Arsenal are somewhat of a landmark club, often being the first to set many firsts, and against Newcastle Arsene Wenger’s men did it again.
After Vermaelen’s last minute strike completed our comeback, we became the first team in the league to win four games in a row after conceding the first goal.
It’s debatable whether or not that’s something to be proud of. On the one hand it means we’re conceding sloppy, early goals. On the other, it means we’re finally showing some balls.
Exactly this time last year our form went into free fall. From almost challenging for the title we descended into a shambolic scrap for third. And we lost.
Until recently we never recovered from that form, as inconsistency defined our results we put on some gutless displays summed up by the 4-3 loss at Blackburn.
One year later, and nicely epitomised by our latest record, we seem to be finally doing something about it, giving some industrious performances, winning ugly, and getting late goals to do so. The last few matches are proof of this and it gives me hope to see that we are moving in the right direction. Most notably, up.
So, the game. It was what my Granddad would call a humdinger. Despite their time wasting shenanigans Newcastle were playing a shrewd away game, soaking up pressure and looking dangerous on the break.
They didn’t have to wait long for it to pay off. On the 15th minute Ben Arfa drilled past Wojciech Szczesny’s near post after we gave the ball away in our own half. It was schoolboy stuff and they made us pay for it.
Less than a minute into the restart the ball was played wide to Walcott who spotted Robin lurking in the box, fizzing a low cross into his feet. Two touches and one lagging Newcastle defender later and he’d smashed his shot past panto villain for the night, goalkeeper Tim Krul.
The Dutchman took his sweet time over every goal kick he had, infuriating the Emirates crowd and, as the second half went on, our captain too, who had a few choice words for his countryman.
The best chance in the second half came after clever work from Walcott and Rosicky down the right hand flank. Theo cut back inside leaving his tracker sliding into the Clock End and offloaded the ball eight yards out to Rosicky who fluffed his lines, shanking his shot well wide. To be fair Theo’s pass was a bit hard and not on the ground so they’re both guilty of wasting a great opportunity.
Yet, they were two of our best performers last night, Rosicky marking his resurgence in form with a contract extension signed earlier that day.
Still, it looked like we were going to rue a lot of missed chances, even after the fourth official’s board gave us a hopeful five minutes of injury time. Four minutes into that period Newcastle had a throw in in our corner and a point seemed the best we could hope for.
But there’s a twist. Whether it was tired legs or inexperience, we easily dispossessed them when they really should have just set up camp by the corner flag.
Song sent the ball out wide to Theo who ended up in a position to provide the vital cross for our supporting attackers in the box. In earnest, I wasn’t hopeful, such is Theo’s dependability in such situations. But he has the air of a new man since the Spurs game and is strutting some long absent pinache of late.
His cross was–almost–perfect. After Robin and Ramsey got into each other’s way the ball dropped for Thomas Vermaelen–who had sprinted the length of the pitch to get into the box–to win us three points, set a new record and keep the momentum up.
There was some scrapping and shouting between van Persie and Krul after the goal, the latter upset at Robin’s suggestion that he might like to consider not wasting time any more now that his team were losing.
It led to some petty scenes but the fire in Robin’s belly got the crowd in full voice and showed that the team have really bonded; the goal celebrations and the team’s tribal defence of the captain were evidence enough. Dare I say it but he looks like the best captain we’ve had in a very long time.
In other news things are heating up on the Lukas Podolski front. After a torrid spell at Bayern he’s having an excellent season back at FC Köln and while some in England are getting their knickers in a twist believing that he’s already signed let’s just say we should hold our horses for a the time being.
The only paper to claim he has officially signed is Das Bild, the German equivalent of The Sun. If you’re not familiar with British press then imagine a newspaper full of so much crap you need to wash your hands after reading it.
Saying that, the ever reliable German football correspondent, Raphael Honigstein, did say that the deal is looking very likely, so here’s hoping.
Also on the transfer front and just as pleasing to hear, equally repulsive manure stirrers in England have been circulating reports that van Persie has done a deal to go to Manchester City. I’m crossing my fingers, toes and any other part of my anatomy that can overlap another part that it’s the lady that wears the trousers in the van Persie relationship, as his wife tweeted:
“Rumours, rumours, rumours pfff getting tired of them. Please don’t believe anything unless it comes from @Persie_Official him self.”
Interesting stuff, indeed. And while it doesn’t mean he’s definitely not off in the summer, it does suggest the rumours are, well, just that, rumours. Let’s just sit tight and let him know he’s adored until it’s crunch time.
It’s been a very pleasing period being an Arsenal fan after the start to the season we’ve had, and I’m full of hope for the near future. Somehow things seem to be getting back on track again.
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