28 December 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen, the comedic stylings of Per Mertesacker...

It was just minutes after Gabriel had opened his Arsenal account, mere minutes after he had become the latest of three Arsenal defenders to score more Prem goals this season than Eden "better than Ronaldo" Hazard—joining Koscielny and Gibbs—that Per Mertesacker threatened to make it four. That's right—but for the bouncing of the ball, Arsenal could have conceivably fielded a back four consisting of defenders who have outscored last season's PFA Player of the Year. Sadly, it was not to be. Gabriel, perhaps hungry for his second, sent a glancing header towards the far post, leaving Bournemouth keeper Artur Boruc flailing rather helplessly. The ball bounced once and headed to that far post. Enter, stage right, one Per Mertesacker!

With Boruc on the ground, the BFG ran to the post, eager, perhaps to join the ranks of those who might enter the conversation for who's currently better than Ronaldo. All it would take would be for Per to nudge the ball in after it hit the post.

Easy peas.

Easier said than done, sadly.

The ball had other plans on this day. Not twice would it be headed home. Not on this of all days. Once? Sure. Why not? Twice? Hell would have to freeze over...or Man U would have to win a match, whichever comes first. No, instead of letting either of those unthinkable abominations come to pass, the Fates decided to deny Per his chance at glory, short-hopping off the post to his noggin, slapping him upside the head, and bouncing harmlessly out of bounds.

Per went down like Glass Joe, sprawled out on the mat. Gone, dribbling away, was his chance at glory. In its place was a piece of woodwork offering much more support to the family jewels than he or Ulrike might care for. I'm sure his ego (if nothing else) will need some massaging...

More seriously, the result gives us a chance to enjoy some postponed pleasure: we're now top of the league pending the Leicester-Man City clash on Tuesday. Call me crazy, but I hope we find ourselves staring up once again at the Foxes. A loss for Man City should play to our advantage as I'm still not convinced that Leicester can keep up this pace. Even if the they come through their toughest string of fixtures bathed in glory, I'd much rather they take all three than share a point (or see Man City take all three).

As for us, we staggered rather than swaggered through our own match. It might have been nice to see us win more convincingly, to thrash Bournemouth more roundly—but I don't fault Per for that. The Cherries don't lay down and take it (as shown by wins over Man U and Chelsea...even if that means far less these days than in years past). We had a job to do, and we did it. Pedestrian though it may have been, there's no arguing with the result. Rather than quibbling and parsing the process, enjoy the fact that we took care of business and are now top of the league.

Long may we reign...