Finally!! A clean sheet for Arsenal. The Gunners had quite a good game on Saturday in all aspects of the field. A solid back four, a good balance in the middle and a surprisingly an impressive attack force with the Ox claiming that left wing as his own. This time I will starts with Stoke. They looked very solid at the back and at some point i did not think we would score at all. Every time we went on the attack they would have 10 men behind the ball and that made it impossible for us to find a gap in open play.
I don’t know what Arsene said to the boys but they came out and they were ready to give up life and limb for that win. The Ox looking absolutely sensational on the left, doing exactly what was expected of him. The combined pace of Walcott and Chambo was a serious problem for Stoke. The Ox had two chances to convert but it just was not his day to add to his goal tally. Keeper denied the Englishmen twice when it looked certain that the ball was net bound and we would take the lead. Walcott looked Good, not great just good this time. The physical presence of the stoke defence was just enough to agitate him and it looked like he was just losing focus at some point. He was kicked and pushed around with no calls being made for fouls by the linesmen. Stoke are a very physical side, not much else is going for them besides that, so they use it to their advantage. You are almost guaranteed to come off second best against a stoke player in a one on one contest. I think that all the refs had a meeting and decided that it was okay for them to be so physical .
The combination of Jack, Diaby and Arteta worked really well in the middle. With Jack being the English bulldog that he is, we know for sure that he is always willing to fight for the ball. Arteta is back and we really did miss him. As an attacking mid he also knows how to defend and hold that mid tight. At the moment I do regard him as the last of a dying breed and an important part of this new Arsenal team. Abou Diaby was not looking bad at all, his game at this weekend reminded me of the one he had against Liverpool in the beginning of the season. With him wining the ball in the middle, making some good runs and most importantly releasing the ball and passing on time. He looks to be on the way to gaining his good form back and at the moment that’s exactly what we need. We have about thirteen games of the season left and we are sitting 6th on the table.
Defensively, we looked unbeatable. I’m seriously getting worried that the keeper is getting way to comfortable out there. I think he needs some serious competition to keep him on his toes. Sagna proving to us once again why he, is the first choice for Arsenal and heading off to play for France in the friendly. We need to re-sign him, two more years just so Jenkinson can get a bit more experience on his boots. Merti and Koscienly looked amazing. At the moment I prefer Koscienly to Vermaalen. Good game for Monreal.
When the super-subs came on, the difference in class was quickly revealed. Podolski and Santi came on first in the last quarter of the game and caused some serious havoc on the left side of the pitch. Then Podolski caused some more havoc on the right side of the pitch with a well struck free kick and with some help from the Stoke defender an unlucky deflection, putting the gunners ahead buy a goal to nil. I have never asked for Ramsey to come on but this Saturday I did, but I did not think it would be for Walcott. The Welsh international stood his ground and I think at the moment with his current form, he may very well be amongst the season’s most influential players in the team.
At the end of it all, I left the pub sober and with a beautiful song on my lips.
ONE NIL TO THE ARSENAL
By Ntokozo Hlongwane