Joy - 3 points, but it must be said only after 84 minutes of painful; "oh shite it's last year all over again" running over and over in my head. Now though it’s a sunny California afternoon and I’ve been thinking about the games I’ve just witnessed and thought I’d put some thoughts up on the site.
It's been a greedy football weekend in the Château due Grimbo with the wife relegated to the bedroom TV and myself well and truly glued to the screen after such a LONG time without Footy. Thusly the viewing shenanigans that screwed many of you over back there in Blighty, totally played in my favour with Fox Soccer Channel (yes I hate the word, but it’s what the channel is called) playing the Arse game here when originally they were not…….albeit it must be said at 4am (yawn) - and what a game – boring it was not. But first onto others.
I watched the Hammers vs. Citeh game first on Saturday and followed that up with the Scousers and Aston Vanilla. Firstly the Hammers game, and just how weird it was to see Freddie in a West Ham shirt. No different then when Wrighty went there I guess but it’s always weird the first time. I won’t go into details but the hammers got a well-deserved beating by a surprisingly coherent Citeh side, impressive considering how little time they’ve had together. Elano was class.
In the ‘Pool vs. Villa game I was really surprised at just how lethargic the Scousers were. Torres played better then I expected, and I was doubly pissed when I saw Babel come on and have an instant effect (should’ve bought him – he and RVP would be dynamite together), but in my eyes that game easily could’ve gone Villa’s way with my man of the match going to a solid Ashley Young who was seemingly unstoppable on the left, the 'Pool had no answer to him, he was terrorising them there throughout the match… I would not mind at all seeing that young man in an Arsenal shirt in that same position. News then came in of the Spuds getting beaten… How I laughed.
Today’s games were the Arse vs. Fulham and the ManUre vs. Reading mathes. In 51 seconds flat my heart sank. Profanity came streaming out of my gob in a tirade of one long vowel movement - a multi-syllabic streamed event of epic proportions. Mad Jen’s strikes again. Then as mentioned I spent 84 minutes on the edge of my seat watching a re-run of last season. My thoughts now? Well apart from sheer delight from Hleb’s winner, now that I’m calm and look at it without my heart in my mouth - it wasn’t actually the horrific display I grumbled to the wife about - the re-run I just played showed a different game.
Yes there was an unacceptable display of rustiness, but this seemed echoed by all the squads I’d seen this weekend and was certainly no worse then the Scouse game. For me this was more about a very much-improved Fulham side then a terrible Arsenal performance plus a ridiculously good showing by Warner (game of his life surely – when RVP and the Cesc were through on goal I was CERTAIN they would score) and a couple of great if slightly fluky blocks by Zat Knight. I'm telling you TH14, Zidane, Pele and Eto' would've had a hard time getting past Warner today, he had a great game - but you know what, the sun even shines on a dogs arse from time to time.
Hleb was robbed of a completely legitimate penalty call and the dead cert goal that came off of Knight and was my man of the match. I won't even comment on Sanchez freaking out to the ref about Davies tripping over his own feet, the replay shows NO contact at all. Knob.
Now here’s the rub. I watched the Manc game and was wholly under whelmed by their performance too, and from what I hear (biased sources I admit) the Chelski game was no walk over either…thusly do I say that despite some holes still being evident in our own performance, our first game was on a par with the other 'favorites' in the Premiership and so I’m not in the slightest worried by our start. It’s the beginning of the season and all in the league are rusty – the important thing is those 3 points – and you know why I say this? Because in EXACTLY the same circumstances last year, we too often settled for the draw and that was not the case here they fought all the way to the end - We shall never surrender..... This was evident in the kerfuffle when Warner wouldn’t give up the ball – Fulham KNEW the Arse were not going to settle for a draw and so tried to hold the game up… Yes the reaction was a bit stupid – but when you’re fired up like the Gunners were after that goal you don’t settle for people holding the game up like that.
So in closing this little piece in which I haven’t gone into much detail on the actual match (as Rich & Tony did a sterling job – nice read lads) I say this to all you Gunners out there. I think that we can win this. The performance wasn’t the best, there’s still something to be found in finishing and the passing – but the HEART is there, the red beating heart that only showed up at the end of last season – this season it’s here from the start and there is much to hope for.
Hleb rocked, Rocicky would’ve scored if Warner hadn’t have been on fire, Bendtner wasn’t lazy and almost scored twice impressing me a lot, RVP worked hard despite being hammered by pretty harsh tackles all over the place, Cesc didn’t look at his best but battled hard, Sanga was solid as was Clichy, Toure and Gallas played well(ish) together and Gallas (gasp didn’t think I could write this) actually acted well as a leader, Flamini ran after everything even though he wasn’t my first pick (Diaby was) and when Walcott came on I thought he’d score with that blistering run – sadly a lack of confidence made him trip over himself a bit but certainly a decent showing, Eboue wasn't great but also wasn't as bad as some of the pundits have mentioned.
I’m happy; it's early days, we didn’t loose, the Manc’s drew and Chelski very nearly did also. The Spud’s lost and Liverpool were no where near as hot as I’d thought they’d be. This is going to be a good year methinks. I know there’s plenty out there that’ll shoot this piece to bits in the comments, that's your right, but I don’t care. I stand by the team and Arsene on this one. A Solid performance from the lads all acting as a TEAM, and one from which to build upon.