What a weekend it has
been for us Arsenal fans. As if Liverpool losing at home and Manchester United
getting destroyed wasn’t enough to bring a smile to our faces, then overcoming
Stoke City at the Emirates to go to the top of the Premier League sure did the
Life is great right now if you’re a Gooner. Arsenal have
lost once since March, beat the Champions League holders on their own turf,
pipped Tottenham Hotspur to fourth, won 10 away games on the bounce, signed one
of the best players in the world and currently head the English top tier.
Yep, that’s a pretty impressive list of recent achievements for
Arsene Wenger and his side. Of course it hasn’t won us a trophy, and yes it is
only September, but you have to be some miserable, bitter fucker to be slating
the side now.
To the game itself, and over the years the Potters have
proved to be a bit of a bogey team for us, often bullying the Gunners off the
field and forcing their way into the back of the net with their aerial dominance.
However, under the brilliant boss that is Mark Hughes, Stoke have done the
unthinkable and adopted a new style of play.
Having covered them once or twice for work, I must say that
they are playing some nice stuff, and fair play to them as it can’t be that
easy to adjust to a new manner of play overnight. Despite their attempt at total
football, Stoke still possess some pretty nasty, big dudes, who would have no problem
in chopping down an Arsenal man.
However, Arsenal rallied to an impressive 3-1 win on Sunday
thanks to goals from Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna (of all duos?!) after
Geoff Cameron had cancelled out Aaron Ramsey’s (who else) opener.
There is a lot to be positive about due to this result, but
here are my top five reasons to be cheerful following the win over Stoke.
Top 5: Positive points from the win over Stoke
As I touched on earlier, previous meetings between the two
sides have pitted flair football against brute force. However, it was almost a
role reversal of kinds at the weekend. Stoke did try to play their nice new
expansive style of football and they did do well in parts.
However, you can’t outplay Arsenal at the Emirates (most of
the time anyway) and we pulled off some beautiful football at times as well
through the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and, of course, Mesut Ozil
But what pleased me the most about our win was the fact that
all three of our goals were as a result of set-pieces. That must be some kind
of club record, especially under Wenger, but it just goes to show that we do
possess a plan b when we have the likes of Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny,
Mertesacker, Sagna and company who can challenge in the air. We no longer has
to pass our way into the back of the net.
It does help when you have a little wizard like Ozil
supplying quality cross after quality cross, but we have improved huge amounts
when it comes to attacking set-plays.
If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think we have even
seen us at our best yet, but you know what they say about winning when you’re
not playing well…
I’m not here to say I told you so or anything like that, but
I was quite surprised at the negative reaction most Gooners gave on hearing the
news that we had resigned Mathieu Flamini.
I can understand why due to the way he left the club, the
fact that he didn’t cost any money and also because he hadn’t exactly shone at
the San Siro, but for me he has been one of the reasons for our recent victories.
He picked up Man of the Match, which tells you everything when he is
playing alongside the players that he is right now, and has epitomised
commitment, passion and leadership with warrior-like performances against
Spurs, Sunderland, Marseille and now Stoke.
He does all the unattractive work, but he is so determined to prove that
he deserves to be in the team and he is proving a lot of people wrong at the
moment. Flamini put in another good defensive display and was frequently firing
up his teammates, pointing, applauding and keeping the tempo high and is
showing why he is such a key part of the team at the moment.
Not bad for a home debut eh? Three assists against one of
the most physical teams in the Premier League on his first appearance at the
Emirates Stadium was remarkable from Ozil.
His style is made for our team, and it is brilliant to have
him slot into the Arsenal team like he has been here for years. The big boys at
the back and Giroud will certainly love having his inch-perfect passes finding
them time after time, and who knows, he may even make Nicklas Bendtner look a
world beater before long.
He wasn’t bullied out of the game either, and was still able
to prove why Gooners are so hyped about the German at the moment. He tops the
league’s assist chart and has only played two games! I could get used to this.
2. Arteta return
The return of El Capitan is fantastic for a number of
Reason number one is because he is a fantastic player for
the team. Not only does he possess the ability that he does, but Mikel Arteta
is also a leader and a key man for Wenger due to his experience.
Reason number two is because he is now another option. Given
our midfield talent, Arteta will certainly not just waltz his way back into the
team, but due to our paper-thin squad, his return means that some other players
can take a timeout; mainly Wilshere, who has performed very well considering
his recent fitness issues.
I expect him to play a part against West Bromwich Albion on
Tuesday night in the Capital One Cup, and it is brilliant to see him back in an
1. Top of the league
Does this really need explaining? Yes it’s early and we
still have to play the league’s big boys, but let’s enjoy it while we’re here.
Who’s to say that we won’t head the table for a while?
The longer we stay top, the more Arsenal will grow in
confidence, and we are already looking extremely convinced in our own talent so
far this season. We’ve lost one match since March, which was unlucky in itself,
but United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs have all shown that
they are not unbeatable.
I think it could be a very open title race this year, and we
could see frequent changes in who sits in first place. It may sound obvious,
but the longer we stay top, the better chance we have of winning back our crown,
and right now we don’t look like we’re going to be knocked off in a hurry.
Please leave a comment or give me some feedback on
Twitter and let me know your views, I love to hear them.
And remember, never forget you’re a Gooner!
Matt has been the editor of the site since June 2012 and was born into a Gooner family 21 years ago. He recently graduated from Southampton Solent University with a degree in Sports Journalism and strives to work in the Sports Media industry. As well as currently working as a reporter for Sports Mole and TIBS News, Matt has been providing football commentary for the visually impaired since 2008 at Arsenal, Exeter City and Wembley.
His earliest Gunners memory is watching the ‘Boring, boring Arsenal’ VHS as a six-year-old on repeat, to the extent where he could recite most of the commentary from that season. Matt was lucky enough to witness Arsenal lift the Premier League in 2002 as well as being present during the last match at Highbury in 2006, and at Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial a few months later at the Emirates Stadium. Matt’s favourite players include Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Tony Adams, with the 5-3 comeback victory against Middlesbrough in 2004 the best match he has ever spectated.
Matt is an optimistic ’In Wenger we trust’, kind of guy and believes that the glory days are not too far away…
Apart from his editorial duties, Matt will also be bringing his Arsenal knowledge to a column called “Where Are They Now?” – which focuses on former Gunners.