It’s been an interesting week in the world of football, that’s for sure. Man City getting knocked out of the Champions League was big news and Chelsea defeat to Juventus yesterday also putting Chelsea on the edge, resulting in the departure of Roberto Di Matteo. It made the evening even more telling – the Champions League is no mug’s game, it’s proper teams versus proper teams. Home games don’t necessarily mean home victories, and we saw that when we played Schalke here last time out.
Tonight’s game was very very important, and the team line up saw Oxlade in for Walcott and the likes of Gibbs and Gervinho on the bench:
Sagna – Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c)
Arteta – Wilshere
Oxlade – Cazorla – Podolski
We didn’t quite get going until the second half, but the first half did show us a few things… The back four seems more balanced with the four players in the line up. I’m not sure who will give way for Gibbs on the weekend, all three centre backs (including the captain) showing good form – but I think Mertersacker and Koscielny are the best partnership.
The stand out player today was Wilshere – he was everywhere, and he just brings so much energy to the midfield – he’s an inspiration to the rest of the rest of the team. And it was fitting that he scored the first goal… some excellent play and an excellent header down into Jack’s path followed by a sublime lift over the keeper from the midfielder.
And it was Giroud who was involved again, for an amazing goal. A one-two with Podolski saw the German strike an excellent finish – RvPesque to be honest. I can’t describe it – you have to watch it:
It’s a great goal. I can watch it time and time again. It reminds me of what RvP was doing last season. If Podolski can start reproducing this game in and game out, it will be a really good catapult up the various tables & competitions we’re trying to win!
Arsene spoke after the game and praised Jack:
“He’s getting strong physically. Tonight he got in the box – he’s the complete midfielder you know. I believe he can defend well, attack well and these kinds of matches will give him confidence.”
We’ve got one more game in the league which could make the difference between finishing first or second… but in reality, either position has a certain level of difficulty:
“We will try to finish top of the group. You always feel a bit guilty if you don’t do it. There are groups where you have Dortmund first, Real Madrid second – you don’t really know what is the best. In this competition you just want to get to the next round and win the game. That’s all you can do. Now of course we go into a cup (knock-out) competition which is a little bit different. We have some time and it’s important we go into March with our best team available.”
A great goal from Podolski, a great performance by Jack, a clean sheet, progression to the next round. Happy days for the Arsenal, and time to rest and recuperate for the Villa game…