I’m not going to lie, by the 80th minute my nails were in tatters and my bottom lip had been bitten to pieces. I shouted, I flailed my arms in exasperation and I even had my face in my hands in disbelief. Then, finally, a decision went our way in the strangest manner possible, or at least not the strangest, but the most unlikeliest manner.
We were awarded a fortunate corner after tireless chasing by Ramsey, Giroud was hauled down in the box, denied a goal-scoring opportunity and Arteta buried the penalty with a cool swagger and a steely determination. If ever there was a player who has given everything this season, Arteta is that player. He has been exceptional all season. It says a lot about him that he can play to such an impeccable standard every game and we hardly notice it because it is the norm. He is consistently played as a holding midfielder/deep-lying playmaker and whilst that has never been his position in the past, he has grown into the role. He isn’t a Frimpong, he isn’t a hard-as-nails, physical presence but he plays his position extremely well and a lot of good things come from his intelligent passing and control of possession.
He is so damn cool.
From that point, it seemed that everything we did going forwards seemed to click and Norwich were rattled. They made simple mistakes, but it took further fortune for us to win the game. It has seemed at times this season that luck has avoided us somewhat, but never let it be said I wouldn’t take it when we get it. I’d take it every time. Every single time.
Importantly we seemed to have that elusive quality which is – dare I say it, strength in depth. Arsene, much-maligned for his tactical nounce and ability to deal in the transfer market hit back with a bang. When it looked like it wasn’t working he brought on Walcott, Podolski and eventually Oxlade-Chamberlain. Three players with pace, attacking ability and the quality to put any side to the sword and they came from our substitutes bench.
I think special mention should go to Aaron Ramsey who not only had a great game harrying, creating and generally being a threat throughout, but then at the end of the game moved to right-back for Sagna so the Ox could come on. Even from right-back he managed to create real chances. He is such a dangerous player for us at the moment and he is still so young. People hate Arsene for selling us the future, but a future with Rambo, Jack, Jenko, Ox, Walcott, Gibbs, Fabianski, Szczesny, Eisfeld, Gnabry, Afobe and Miyaichi in it excites me somewhat. That is before considering any other signings that would strengthen the line-up.
The future is bright, but right now, the present feels pretty darn good too!