from the rooftops about our need for a new centre-forward as if we are playing without one.
Yes Giroud has gained a lot of plaudits and proved a number of critics wrong this term, but sometimes I just don’t think people realise how important a player he is for us. For the system that we play, and the style in which we take to the field, he is absolutely outstanding for the role. Not only does he have the ballet-like feet and awareness of a dog during firework night to produce utter magic in front of goal, but he also has the brains and brawns to battle further back, win the ball, drag defenders out of their positions, and bring his teammates into play.
He is so much more than a ‘target man’ which he is often labelled, and I frickin love the man for this. While he isn’t quite up there yet with the world’s elite strikers, he is certainly on his way to that level and is among the best when it comes to current form.
Let’s wrap him up in cotton wool and pray that he can keep it up until at least January.
4. Wilshere Woes
Now, as you know, I’m not one for negativity, and don’t shoot the messenger, but I’ve got some bad news regarding Jack Wilshere. To cut a long story short about how I obtained this information, I’m doing bits on the sports desk for a major national newspaper and overheard a phone call coupled with a resulting conversation about this topic.
According to my sources, Wilshere is crocked again, and the club are far more worried about it than they are letting on. As you know, Jack has had terrible luck when it has come to injury problems over the last few years, in particular with his knee and ankle. Well I’ve been told that he has again picked up an ankle problem that caused him to miss the win over Liverpool at the weekend.
However, this is where it gets to the part where you bite your lip and scrunch up your face. It appears that the trouble is being caused on his other ankle. That’s right, he now has two dodgy ankles. He is definitely out of the Dortmund clash on Wednesday and is likely to miss the trip to Manchester United at the weekend but, while I don’t know any exact details beyond this, I get the vibe that he could be set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Of course I could be wrong and he could return in a week, but that’s what I know and I’m just passing it on to my fellow Gooners. And before you ask, I’m not a #ITK and I have no idea about how long Kieran Gibbs will be out for.
5. We can win at Old Trafford
One thing that has escaped us in recent years is the ability to get the better of the old enemy in their own backyard. Of course everyone thinks back to 2002 when it comes to trips to the Champions when we won the double there, but, off the top of my head, the last time I remember us winning at Old Trafford was when Emmanuel Adebayor got us a late 1-0 win back in 2007 I think.
We’ve frequently gone there as underdogs, and rightly so, let’s not forget that United are one of the best clubs in the world. But for the first time in years, we go to Old Trafford perhaps as favourites for the win. They’ve had an indifferent start to life without Sir Alex Ferguson, while Arsene Wenger’s boys are firing on all cylinders.
Despite the fact that we’ve beaten Spurs and Liverpool in the league now, United away will prove to be our first, in my books, major test. We’re going to the home of the Premier League champions, and we know we can win, and we should play like that. A point wouldn’t be the worst in the world, but let’s make a statement and shut all these back-peddling pundit fuckers up by taking all three points and leaving them 11 behind us in the table.
That gap could also prove crucial later on in the campaign, as we all know that United often fight back in the second half of the season and have done it so many times before. So that’s just one more reason why beating them is so vital.
It would see us emerge out of a difficult run of fixtures with a scalp at the champions, at least a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League, and momentum on our side heading into Christmas.
Just the thought of beating United is enough to make you get a little bit excited in your pants, but doing so this time out could be enough for you to blow you cannon.
Thanks for reading, let me know your thoughts and give us a follow on Twitter. I don’t bite, unless you want me to.
Never forget you’re a Gooner.
Matt has been the editor of the site since June 2012 and was born into a Gooner family 21 years ago. He recently graduated from Southampton Solent University with a degree in Sports Journalism and strives to work in the Sports Media industry. As well as currently working as a reporter for Sports Mole and TIBS News, Matt has been providing football commentary for the visually impaired since 2008 at Arsenal, Exeter City and Wembley.
His earliest Gunners memory is watching the ‘Boring, boring Arsenal’ VHS as a six-year-old on repeat, to the extent where he could recite most of the commentary from that season. Matt was lucky enough to witness Arsenal lift the Premier League in 2002 as well as being present during the last match at Highbury in 2006, and at Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial a few months later at the Emirates Stadium. Matt’s favourite players include Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Tony Adams, with the 5-3 comeback victory against Middlesbrough in 2004 the best match he has ever spectated.
Matt is an optimistic ’In Wenger we trust’, kind of guy and believes that the glory days are not too far away…
Apart from his editorial duties, Matt will also be bringing his Arsenal knowledge to a column called “Where Are They Now?” – which focuses on former Gunners.