Yesterday was a very pleasant day. There was a bit of sunshine amidst the early afternoon rain.
Working down Holloway Road is always special for me. Nervous excitement, trepidation and cautious optimism all combine in making sure my jangly nerves never allow me eat or even snack before matches.
On my journey to The Emirates, I observed many commuters heading to different football stadiums around the country and I wondered how football and football clubs have us fans wrapped around their little fingers. Average families shelling out £55 per football shirt is a huge sacrifice. You then have to add the cost of tickets, travel and meals.
The football economy is a massive one and underpins the weekend trade of many industries. In the absence of religion, football is definitely the opium of the United Kingdom masses.
The lineup selected by Unai Emery wasn’t a surprise especially as rumors of Ozil’s ill health had circulated the night before. Also many had spotted the fact that he wasn’t featured in the training pictures and videos released by the club. I must confess I don’t always pay too much attention to the pictures and videos. They are heavily choreographed, as the club does not want to give away any competitive information.
Looking at the squad, our Young ones are unlikely to get game time in the Premier League squad anytime soon. A good thing the Europa & Carabao Cups will start soon.
Arsenal were very okay in the first 10 to 15 minutes. I was on the lookout for what we will do after the first 20 minutes if the score was still level. As a team and in the past, I have always observed (no data to back me up) that we tend to run out of ideas if we are yet to score in the first 20 minutes. I sort of understand why. When it comes off, our attacking play can be so devastating.
When it doesn’t come off, many have accused Arsenal of been one dimensional because we have always stayed true to our philosophy. I suspect we are even more one dimensional now in the absence of a player like Giroud although a player like Wellbeck can be a possible answer to a Plan B when we need to knock it long in the last few minutes of a game we are chasing.
Yesterday wasn’t too different. We sort of dropped off as we approached the 20th minute. West Ham grew into the game and got their goal. As it was before, the goal galvanized us and we got our equalizer.
Like the Iwobi goal at Stamford Bridge, Monreal’s goal was a culmination of many passes that appear to be the Emery hallmark and also of Wenger before him. Long may that identity of the team continue and long may we be able to do more of it and get more goals out of it.
We could potentially have conceded more and we could have scored more. Cech justified his selection once again. Our full backs did their absolute best offensively. It was a near 10 over 10 performance going forward. One goal and two assists from your full backs is something to shout about. However as many have already observed, defensively we need more from them, perhaps through quicker recovery and the whole team looking after the ball better.
I thought we were too open and got caught too often. I have always believed that offensive teams will always get caught. Manchester City deal with theirs by brazenly fouling the opponents.
This link: https://twitter.com/deepxg/status/1033354792620449796provides some incisive stats. City like their boss’ former club in Spain are the masters of braze fouls.
The counters against us also show the lack of communication between the midfield and the defenders or potentially panic by the latter. There were a few examples from yesterday. I also felt our central defenders were turned too easily. I hope as one half of the Centre Back pairing adapt to the Premier League, we will get more out of them.
In summary, a well earned Three Points. It shows how very hard it is to earn those points in the Premier League. The boys worked hard for it and were totally spent by the time the final whistle went. I believe Danny’s muted celebration was one of relief.
Yesterday must have been very emotional for the boys. They were battling with three former teammates who have left without any dressing room issues we know of. The post match pictures did tug at my heartstrings a little.
What is reassuring for me is that the manager and his players recognize there is still a lot of work to do. All the post match comments have acknowledged this. I am hoping yesterday is a springboard for better things. As we can potentially put a decent run together referees permitting.
As fans we can play a part. Fans in the stadium need to continue to cheer rapturously. The atmosphere was good yesterday but it was flat at many times.
Fans online can stop directing any form of negative morale sapping tweets to players. It is to our advantage to be positive. Why are we easily swayed by pundits dissing our club and giving other clubs a pass? Liverpool have struggled against both Palace and Brighton but they are going to win all trophies this season. Why should we allow people who spout this type of rubbish influence our opinion or how we see football?
Some of our own fans are happy to cheer our opponents for glorified failure but will have one or two negative comments about Arsenal. It is either playing well doesn’t matter if you don’t get three points, or we didn’t play well enough even though we won or we didn’t win by a bigger goal margin or we don’t do it often. It does sound like nothing from Arsenal will ever be good enough for some fans who claim to support the club.
All fans can ignore AFTV and the ignoble British sports media.
Baba Grumpy works in financial services in the United Kingdom. He blogs mostly about football at http://babagrumpy.blogspot.co.uk. His Twitter handle is @BabaGrumpy