Well I did not expect that. In fact, I was dreading the match beforehand but I was cheered up by the supporters who were behind the team from the start. The Chelsea fans began quite vocal but as the game progressed, the Gooners took over. The players were clearly bolstered by the support and; to a man, they fought and harassed the Chelsea players. Hazard was shackled and Costa got very little change out of BFG and young Holding. Sanchez tore them apart with Ramsey running them ragged from midfield. Costa tried everything, but he was handicapped by an ingrained fault in the Chelsea DNA, when under pressure, cheat!
Moses could not resist his dive and he and Chelsea paid the price. Hazard was anonymous the whole game and he rolled about in agony with 10 minutes to go from a non – existent foul by Monreal. Remarkably, when he realised that he wasn`t getting anything, the agony disappeared from his face and he jumped up to the stringent exhortations from Conte.
For the first time this year, our midfield of Ramsey, Xhaka and Ox dominated the opposition, which in this case happened to be the most efficient mid-field all year. It was brilliant to see the celebrations. At the end, Arsene was bouncing, as were the fans and the entire team were celebrating by dancing, hugging each other and squirting Champagne. On a fine summer’s day, our club was rejuvenated.
How important was it? It does not alter the fact that we did not achieve the top 4 which was Wenger`s own stated target. However, in recent weeks I have had to suffer my Spurs golf partner crowing about his great team. Saturdays result and the way it was obtained gave me a ray of sunshine. I was able to text him and say that “I had just realised that Mertesecker had won an FA cup in 97 minutes whereas Spurs have still won nothing after 9 years. Their cockerel has not crowed for all of those 9 years. He cancelled our golf for the next morning! It was like getting off the floor to land a knockout punch.
As a fan, these are the moments we cherish. As individuals, we cannot influence what goes on at the club but in our daily intercourse, we enjoy landing blows upon those unfortunates near to us who have been vanquished. How much easier will it be for Arsenal fans to go to work this week? How much happier are they after the result? For a while anyway, we have a defence to the jibes of the Spuds supporters. Although it was only one game, had the result gone as most people expected, it would have been a dull close season.
I have read that there are rumours that there is a rift in the Board and that there is a chance that important changes are due. My view for a long time is that Arsene must go. I am slightly leaning towards a view that he should not be beheaded. It is obvious that his mentor David Dein has never been replaced. Arsene`s best years were when he was beside him but he has made it clear that he will not accept anything other than complete control all aspects of the club. The match on Saturday showed;
- He can motivate a team. B. He can plan and provide tactics.
Given that, injuries and suspensions limited his possibilities with the squad available to him, particularly in Central Defence. To a man, all three of Holding, Mertesecker and Monreal were magnificent. They provided a platform for Xhaka, Ramsey and Ox to play their game and it was a pattern that was evident throughout the match. Kante and Matic were simply overrun. Matic should have had at least two yellow cards for reckless tackles. Monreal got one for far less than any of them.
The tempo of our game never faltered. Gone was the sideways and backwards passing which has infected and polluted our play and our passing was slick, with fast interchanges and intelligent running off the ball.
My position now is that if he can continue to extract performances like this, he deserves a remission. He could be restricted to a one-year extension, but I suggest that the two years, which he wants, is more sensible. He should be forced to relinquish the everyday running of the club to someone else while he delivers the same level of commitment to the football squad and it`s tactics. In the two extended years, his administrative colleague and he should work together to obtain his replacement.
A sophisticated, articulate Arsenal Man of Mystery. Aged 70 and a bit.