Pinch, punch, first of the month and all that.
And pinching is something we’ve been doing a lot of since Saturday. Did we really go to Stamford Bridge and become the first side in the Premiership era (the twentieth year of it, no less) to score five times? Did we really come from behind twice at a ground that has caused us so much grief over the past five years? Did we really concede another late wonder goal but bounce back to win anyway? Have we really put in a run of eight wins in nine, after the doom and gloom around the club only a short while ago?
Best of all, did karma really hit John Terry so hard that his view of our winner was face down in the dirt?
While it is important to remember that it represented only three points, it was a truly extraordinary game, and the sort that gives players a remarkable amount of confidence. If they can score five at Stamford Bridge (and miss a bunch of other chances), then surely they can be dangerous anywhere? Whether it becomes a turning point remains to be seen, but it is the sort of epic affair we’ll be seeing for years to come. How many times have you turned Sky Sports Classics on, and watched Spurs 4 Arsenal 5? Add this one to the list.
Of course it wasn’t perfect – our defence was breached three times, and that could have doubled in the first five minutes, were Chelsea not so wasteful. But it would be churlish to focus on that after such an unexpected day, and it is telling when you read people speaking about the game in a purely negative light. Paul Parker, an awful writer at the best of times, and one who can never disguise his resentment of Arsenal, continued his internet trollish ways by focusing entirely on Arsenal’s defence, exactly one week after he said that United’s wasn’t that bad. The day they conceded six.
There is a reason I’m not linking to the article – it isn’t a serious piece of journalism, it is a classic case of trying to get hits by being outlandish, similar to when he wrote that Wenger should apologise for Shawcross because the Stoke player was ‘so upset’ after breaking Ramsey’s leg. There are times when intentions are painfully transparent. But it is true that positive assessment of Arsenal has been hard to come by – Match of the Day struggled as well, with Alan Hansen choosing to berate Chelsea and call it freakish, rather than dare give us any credit. Strangely, it was left to Gary Neville to provide the best analysis – impressive that a man who spent years in an intense rivalry with Arsenal is so willing to put it all aside in the name of sensible punditry. Many could learn from him.
The fact is that the positives enormously outweighed the negatives. As far as bad things to say, I can’t get much further than this:
- In the first five minutes, we were all over the place.
- Santos had a ‘mare in the first half.
- Terry’s goal on the stroke of half time was poor.
Now compare that to the list of positives:
- We created more chances than I can remember in years at Stamford Bridge.
- Ramsey was superb in midfield, never better than his pass for our first.
- Walcott had perhaps his best game in an Arsenal shirt. His goal was brilliant, but his pair of passes for the early misses by Gervinho and Van Persie were sensational. Cole could not handle him.
- Van Persie scored a brilliant hattrick, the first by an away player at Chelsea since Kanu. That was a good day, too.
- Koscielny was superb. One day the press might actually notice how good he has been.
- Song controlled the midfield, and again showed his eye for a pass for Santos’ goal.
- Speaking of the Brazilian, his second half was the complete opposite of his first – he was excellent.
- We reacted to adversity well – twice behind, hit late on by a wonder strike, yet came back every time.
- John Terry. Ha.
If anything, the team that has something to worry about is Chelsea. Three of the goals involved Cech being beaten at his near post, and Van Persie’s second saw him charge so far out to close the angle that he ended up outside his area. Nowhere have I seen this mentioned, despite thinking he was having an absolute nightmare at the time. Three years ago, I don’t think anyone would have questioned the assertion that he was amongst the best keepers in world football. Is that really still the case?
As for our reliance on one striker, at least we have a free scoring one. And for all the criticism of Chamakh, at least our misfiring forward didn’t cost us £50m.
I don’t want to focus on Chelsea, because they will put the day aside as a freak, and will probably bounce back just fine. The important thing is that we take this momentum forward, and prove our many many doubters wrong.
I might go and watch the highlights again. Why not, eh?