By Walter Broeckx
It sure was an interesting week of football. With most of the PL having a nice rest we were one of the few PL teams that had to play a match last weekend. Or last Monday. And what for a match. Going to Old Trafford is one of the most difficult places to go to in any competition. But the boys did great and produced a performance that warranted and gave us a deserved win. Good attacking, good defending, bossing midfield for most of the match. It felt like a repeat of our PL match at Manchester City. Coquelin with or without a mask being a big factor once again. But I am hesitant in picking out a player in particular as it was a great team performance.
Next nice surprise was that the tactical genius also called Moaninho messed up against 10-man PSG. These being two teams fabricated on money from outside football I don’t like them at all. But at least their manager doesn’t poke other coaches in the eye or is constantly having cheap shots at other people so he is a bit more likeable.
The way the Chelsea players behaved was nicely highlighted and the way Mourinho chose to defend the 1-1 from the first leg against a team that had to play 90 minutes with 10 men was amazing. Well not that amazing if you know Mourinho. But that it backfired in such a way is not something that happens everyday. Because of other obligations I only saw the last 20 minutes of extra time and I didn’t know PSG were a man down until they scored the equaliser and the reporter mentioned it. I couldn’t tell that they were a man down and that made them and their performance even more impressive.
As a result if we and Manchester City cannot turn around our first leg deficit, once again no PL team will be in the last eight of the Champions League.
It really is time that people in England need to think about that and go looking for the reasons. Yes reasons. And let me give a clue about one reason that has nothing to do with it: too many foreigners. But maybe people could look at other things. Like getting PL to overplay in some periods when other leagues take a short but welcome rest.
And what about the difference in refereeing between the PL and the rest of Europe and the world? Something the Chelsea players tried to exploit in the Ibrahimovic incident. But then failed to capitalise on.
Anyway, the weekend brought again a few nice results. I remember in the last weeks of 2014, the you-know-who part of our fans was suggesting that we should get rid of Wenger and get Fat Sam to replace him. Honestly people who claimed to be Arsenal supporters were saying this! Think of that for one moment. Can you imagine Özil and Alexis waking up one day, go to training and see Fat Sam there and no longer Wenger???? Neither could they, I think. But as usual the owners of a 30 minute memory only had an eye for the now (in those days) and didn’t see the bigger picture.
A picture that showed that when we went to West Ham United around Christmas we were one point behind them. The moaners moaning about how far Sam Allardyce took West Ham and how they even were going to end up in front of us. They had 31 points we had 30. Now we have 57 points and are in third place one point behind second place. And West Ham led by the ‘much better Sam Allardyce’? They have 39 points. As usual it isn’t bad to trust the manager and the players and give them time to recover from the injuries and ref shit that has happened in the first part of the season. I don’t think there will be one of those “Fat Sam in” shouters left that wants to remember what they shouted for.
Manchester City do seem to struggle at the moment. Going to Burnley and losing is not really champions stuff. When we won there in January in an attempt to write down our performance they trotted out the excuse that Touré was in the Africa cup. Well he was there in Burnley.
The same can be said about Manchester United. Even when we won last Monday some said it was just because they were a weak team and a weak side. They just won 3-0 against the Tiny Totts yesterday and are still in our slipstream. In fact only 2 points difference between 2nd and 4th place.
If you look at the form guide in the last 8 matches we have Liverpool with 22 points, Arsenal with 21 points and then Manchester United with 19 points. So we did go to a team that was on a rather good run till we beat them. And continued their good run in the PL this weekend. So, please do us a favour and stop writing down our performances. If Liverpool doesn’t win today it will be Arsenal who lead the form table by the way. Liverpool not winning would mean that there will be a top four that has made a bit of a gap between them and the res. And who is in the top four now? Yes, the usual suspects of the last 3 or 4 seasons.
And league leaders and winners of the quadruple, oh sorry. Chelsea winners of the triple oops sorry again. What they did win was the league cup of course. And that is interesting because I have seen a few winners of the league cup suddenly slipping up in the league. Slipping up is even putting it mildly. Collapsing might be a better word. Birmingham was the major example of course because when they won the final against us they had 30 points in the table and at the end of the season after 12 more matches they only had 39 and were relegated. Not saying Chelsea can still go down but we have seen league cup winners losing their grip on things in the past. A bit of decompression I think.
All in all a not too bad week for Arsenal. Some great results for ourselves and some nice results with other teams stumbling a bit. Lets hope we can continue our form in the league and even improve on it.
The anniversaries: the unexpected, the mysterious, the desperate, and the beautiful
THE UNEXPECTED: 16 March 1896: Arsenal Reserves played Thames Ironworks at Canning Town in what is believed to have been Arsenal’s first floodlit game. Arsenal won 5-3. Gas lamps were strung over the pitch to provide light.
THE MYSTERIOUS: 16 March 1936: George Marks joined as an amateur from Salisbury Corinthians. He only played two league games and eventually moved onto Blackburn in 1946 – but he was the keeper in the “Arsenal Stadium Mystery” movie.
THE DESPERATE: 16 March 1962: Billy Wright named as Arsenal manager. His signing ended the tradition which started with Joe Shaw, of Arsenal appointing managers who had already served the club. It turned out to be a poor decision.
THE BEAUTIFUL: 16 March 2014: Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1 with a Rosicky screamer in 72 seconds being the only goal of the match.