Now Is The Time For This Arsenal To Shine
How about that for a weekend then? Aside from them up the road doing us a favour at the Bridge, that couldn’t possibly have gone much better.
A solid and fluid performance and confidence boosting goals for the two players that need it most; all having taken place on a glorious, spring afternoon, with sun shining and Gooners smiling. For me, that’s what football is all about – you have to accept the bad performances (United, City, Liverpool and Stoke away), bad luck (Villa, Stoke away, injuries) with the good times. The most important thing to remember during the bad times is not to implode. And the most important thing to remember during the good times is to enjoy it for all its worth.
So, we’re off to Wembley for the first time since Wojciech and Laurent did their Laurel & Hardy act on that grey, wet day. Part of me would’ve liked to take on Man City – as there’s nothing better than beating the best en route to glory. That said, Arsenal needs to get the trophy monkey off their back and Wigan, rather than City, on paper affords us a better chance of making the final.
The performance of the maligned Mesut Özil was a major positive – although I actually don’t think he’s been playing anywhere near as bad as it’s been made out. He was at the heart of our play and now looks to be building more of an understanding with Santi Cazorla – and, more importantly, vice versa. That, for me, is the key: the rest of the team has needed time to adjust to Özil’s movement, and metronomic ball retention, as much if not more than Özil has needed time to adjust to the Premier League.
Arsenal were at their best with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain running off the shoulder of Leighton Baines, and in the later stages with Tomas Rosicky bursting from slightly deeper. In the absence of Theo Walcott, Arsenal need pace in the final third and because of that a fit and firing Chamberlain is vital. And with that outlet, I’m convinced we’ll see a more effective Özil.
The coming weeks will again tell us more about the quality and temperament of this squad: so far this season they’ve come up short in the ‘big’ games, but now is their time to show they can perform on the big occasion.
I think most Arsenal fans have written off the Champions League; and like last season, the trip to Bavaria is almost pressure-free with nobody expecting the required 2-0, or better, away win that could see us through. Bayern Munich is the best team on the planet at present and the two away goal deficit is surely insurmountable. If only we had kept it to one-nil, this tie would be nicely poised. Oh to be a Gooner eh!
Ahead of tomorrow’s game we have the small matter of Sunday’s north London derby, and an opportunity for us to win a league match in their backyard (and what a shithole of backyard it is) since 2007. That’s a record that needs to be quashed almost as much as the nine year trophy drought. Let’s hope for more glory in the sunshine.