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!
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