Wow. What on Earth was that? Can’t say I’ve ever witnessed a modern Arsenal team play like that. Sure, there’s been rare highs, little big ones, but nothing like that, nothing professional, nothing to make your eyes wide. But there we were… a football team – united. We were together. And every player on that pitch deserves their time in the light.
There are obvious standouts, because that’s how the game is, but as a team, collectively, we were sensational. I still can’t believe it. It may seem ridiculous and over-hyped on the outside to other fans, but for a long, long time Arsenal fans haven’t had reason to celebrate and cherish a win like Sunday’s. Away, to the Premier League Champions, and we snuffed out their fires, and lit up our own – and then danced around them. And yes, that is an obvious reference to our Spanish wizard, who was extraordinary, coming from his own far superior planet than everybody else on that pitch. He’s the labelled Player of the Week, and rightly so, even though I’m feeling high and happy to award it to the whole team.
Everybody pointed it out in the studios and twitter afterwards, but it was already clear after the first half who was running the show – Cazorla’s show. I heavily criticised him at the start of the season because he was dreadful, and his turn around has been timely and huge to Arsenal’s form and league table charge. It also puts the whole Silva-Cazorla debate to bed. Cazorla is two footed, already making him technically greater than most footballers. And I mean most. I mean, he’s really, really gifted when he’s at his beaming best. Twinkle-toes controlled the game, as usual, and danced out of tight areas, giving Arsenal some much needed respite and midfield dominance throughout. Then there’s his desire, which has hit the roof since his birthday. He spun out of trouble, then dribbled past one, then two, and then tackled with his face – how’s that for leadership? I don’t know what it is, but he looks like a leader now, or at least trying to be. Santi is taking all the set pieces – and delivering the goods. He’s not shying away anymore. Add that to his talent and there’s a world-class player in there. And for the insane scenario whereby Arsenal fans aren’t aware… he got the goal and the assist – and it was a really cheeky assist, too, and that isn’t just the free kick.
Then there’s the impressive Coquelin, and the fact that I can confidently write his name without googling how to spell it is a sure sign of how frequently I’m talking about him, and how important he’s becoming, however unlikely. It might be good luck (for him), or bad luck (for Arsenal due to injuries) that brought him back to Arsenal, but it is his solid, reassuring, and mature displays that have kept him in the Arsenal team. Incredibly, he has become a rock that can’t be moved. And if he keeps playing like his then I’m okay with that. I still want a battering ram, though. Still, the French midfielder was excellent at the Etihad, and shows that he has the head and talent for big games. Final note on Coquelin: he has an edge to him, and the Arsenal midfield is benefiting from it. I honestly can’t get over his performance, like Cazorla, he was immaculate.
Alexis was quiet, but he played for the team, and so did everybody else, and that’s why we won. Hopefully, the players can see this, and use it as a blueprint to success, because that’s essentially what Sunday’s win was.
It’s also very refreshing to see a keeper in goal that doesn’t feel you with absolute cringe-worthy dread. Our Columbian is sensible, that’s all our keeper needs to be, oh, and good, but he’s that too, so it’s all right.
And like Thierry said, when you have players in front of you doing what they’re paid to do, then defending as a team becomes much simpler. Our back five were magnificent, and so was Giroud who protected from the front – he also surprised me; he was very, very good.
And you can’t praise that win without giving Wenger his applause. He’s been abused all season, and most of it just, although, only to the point of criticism and not train station harassment. There’s nothing that makes me happier about Arsenal than when Wenger get’s it right, and with aplomb. And he did emphatically. He set up the team in a different and mature fashion and saw his talented-crew-of-cripples dismantle one of the most effective teams in Europe – dismantle with ease. This is a turning point for Arsenal, and it could also be for Wenger. We build on this, and we go the extra mile.
Bathe in the ecstasy of our win, because there’s always the chance that next week Arsenal will score three own goals.