20 October 2013

Arsenal 4-1 Norwich: Bringin' Sexy Back...

Wow. Just...wow. That was one of the sexiest goals I have seen in a long, long time. That it involved no fewer than six touches in less than six yards and in less than two seconds? Sublime. Scintillating. Sexy. I refer of course to Jack Wilshere's goal,
his second goal in his last two appearances, which involved such a sparkling sequence that it's already emerged as a candidate for goal of the year. Sure, we're only eight matches into a 38-game season, but it was so beautiful that it's going to take something truly miraculous, probably with blindfolds, flaming hoops, and a rabid spider monkey to top it.

Cazorla to Wilshere, Wilshere back to Cazorla, Cazorla to Giroud, Giroud to Wilshere back to Giroud back to Wilshere and in. By the time this sequence had passed, Wilshere found himself through on goal with four flat-footed Canaries so befuddled that all they could was watch. It was almost as if they wanted to watch, if only to have a bit-part in this flowing canvas of football, the better to appear in the background of such a work of art than to mar it by interfering.

I don't mean to do a disservice to Norwich, for, truth be told, no defense could have done much to stop that. I know that I had suggested there would be moments of brilliance on a day that saw Cazorla and Özil together, but I didn't imagine that goal. It was almost good enough to make the other goals pale by comparison. We could, for example, nit-pick Cazorla's pass to Giroud as being a foot behind him; nonetheless, the Frenchman collected his second assist with a well-timed lob into the box to find Özil on a lung-busting run, who headed home from 12 yards out. Similarly, we could nag Ramsey and his goal by asking why he didn't find Mertesacker instead of shooting. Lastly, it might have been nice for Özil to have played to Wilshere instead of finishing Ramsey's lay-off himself. This is all of course a matter of comparison; each goal on any other day would have been wondrous and beautiful. It's just that, on this day, no other goal could compare.

The game wasn't without its moments, of course, and Norwich looked much livelier than the scoreline suggests, especially after Flamini went off with an injury after clobbering Tettey. I was almost hoping he'd draw a yellow-card to get suspended for the match against Crystal Palace and clear his slate, but Norwich threatened quite enough after Flamini was subbed off, thank you very much. For as snarky as we were when Flamini came back (He's French! He's free!), his grit has been vital, and his absence challenged us to get sorted before Norwich took advantage. Their goal came off a nice bit of work, assisted by a poor clearance from Mertesacker and feeble closing-down from Gibbs, but credit goes to them for a strong sequence. Ramsey's goal, a nifty series of cutbacks in the box, left three defenders on the floor and all but settled the outcome, though, and after a tetchy draw with West Brom, it's nice to see us go out and run away with a game rather than have to dig in and scrape out a 1-0 win.

There was a nice bit of rotation involved, too, with Rosický relieving Cazorla at 59' and Bendtner taking over for Giroud at 78'. As we look ahead to hosting Dortmund on Tuesday, this is no small matter. We've accomplished a number of goals, then: taking three points that we need, giving Cazorla and Özil time to get acquainted, and staying relatively fresh for Tuesday's clash. Those three points earned will be important come May; we saw Liverpool and Man U draw and thereby drop points that they may come to rue, but Spurs, Chelsea, and Man City kept the pace with their wins. We've taken 19 points from 8 matches and may need 85 to 90 to win the Prem. For as strong as we've started, we've yet to face Chelsea, Man U, or Man City. When the fixture-list was announced, I stated that "if we're not at or near the top of the table at the end of October, we'll really only have ourselves to blame." We're almost there, with one match still hanging in the balance. Not bad.

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