By Brian Perceful
All you can do is take care of what is put in front of you. This especially applies on these cold European nights. Finally its really starting to feel that this side is out to take care of business. Sure the results weren't optimal for us today but we still got it done. A Dortmund/Napoli draw would have done a lot for our qualification aspirations. But again, all you can do is take care of the business placed in front of you. In two weeks it will all take care of itself. Especially if we take care of business.
I thought this was a frustratingly good performance from the Arsenal. One of those games that we really could have put up half a dozen or so. A defensive lapse at the opening whistle was one of only two times I really think that Marseille gave us a worry. The threat was dealt with nicely and turned into a great break down the right side. This would be a recurring theme the entirety of the first half. The combination of Wilshere and Sagna were constantly marauding up and down the right flank. Jack's goal was a thing of composed beauty. Jack looked a player with a chip on his shoulder who was on a mission to shut up the haters. That baby was a top corner curler all the way. The expanse of the onion bag confirmed the beauty of the strike and we were off and running.
It was almost as if Marseille mailed it in after that. Whiz Khalifa's dad constantly got pimped. How Giroud didn't get a penalty for the raping he got on the free kick is beyond me. I'm not one to play up the refs but that linesman really needs to not sniff a sideline again. How many times were we robbed on a bogus offside call? I lost count. The back judge lived up to his hype as a pointless addition to the ref squad. Last time I checked the keeper couldn't leave his line that quick on a pk. Poorly taken by Ozil but a replay should have been in order. Unlucky to have not gone in at half up at least 2 we had to settle for a single goal to be the difference in our favor.
Second half was much of the same as we continued to waste chances. The introduction of Flauvin for Marseille finally gave them some teeth in attack. Personally I like that kid. He is crafty and seems to have a good footballing head on his shoulder. He immediately caused us problems as we worked across our back line. His shot was well placed but as we've seen all year the big Pole between sticks had the answer. What a reaction save! That shot had some serious heat on it but Szcez's stop was brilliant. That really seemed to have taken whatever wind Marseille got in the sails with their subs out. In what I think could be a huge goal for our European season, Jack Wilshere seized upon a brilliant Ozil pass to do what Ramsey should have done in the first half...finish it high. He did and got his brace. 2-nil to the Arsenal.
Here's some thoughts I had as the game wound to a close. What a great feeling it is to be able to toss out an Arteta and Walcott off the bench. When we are fully healthy, and I know it's a big if, there aren't many teams in the BPL as deep as us. If we add a decent forward in the window I really think we are poised for a great run. It was so nice to see us not have to chuck on some junior player or some dude we've never heard of from France. If Sagna re-signs with us we have a team on paper that is set up for a good run over the next 3-5 years. If not let's go get another good right back to battle with Monreal. Second, I'm really running out of superlatives for Wojiech. I was telling my buddy about 2 seaons ago that I think most of our back line problems stem from lack of stability and class between the sticks. I don't think I seen Szecz play with this much confidence. Heck, I haven't watched him with this much confidence. We haven't had anyone dominate the box the way he does since Big Jens at least 6 years ago. This is a huge strength for us and the boy is only going to get better.
If you'd have told me we could nab 12 points in our group but still not qualify I'd think you're crazy. Unfortunately this is the boat we find ourselves in. You know what...screw it. If we are in the so called "group of death" I want it like this. Bring us the best group stage teams we can get. This has been a huge test for us and I think we've performed extremely well. Our only blip has been dropping 3 points at home to last season's runners up. Afterwards we promptly became the first English team to beat them on their own turf. The same can't be said for our pissant neighbors to the west who continue dropping matches to Swiss powerhouses. All that being said we are in a good spot.
We are 4 points tops in the league. The opportunity to win our group in Europe is completely in our hands. It's been a great half a season for us Arsenal fans. If we are top of the league come Jan 1 it will have been almost 3 months that we have been leading the thing. We've developed some great depth and are a signing or two away from really being solid all the way across the board. Our patience is being rewarded. It's been a while since I've been this hopeful as a fan this far after the first kickoff back in August. Here's to taking care of business!
By Stacey Dunbar
There once was an Arsenal where a 1-0 lead was a terrifying lead to
have. The thought of "how are we going to screw this up" was one that
Arsenal fans knew all too well. That thought, however, seems to be
fading into the distance, just like Sp*rs Top 4 chances.....wait I
think Man City just scored again.... The days of defensive gaffs and
mental lapses seem to be something that this squad, thankfully,
avoids. After yesterday's early Christmas gift that Southamptons
goalkeeper gave us, Arsenal seemed to be without the ball for long
stretches. Unlike in years previous, it seemed as though Arsenal were
quite fine with that. They maintained their shape and discipline and
never really gave Southampton a sniff in the attacking third. The
defensive structure and understanding that resides in this years
Arsenal side is a major reason why we are four points clear at the top
(8 points clear of 8th place Sp*rs). The ability to cope while not
having the ball will be an invaluable trait to have when closing out
games, wether domestic or in Europe. Having more than one style, more
then one way to win, is what makes this team, this year, exciting to
watch. There's something to be said for being able to grind out a
result while not having your best game. That is exactly what Arsenal
did yesterday. The second goal came and the points were ours, but at
1-0, we were comfortable, composed and looked as though we could play
for 3 days and not concede. Credit most certainly goes to Steve Bould
for his work with the defense, but it also goes to Arsene Wegner for
allowing Arsenal to break away from the glitzy one touch passing style
that he and we all like to see, when the time calls for it. Sometimes
1-0 is good enough. Good teams have the ability to sit back and absorb
pressure and then attack quickly on the counter. Something we seem to
do very well. The versatility that this squad has is something that
was missing for several years. It's exactly what Arsenal fans wanted,
and is exactly what we now have. Now its on to Champions League
football (I know I know, you don't know what that's like Sp*rs, but
trust me, it is nice!) and hopefully move a giant step closer to
securing group stage qualification.
By Matt Giles
I have always been big into martial arts and have trained for several years. My sensei was a great teacher, but it always seemed that his best lessons came at the end of defeat. I remember that first match I lost. I was pretty angry and emotional. I remembered not wanting to look at him after the match in fear of seeing nothing but disappointment in his face. I knew for sure I was going to be riddled with all the “you should have done…?” and “why didn’t you do…?” lectures. However, it was quite the opposite. He came over to me with a big grin on his face and stated, “You will never forget this fight. You will never forget any of the fights you lose.” He knew I would be replaying that fight over and over in my head analyzing all my attacks and counters. And through that, I would learn from my mistakes and improve and grow as a fighter.
I can only imagine what it is truly like to be on the pitch at the caliber and level our boys play at. The emotions they feel when they win and especially when they lose. This has been a great year so far and I have purposely avoided as much media coverage of todays game as possible. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear all the “is this the true Arsenal?” “They are in major trouble!” “I don’t think they can win the league…” bull shit that I know is being said. I am very optimistic and excited about this season. We are playing with such cohesion and passion, such that I have never seen since following Arsenal (remember this is only my fourth season as a gunner). I don’t believe anything negative or doomsday about our team. This is our season.
Did today suck? Absolutely! My blood boils every time I see RVPiece-of-Shit in that menstrual red shirt those asses wear up in Manchester. However, that header was legit. We should have had him covered and we paid the price for not. But, that nasty celebration after scoring that goal today…screw him! No class. I guess I’m too big on loyalty and have a special distaste for him. Anyway, I could go on and on about that Judas but I’ve already wasted enough of my time and yours.
Today was a minor hiccup. However, I believe it was a good wake up call. That first half of the game we looked timid and lacked that drive we needed. The second half was better but we just couldn’t find the back of the net. Sorry I’m not a game analyzer. I figured you watched the match too so I don’t need to go over it with you. I just hope that we take this defeat and use it to push us forward.
Look who we have played in the last three games. Liverpool, Dortmund, and ManU. In all three we have only conceded one goal against many of the top strikers in the world. We went to Germany and beat Dortmund at home (the first English team to do so). We are still on top of the table in our league and in our group. We have every reason to keep our heads high.
I have Faith in our boys. Push forward to the next match! (after another boring break)
The SG Blog
Gooners from Oklahoma share their views and insights about Arsenal Football Club!