For the first time in 2013, Arsenal have achieved 2 consecutive wins, one at a canter and the other hard fought. The mid week win against West Ham pushed us a little closer to the Champions League spot. Only 4 points separates us and the lesser lights of North London in Tottenham. While the win at the weekend was achieved with a little more fuss and sets up a 5th Round clash against Venky’s Blackburn Rovers.
In truth, 2 different teams played each game. Not entirely a completely different first 11 but half of the side that beat Brighton & Hove Albion were not in action against West Ham. We all know how good the first team is and what they are capable of achieving, when they put their minds to it. However, the efforts of the replacements deserves admiration. It was never going to be easy to come into a game with different midfield partners around, and play as fluently as we normally do.
What was positive to see was that Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky played to a certain level which had equal measure of attacking creativity and defensive solidity. Much more time need to be spent of the training ground if this group desire to play at the same level as a group that comprises Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta. Positive signs, nonetheless. That said, in the end we still needed those players on the bench to eventually win the game, the little game time they had, will augur well for the coming match against Liverpool.
8 goals in the last 2 games with half of those goals coming from Olivier Giroud, currently the only recognised striker in the team. Say what you want about Theo Walcott but I believe that he is much better suited to play in his current wide right attacking role. The form of Giroud in recent weeks have been encouraging. No one is under any illusion that he is not an upgrade compared to the previous lone striker that played for us last season. However, Giroud is not the dud that people were painting him out to be, early in the season. What Giroud does bring to the party is not only the physical side of things. As his goals these past week proves, he’s more than capable of pulling out spectacular goals from his locker.
The cleverness of his runs is a big part of his game which the team can utilise. He’s not the quickest player around and may not have the perfect control, yet he’s a striker players love to play with. That’s the first thing you would notice about Giroud, his ability to bring others into the game. If there’s something for the big Frenchman to improve, is the timing of his jumps. Far too often, he lost the aerial challenges because he jumps earlier than the opponent. Improve on that and he can be one of the most troublesome striker to face, in the Premier League.
Giroud’s clinical finish wasn’t the only major talking point coming out of our match at American Express Community Stadium. The other had all to do about a banner. One in particular that says – “Arsene, thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye”. There will always be sections of the fanbase who will have contrasting opinions with the other sections. However, that should not preclude to the fighting that broke out at the AMEX Stadium after the unveiling of this said banner.
Unfurling this banner before and during a game, doesn’t help matters, in my humble opinion. Maybe it isn’t noticeable to the players and won’t affect them. Maybe none of the Arsenal staff sees it because they are far too concentrated on the game itself. However, as long as the game is still going-on, the best a fan could do is provide the support that the team needs. The discontent and anger can certainly be unleashed after the final whistle.
A matter of timing this one, just like Giroud’s jumping.