Winning doesn’t get much better than it did on Saturday against Chelsea and here I am midweek, still smiling and laughing every time I think about highlights from that game where we crushed Chelsea into dust. It may not have been a 7-0 drubbing, although it certainly could have been, but 3-0 at home against a team that has been a real thorn in our side is a massive victory and boost to morale. The entire team played so well it was hard to even pick a man of the match. Follow that victory with a 2-0 win over Basel in the Champions League, another match that was a masterful performance. One can really get used to winning like this.
The way we played both matches is exactly the kind of football we expect out of Arsenal especially with the amount of squad talent we have. Going into the match with Chelsea, I knew this game was going to be a test of how far we were and what we needed to improve. One could argue that the Liverpool match showed us that and to be fair that is true but Liverpool doesn’t have the animosity or the recent history of being a hurdle for us. With their Russian billionaire owner spending millions of pounds a year and Mourinho’s antagonistic style of play and baiting we have failed to show that the Arsenal way could overcome it. Finally we have shown that our style can work against them and we ripped them to shreds in the first half. Every pass, tackle and movement was nearly perfect. A true joy to watch. As we dominated them in possession and attacking chances, we were so solid in the back that I never felt like they were going to score. The ONE clear cut chance they had we snuffed out by the sprinting and well timed challenge of Hector Bellerin.
The match against Basel was the same. We were dominant and assertive as we controlled the game. Walcott in particular was outstanding in both matches. I single out Walcott not just because of the goals but because of his overall play has been to a new level that we have not seen out of him. Those who know me will tell you I have been on the “sell Walcott” side of the transfer speculation and if he plays like this all season I would be so glad to be wrong. I have often described of having only two modes: run and shoot. The last few matches he has showed us something new. He made defensive tackles, was effective in passing and made dangerous crosses. His decision making was superb and he made himself a presence throughout the match instead of fading like we expect him to do. Because Walcott was a better right winger, I feel like Sanchez is playing a better striker role as a result. I do not want to get carried away, obviously two matches isn’t a large enough sample for us to get an accurate conclusion but all the signs of a more cohesive attacking lineup are there. The drive needs to remain as we head into the weekend match against Burnley.
We made Chelsea look mediocre, we comfortably handled Basel, now comes another test: lower opposition. As a team we should smash, Burnley pose a threat to us because of how comfortable we have looked for the last few matches. We must not get ahead of ourselves and stroll onto the pitch as if we already won. To do so, would likely kill all the hard work and progress we have made. It is unrealistic to assume we will put 3 or more goals against every opponent this season but as long as we win and look strong in the process I think this squad this year can do something special. We just need to take each game slowly and build upon the successes of the previous matches. We still have to face the league leaders, Manchester City and it pains me to write this, Tottenham. If we continue this form we are on then I do not see why we can’t defeat them as well. City under Guardiola are dangerous for sure but we are showing what we can do as well. Tottenham are Tottenham, on their day they can play well but are just as capable of blowing up as we have been, ie final game of the season where they completely fell apart. I made a comment last week at the pub that if we continue our current form then the November 6th North London Derby is going to be a huge match for us. One that we cannot take lightly. It’s too early to worry about it now especially since we got other important matches ahead of it plus Goonerfest this week here in Charlotte.
Goonerfest weekend is this Saturday and Sunday. If you haven’t listed yourself as going to any of the events on Facebook yet, please do so, as we need a relative headcount. We have 3v3 street soccer hosted by Street Soccer 945, Footgolf at Sunset hills golf course and a brewery crawl on Saturday and the match on Sunday. We have visitors coming from many of the Carolinas Supporters groups. It’s going to be a great weekend.
Come on you Gunners!