Finding Our Form Again
It has been a while since my last entry but I have a valid excuse. I was trapped in Ohio. Not really. I went there of my own free will. Visiting family and all that. While enjoying an actual winter for once in northeastern Ohio, I got to watch a great match between Brighton and Arsenal in the FA Cup. I was hoping to get to Cleveland to watch the match with the Cleveland Gooners but family plans took precedent so I had to watch the match on my phone. Getting back mid-week threw me in a jam as the next match was close so I decided to hold off and wait until after the match against Villa. That was a treat by itself. All this and a couple signings in the January window means I am one happy Gooner.
Going into the FA Cup Match, the outlook on our chances of a Cup repeat looked exceptionally good on paper. Several key losses to the top clubs remaining in the competition. Chelsea lost, Manchester City lost and Tottenham lost. Liverpool and United still remain but I think we can handle them as our form is improving by the match. Lazy defending made the scoreline seem closer than it really was. 3-2 with goals from Walcott, Ozil and Rosicky (his goal was superb) made the day a good one as we advanced to the next round where we will face Middlesbrough at home. A great chance for us to continue our quest for another trophy to add to the display case in the Emirates.
The starting XI against Villa say a start for Walcott and Ozil, a first for them in a while as Alexis was rested while nursing a mild injury. Bellerin also kept his spot at right back. Arsenal dominated the possession almost from start to finish and it was from this strong possession that saw us get the opening goal. Giroud's clip over Guzan was excellent but the true beauty of the goal was from the assist. If you have not seen it (what are you waiting for?!), then you missed an exquisite pass from our record signing. The ball was played to him in the air and he expertly flicked the ball with a no look pass on the side boot right into the path of the onrushing Giroud, who had broken past the defenders. Giroud's first touch was good, the second not so much and you almost feared that he was going to lose the chance. He didn't as he chipped the ball over Guzan to make it 1-0. More Arsenal possession ensued and very little attacking threat from Villa as well which resulted in the halftime score being 1-0 although we should have had a few more goals had it not been for the good work of Guzan in the Villa goal.
The second half saw a bit more Villa possession but not much came out of it. The defending was solid on our part and we dug in to mount another attack. Giroud returned Ozil's favor with an assist as he played Ozil beyond the defense. Ozil took a touch and sent the ball a long way into the far post. You could say Guzan should have gotten more on it but it would harsh to the keeper who did his best to keep them in the match. 2-0. Arsenal got the third with a wonderful goal from Walcott who normally I criticize his first touch, but this one was great as he split the defenders and curled the ball around the keeper in the box to make it 3-0. 4-0 was not far off as Chuba Akpom (on for Giroud) drew a penalty from the Villa keeper. Cazorla sent his shot slightly to the keepers left but had too much power to stop as it nestled in the side back netting. The final goal came from Bellerin, his first, as he was played the ball by Cazorla. He side footed the worm burner of a shot from a decent distance and the ball hit the post and went in. 5-0 A good goal and one that was well deserved by the young right back.
It was a great confidence builder for us as we head into the match this weekend against Sp*rs at Shite Hart Lane. Five different goalscorers and no Alexis hopefully shut up the pundits and doubters who said we are a one main team. The credit goes to the whole team. Coquelin continued his good form with his tackling and distribution of the ball from the defenders. Bellerin also continues to improve every match and looks to developing his own style with his pace and crossing in attack and his ability to close down attackers. He still makes the usual young player error but I am feeling confident with him in the squad, deputized for the injured Debuchy. With Chambers set to be a center back, it is good to see our other young defender showing what he can do with the experience presented to him. He and Coquelin are really making cases for themselves for the future. Maybe not at Arsenal, but they are turning out to be fine players. I truly hope that they have a place in the future of this team because at the moment they deserve their places in the squad and until they show they can't handle it anymore, they should stay in the starting XI.
It should be noted that we spent money in this January transfer window. We purchased a young midfielder by the name of Krystian Bielik from Legia Warsaw in Poland. I do not know anything about the player except that Wenger seems to rate him highly and that he may push for the first team. Not the defensive midfielder we may be needing at the moment but with Coquelin performing well, I don't think we are in too much danger. Of course with our injury record that may not be smart.
The biggest transfer news was the signing of Gabriel Paulista from Villareal in Spain. I am not an avid watcher of Spanish football so I do not know much aside from the few highlights that popped up after we made the deal. He appears to be a solid player who will instill a bit of fear into our opponents attack. The Brazilian seems suited to playing at either center back position so it frees us up to rotate Mertesacker more and give Koscielny a rest to avoid any more injury flare ups. This signing I was most pleased about because we all know how much not having defenders has cost us this season. With Debuchy out for the long term again and Koscielny's reoccurring injury we truly needed some depth in out back four and we got it. I expect we will see Gabriel start soon to give a reprieve to either Mertesacker or Koscielny.
Arsenal got shafted with the early start time this weekend at White Hart Lane as we take on the shadow dwellers themselves. We passed them in the table as we sit in fifth. A win and a United loss could see us sitting third by the end of the weekend. Of course we need to outscore Southampton or see them drop points as well. I think we can do it. We need to displace United or Southampton and hold onto the top four places. Chelsea are probably too far out of reach and it would take a miraculous drop in their form to see us be able to catch them. I expect Alexis to start if healthy but Walcott loves a goal against the chicken shite scum as does Rosicky so I expect an appearance, starting or otherwise from each of them.
Time once again to show those rabble-rousers down the road that we are the ONLY team in north London. I ask you all one question:
What do we think of Tottenham?
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