Newcastle surprised me a bit today, as I haven't watched them play at all yet this season. Obviously their results have been somewhat impressive, but they put up a good fight today. Granted it was not a game that many will remember beyond this evening, but we had to fight to earn our 3 points today, and from a set piece! I thought Arsenal weren't supposed to be any good at those?
He got the winning goal but I can't remember Giroud having a worse game. He's played so much this year and given so much effort so I can't dig into the fella, but hopefully that goal ending his drought will give him the boost he needs. He, like Ramsey last week, looked exhausted and it's clearly down to this ridiculous schedule calamity that the FA allowed to happen.
It's not just Arsenal, it's every team. Don't get me wrong, I like to watch Football this time of year as much as anyone, but the relentlessness of the fixtures is resulting in barely average football across the League. Neither Manchester games were particularly entertaining today, while, let's be honest, Everton games never really are.
This two week stretch was (and still is) a tough test for any team, so the fact that we are emerging from it top of the league says a lot about our squad depth and quality. As mentioned before, perhaps tiredness is beginning to creep in, but up to this point we've been excellent so we can't complain.
As this was our last game until the transfer window opens on January 1st the silly talk will now begin about how we need 8 strikers and 4 new goalkeepers. Realistically, I think we could do with swapping Bendtner out for someone else, but I don't see the need for much more than that. I'll give credit where it's due, and the sumo-looking Dane has shut his mouth and got on with it lately, but he's said repeatedly that he wants to leave so as long as we can find a replacement I say farewell.
He's not going to be the only one looking for first team football with the World Cup coming up either. I've begun to worry about our club captain, Thomas Vermaelen too. I hated to see Koscienly injured against Citeh, but I was also interested to see how the Belgian would react to being back in the starting line up. He looked good against Chelski and West Ham, but as soon as Koscienly was fit again he came right back into the squad, which is absolutely fine with me as he is the better option in my opinion, but you can't help but wonder what that situation is like behind closed doors.
Vermaelen is the designated captain of this squad, yet can't hold a place on the team. He's not the type of player to come out to the press and complain, which I appreciate, but he's got to be frustrated. I just wonder if infrequent substitute appearances and the odd start due to rotation will be enough for him to keep his place in the Belgian World Cup squad. I'd love to see him stay but I wonder what, if anything has been said between him and the boss regarding his status. It'll be an interesting one to watch once the transfer business begins. If he does decide to go elsewhere for more football he'll be a hard one to replace. Tough call....
I must admit though, it's nice to go into January without the need to panic buy. I can't remember the last time January 1st came around and we didn't have a list of positions we needed players for because of form or injuries. Credit where it's due, I had major doubts on the depth of this squad back in August, but now Id be content to sit back and watch Sp*rs spend another £700billion on 27 more crap players.
Perhaps this will be an amusing January watching Man United fumble around for a player to save Moyes' job? Let's just enjoy being top of the league at the beginning of 2014, and look forward to Cardiff on New Years Day, and then the other team down the street with a Gooner in charge in the FA Cup on the 4th.
I hope 2014 turns out to be as successful as 2013 was... or more. Top of the League!