So, we played Citeh at the Etihad and walked out deserved winners with smiles wider than the original Cheshire Cat. Wasn’t too shabby a result really. Just scraped through. Two nil, away to the current league Champions. Worth having a beer or two to celebrate, but alas, Dryathlon calls again and this guy hasn’t touched a drop of that wonderful stuff since New Years Eve. It hurts ladies and gents, don’t put yourself through this, it’s not worth it.
My Alcohol self abuse aside, there has been more to celebrate with a cup tie against Brighton, which saw us progress through to the next round of the FA Cup where there won’t be a Chelski, or a Citeh, Or the Scum from the lane, Or Swansea or indeed Southampton who have flattered this season with their longevity in the top four. In truth Brighton didn’t provide too much in the way of a threat, the scoreline flattered them a little with our mistakes gifting them opportunities to score. Had our position been under threat I’m sure we would have stepped up a gear and put the tie to bed.
This has been an exciting period where we have seen players perform almost above expectation, but not beyond their skills. We have seen Santi grab the game by the scruff and force it to dance to his tune, which is a lilting melody played by delicate fingers on a Ukulele, fast, precise and wonderful. Coquelin has come of age, just in time to sign a new contract, or walk on a free, but as with all things, you pays your money and you takes your chance. Whilst Coquelin showed early promise, impatience at the lack of game time ended with a loan move to Freiburg where he didn’t exactly pull up any trees. Failing to convince anyone of his potential but needing games, we shipped him out to Charlton and he found his game there. After some good performance, our paucity in central defensive midfield opened up an opportunity for him to return and full credit to the lad, return he has. His performances since returning to Arsenal have really put Flamini in the shade and he has stamped his authority on this Arsenal side. Forget the obvious barking orders and scampering about(which has been brilliant!), his ball-recovery has been very impressive indeed. His positioning is also excellent, he seems to read the game well and be in the right place to block the key passes which could hurt us. He has real potential, I hope we can get him to put pen to paper. At the very least he has earned another contract.
We have also had big players come back from injury and it was the return of the mercurial Ozil that captured most of my interest, I know what I will get from Theo and whilst I might demand more, the speed-freak with the fast snap finish is what he is and I accept that. He is a good player, but in Ozil I feel we could have something amazing, he just needs to find his rhythm, much in the same way Santi has.
Ozil has an unerring way of making the complicated seem simple, the wonderful appear effortless but yet his languid style attracts criticism from those unable to see past it. His class is obvious to me in the way that Bergkamp’s was. It’s not the way he runs that interests me in Ozil, it is his pinpoint control andhis ability to pick a pass where the opposition just can’t see it. In Ozil we have a player that can bring out even more from Alexis and Welbeck. Two power runners who can scrap for the ball, but can also out-strip most Premier League defenders for pace. Ozil can pick these guys out time after time. Our attack will be frightening.
Ozil used to get bullied out of the game, teams would double-up on him to stop him receiving the ball, but now, with the other obvious threats in the team such as Alexis, Santi and Giroud, teams will have plenty to worry about for spring 2015.
If you thought 2014 was good, Arsenal have the potential to make 2015 even more memorable. Close your eyes, spin around and tap your heels together. Dorothy we are going back to the top.
‘Til tomorrow when I might write something about Villa keep it simple, keep it safe, keep it Arsenal