Arsenal went ahead after Welbeck was brought down in the box and Cazorla coolly slotted home the penalty, and although Palace looked to be the more-dangerous side, it was Arsenal who went into halftime up 0-2 after Giroud poached a spilled Speroni save to score his 50th goal for Arsenal (and our 13th goal scored in stoppage time this season). Zaha threatened to turn Monreal inside out on countless occasions, but there was no final product to speak of. But for some woeful shooting from the Eagles, it might have been a very different match. I'd love to say we were sitting back to soak up pressure and hit on counters, but only part of the story as Pardew's men had us on the backfoot for long stretches. When Murray nicked a late goal, it felt like it was a long time coming. Seconds later, Murray very nearly equalised with a well-struck header that hit the post. A dramatic finish, but we kept three points on a day when Chelsea drew at Burnley and Swansea defeated Man U. More on that later. For now, rate our lads in the poll below...
21 February 2015
Chamakh. Sanogo. Two one-time Gunners, two towering presences along the front line. One brings the hair; t’other, the chaos. Together, they could terrorize the Arsenal defense, and—oh. Sanogo can’t play against Arsenal? More’s the pity. Then again, he’s hardly found time on the pitch, begging certain questions about the purpose of the loan. More to the point, though, Palace’s attack hardly depended on ol’ Yaya in the first place (or Chamakh, for that matter). So who are we up against?
19 February 2015
How I love painting entire swaths of the population with one brush. Stereotypes are, after all, a real time-saver. Who has the time these days to understand nuances and complexities, let alone facts, when a few quick generalizations are usually enough to encapsulate the entire experience of hundreds of thousands of people on the basis of the actions or opinions of a vocal few? Hang it all, man, my attention span is short and the outrages are many, so I, like most, don't have the time, inclination, or ability to suss out the details. Far better to seize on the nearest available piece of evidence or misremembered fact and go from there (easier, too!). And that brings me to Adrian Durham's latest bit of drivel. Yes, I know that referring to Durham's drivel is both alliterative and redundant, but give me credit for not including dross or droolin' as well. Overkill. Subtlety is, after all, a calling-card of mine...
16 February 2015
Man U. That's who we'll face in the FA Cup quarterfinal. To go by the reactions on twitter, reddit, and other platforms, we've been handed a death-sentnence, and there's little left to do other than reprise the role we played in the 8-2 thrashing we suffered back in 2011, or, failing that, to once again succumb meekly to the hoodoo that is Old Trafford. We could have drawn Aston Villa or Reading or West Brom—thank all that is holy that we didn't draw Bradford or Blackburn—but, no, we had to face Manchester effin' United. Even against Liverpool, we might find comfort in reminding ourselves of how well we beat them last season in the fifth round. Against Man U, at Old Trafford no less, we're apparently already ousted.
Against Middlesbrough, we witness a sumptuous goal the likes of which we haven't seen in a while, the kind that remindus us all of what this squad is capable of and what its manager's vision can look like when brought to fruition. 26 minutes in, a sequence started that involved all eleven players on the pitch and as many as 15 passes before culminating in Giroud's deft finish, a near-perfect distillation of Wengerball at its best. Everyone was involved, the passing and off-the-ball movement seemed symphonic, the assist came from a left-back bombing forward into space behind a befuddled defense, and the finish came from no more than six yards from goal. It was brilliant, but we'd do well to beware its blessing for the curse it might hide.
15 February 2015
Olivier Giroud scored twice in two minutes, both of them deft near-post one-touch finishes, and Arsenal booked its place in the FA Cup sixth round with a confident if not commanding victory. Middlesbrough had a few chances, but ultimately there was little doubt as to the outcome. It may have lacked the swash-buckling style that some might have hoped for, but also absent was the tetchier, arse-clenching moments other Prem sides have suffered. Have your say in the ratings-poll below. For what it's worth, I've dropped subs from the poll as they haven't had enough of an impact to register. We'll take a closer look at the match itself later. For now, enjoy the fact that we're through to the next round with no fresh injury-worries. On to the poll...
It was looking more and more like a clearing of the decks for us, what with heavy hitters like Chelsea, Tottenham, and Man City already knocked out of the FA Cup, Man U needing a replay to overcome League 2 Cambridge, and Liverpool on the ropes against Crystal Palace. Man U made it through, of course, and will face Preston on Monday, and Liverpool found a way past Palace, and it's possible that three of the Prem's top seven could advance to the sixth round. Rather than counting chickens before they've hatched, though, we have a match of our own to deal with against Middlesbrough. It might have been comforting to learn that Liverpool had gone down in flames at Selhurst Park, but their result matters not whit until we earn ours—and perhaps not even then.