Looking at the match from a perspective, it was a good win for us. Not because of the number of goals we scored, nor how we played but just because we won and got all 3 points. That we scored 5 and at times, played football the way that we remember the team could, is just icing on the cake. After the midweek catastrophe, this win over Reading is the first of many pages that we have to go through to get to the end.
Theo Walcott finally got his chance to play as the central striker. On paper, that reads 1 game – 1 goal. If he continues to produce the same output in every game, he’s going to be phenomenal. Realistically though, we won’t be playing the last placed team every week. Reading afforded him more room than he should be getting but otherwise kept the afterburners unused yesterday. He worked his goal well but I thought he had a quiet game. Walcott didn’t stray away much from the centre backs and that meant a wider space in midfield for us to work the ball. An acceptable performance in the middle but not setting the world alight, just yet.
The two new signings stole the show, providing a refreshment that they are still there to be counted on. The only problem I have with that is the consistency in which these performances appear. One can also easily take into account the nature and quality of the opponent as another reason why they played well. It’s about doing the job here against poorer sides, as well as against the better sides. Lukas Podolski, so anonymous in the past month turned up yesterday and it was his opening goal that set the ball rolling. He even managed to turn provider (twice!) to the man who is normally tasked with the creativity duties.
Santi Cazorla was the benefactor of those two assists and got himself another goal, earning him the right to claim the match ball. He wasn’t just in the mood of taking, he was also in a giving mood. Laying the ball nicely for Walcott to score Arsenal’s 5th goal. Yesterday we saw the other side of Cazorla. We all know about his skills on the ball and his ability to retain and pass the ball with aplomb. We also know about his affinity to shooting from distance, though most of those are with his previous clubs. What we saw yesterday was his runs into the penalty box. For a creator such as him, he recognises the need to being at the end of moves and that’s a very big positive for me. Positionally where he took those goals, more than the goals itself.
In a game where we were completely in control and cruising, we still managed to shit ourselves in the pants. At 4-0 up and just 30 minutes left on the clock, one would expect the players to move the ball around and not take unnecessary risks. That we’ve scored a certain number of goals and now we want to ensure that we keep a clean sheet as well. That didn’t happened. For a period of 5 – 10 minutes, we went into hibernation and allowed Reading a window to exploit. Sloppy pass inside our own half lead to their first goal, poor defending for their second. I’m sure no Arsenal fans were feeling unperturbed at this point of the match.
Thankfully, our worst fears did not come to fruition. We managed to increase the lead back to 3 goals and Francis Coquelin was sent on to give us more protection. The game petered out after Walcott’s goal and we were comfortable from then on. It should never have gotten to the point where we had to worry/doubt about the result. Despite the huge win in an away ground, there are still plenty more that the team can improve on. The consistency needs to be there as well as the concentration. The game doesn’t end until the final whistle / one team having 5 players sent off / pitch invasion / floodlights go out.
This win does not mean the end of our troubles. Neither does it mean that we’ve completely turned the boat around. If anything, we’ve only just thrown the anchor in the water and stopped us from going over the big gigantic waterfall. But the current is still strong and the anchor won’t save the ship for very long. Someone needs to completely fix the ship’s mega engine, so that the captain can turn the ship around and set sail for home. The season is still long and there are many more things that we can worry about. Just like when Jack Wilshere goes down looking like he’s in a lot of pain, those are the worrisome moments.
All said and done, I’m going to savour the win and you should too. There’s no guarantee how the rest of the season will pan out. We’ll just have to enjoy every little bits that comes our way.