Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea. No, I’m not singing their song but that’s how many times we will keep a look out for the results of their matches before we play our next one. It all became more important after last night’s results. Both us and Sp*rs won our respective matches and it keeps up with the intensity of the chase for the last 2 Champions League spots. Both were identical scores and both endured a tougher time than one would anticipate.
The similarity doesn’t just stop there, both goals were scored by former Southampton players and both played their 200th game yesterday. Gareth Bale lived up to his player of the year awards and scored a quite sublime goal. Credit has to be given when its due. They were struggling and Southampton was having a stormer only to be denied by poor finishing and Lloris’ brilliance. I really thought they would drop 2 points but what happened, happened.
As for us, Theo Walcott was the hero and for the other 93 minutes (including extra time), no producer have to ask for the score to be changed. The other 93 minutes were as nervy as they come. QPR didn’t hammer us as much or as well as Southampton did in their game but because of our past, it still made for a very tense finish to the game.
The run to the finish line hasn’t been the easiest despite what is perceived as the easiest of run-ins compared to Chelsea’s and Sp*rs’. We’ve struggled for fluency in most parts of matches but probably have done the required minimum to get all 3 points. We haven’t created much in the last few matches but we’ve certainly increased our clinical-ness. We’ve always said that we have to convert our chances and we are doing exactly that. It’s hard to complain.
To add to that, 3 clean sheets in the last 4 matches. We’ve also found some steel and resoluteness to our defending. As was highlighted in yesterday’s piece, we are not far off compared to what is thought as the best in the league. Yesterday’s QPR match will be added to the list of evidence that supports that. Monreal struggled with the pace and trickery of Townsend but otherwise, I thought we defended very well.
The continued pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny has been justified and while it was hard for Wenger to keep his captain on the bench, Vermaelen is unlikely to find good reasons to ask to be reinstalled. The German-French axis have built up a good understanding of each other’s game and we can see that they continues to cover and protect each other. Long may that continue.
In midfield Mikel Arteta stood out for me. I have criticised him this season as I’ve felt that he hampers the way we play in the attacking sense but again, credit given when its due. He pick his challenges well and rarely was found in the wrong position. His reading of the game is probably second to none in the team and it is probably nurtured because he knows he lacks pace. I would have him as the man of the match yesterday.
The other 2 in midfield though, looks tired. Cazorla and Ramsey deserves a lot of praise for their work this season but they looked to be running low on fuel at the moment. What is hard is to keep them out despite realising this fact. The reasons ranges from not having any replacements to replacements that are in poor form. Hopefully the 8 days in between from this match to the next game at Wigan, will help recharge their batteries.
It’ll be one more match till we see the return of Giroud and on the evidence of the last few matches, it can’t come any sooner. Podolski looked lost up front yet again. Granted, it’s always hard and unfair to judge after only 2 games (or 3 if you count the one earlier this season), but there’s little indication that he could work there. I hope I’m proven wrong but somehow I don’t expect this to work. Surrounded by defenders tight on him and playing with his back to goal, will not make him produce his best attributes.
It was tough but we hung on in the end. Not good for the health of any Arsenal supporter but 3 points was all that matters. Now, I’m going to go figure out what result I want for the next 3 Chelsea matches.