21 August 2013

Arsenal 3-0 Fener: Back in the 'effin saddle

Fantastic, fantastic performance all the way around. After a up-and-down first half that saw us hold on to the ball but fail to generate any real shots on goal, the second half saw us unlock what had been a stubborn defensive effort, especially from Volkan, who snuffed
out anything we could throw in. This is a fantastic result that all but guarantees that we qualify for the Champions League group stage, restores a bit of confidence, and generates some momentum going into the weekend.

The first half was tetchy; Wilshere had to briefly leave the pitch for treatment and, worse, Koscielny leave for good for stitches. Bizarrely, Webo's high kick, which caught a fully-upright Koscielny on the forehead, warranted only a yellow-card. Fortunately, Jenkinson came on and Sagna moved to center-back, and a few minutes after half-time (51'), it mattered far less who was on our back-line as Gibbs finished a pretty sequence: Ramsey slotted a pass into the box for Walcott, who put it across the mouth of goal (surprisingly, Volkan was rooted to his line), and Gibbs, coming on to the far post, left little doubt with his finish. In the 55th, however, Webo struck again, kicking Szczesny with his heel as he bundled over our keeper. He even had the gall to look for a penalty-kick, somehow overlooking the fact that it was his heel that struck Szcz's face.

No matter. In the 64th minute, Ramsey, looking bright and lively all evening, sliced through the midfield and unleashed a beautiful rabbit-chaser to the left-post that Volkan could only get finger-tips to, and it was 2-0. In the 77th, Walcott got in the box and earned a penalty, which Giroud finished tidily, making it 3-0. By this point, the traffic was Arsenal's way. Sczcesny came up with three tough saves at close range to keep the clean sheet, and Jenkinson nearly added to the scoreline in the final seconds of injury-time, but Volkan was able to paw his shot over.

All in all, it was a strong, dominant performance that should remind us of what we're capable of when we click. This doesn't mean that the problems exposed against Aston Villa and that we've fretted about over the last few weeks are gone, by any means, but in the emotional roller-coaster that all fans ride, we are at least ascending again.

We'll return with a closer look at statistics and so on. For now, however, bask in the glory of the moment. Scoring three away-goals in such a tricky environment is a fine testament to our squad and bodes well for our fortunes going forward. Brilliant.