It’s easy being an Arsenal fan blogger these days. The club have 9 wins in their last 11 games, confidence is high, the defense is improving, and these blog posts pretty much write themselves. After the international break, November will end with a bang, as we have two Premier League matches (Norwich, Fulham) and one Champions League game (Borussia Dortmund). So in the meantime, let’s sit back and reflect on our latest victory at the Emirates.
There were a couple of key roster changes: “slow” German Per Mertesacker was benched, so that Thomas Vermaelen could pair up with Laurent Koscielny at centre back. On the West Brom side, Peter Odemwingie had to miss the match due to an injury he suffered during training. So Roy Hodgson had to use Simon Cox instead.
The result was a return to the “tiki-taka” style of play that Arsenal fans are accustomed to watching. Hodgson employed a 4-5-1 formation in an attempt to clog the midfield, but that only worked for 22 minutes. Theo Walcott broke free on the right side, and his shot was stopped at close range, but the ball rebounded over to Robin van Persie who had a wide open net. After that, nothing was going to stop the Arsenal attack. RVP (who gets my vote for man of the match) set up the next two goals (Vermaelen 39, Arteta 74) and we now have a positive goal difference (+2).
Szczesny had to make a couple of good saves, but he was largely unused as Arsenal dominated possession. Another clean sheet for us, and all the Wenger haters have nothing to say. WS13 had another Almunia moment today, but did not get punished. It’s great to be confident, but I fear we will get burned one of these days. Hopefully it won’t be during the Man City match (December 18).
Much-maligned Tomas Rosicky replaced Aaron Ramsey at the 71st minute, and set up RVP with a give-and-go, which led to Arteta’s goal. I actually like the player, as he’s capable of (short) bursts of speed and is defensively responsible. He’s a good pick when there are 20 minutes remaining and you want to protect a lead.
It’s amazing how far we are behind the #1 spot in the table – Man City has 31 points, and a +29 goal difference. As of today, it’s hard to imagine both Man City and Man Utd would slide so far down as to open the door for Arsenal. But it’s a long season. Fourth place is definitely attainable, perhaps even before Christmas.
I could spout off a bunch of automotive metaphors here, but the “handbrake” is definitely off. Let’s hope our players return safe-and-sound from next week’s international break. Up the Arsenal!