Supporter Aaron Ong watched the Gunners see off a plucky Brighton outfit in the FA Cup and says progressing to the next round is all that matters in a weekend of upsets.Wasn't that a terrific FA Cup weekend? Terrific if you support a team that actually made it through to the next round, of course. Neutrals would no doubt have enjoyed the giant-killing acts by teams from the lower divisions, and that's really what the FA Cup is all about - a chance for relative minnows to have a real go at the big guns.
This past weekend's results also help us put things in perspective. Our 3-2 win over Brighton wasn't our best performance of the season (by far!), but when stacked next to defeats suffered by Norwich, Liverpool, and the Spurs *chuckles*, we should realise that progress to the next round is really the most important thing.
In reality, there are very few EASY games nowadays and it must be noted that Brighton dumped out Premier League opposition in the previous round. They played their hearts out and produced some excellent football, but we did just enough to pip them to the win.
Enough has been said about our defensive lapses, so I won't repeat those points here. It would probably be as frustrating to read the same words, as it is for us Gooners to watch those tactical errors and lapses of concentration repeated game in game out.
Still we did eke out the win without our first choice midfield and full-backs. Resting first-teamers is often a forgotten positive, but it is vital we rotate our squad in this hectic season, and do so without adding unnecessary replays to our schedule.
Speaking of positives, two players made significant strides in this win: one obvious, and the other not so much.
The obvious one is (obviously) our brace-grabbing French striker Giroud. Four goals in two games is a healthy return, but it was the manner of his goals that caught my attention.
The first was a beautiful curler into the top corner, and the second was a no-nonsense smashed effort after holding off his marker. Finesse and strength in a deadly combination. He’s brimming with confidence at the moment, and his goals will come in handy to offset the mistakes we make at the back.
The other player is my namesake Ramsey, who played in the ‘Arteta’ position for the second game in a row. Ramsey certainly looks more at home in that role compared to his time spent on the wing, and his passing ability allows us to transition smoothly from defence to attack. It is this outlet that our centrebacks rely on and Ramsey (for now) is a better option than Coquelin, who still needs to work on that side of his game.
Ramsey has come under much criticism for the crime of being played out of position, so it’s only fair that he receives credit when he contributes to the team in a positive manner. He’ll be reunited with Wilshere and Cazorla when we play Liverpool in midweek, and similar displays will ensure the absence of Arteta is felt less.
The future’s looking a lot brighter after these past two wins, with the upcoming fixtures looking extremely encouraging. Five of our next six games are at the Emirates, so if we can translate our usual dominance on home soil into victories, we may find ourselves in a super-healthy position on all three competition fronts come the end of February.
Come on you Gunners!
Aaron has been an Arsenal fan since the mid 90's, and is currently a member of Arsenal Singapore, the official Arsenal supporters' club in Singapore. He is also a passionate Lions supporter, and he still dreams of seeing Singapore compete in the World Cup someday.