March 11, 2014

Up And At 'Em

There has really only been a couple of really poor performances from Arsenal this season so far. You've got the one against the rich kids up in Manchester, and even then we managed to get three goals past them. Then you've got the catastrophe in Liverpool, and I'd probably include the recent loss against Stoke in with those too. 

Against Bayern Munich on Tuesday we were really solid. Not solid enough to scrape a win but solid enough to do ourselves proud. The referee pretty much ruined the tie that could have been a great match up between two great teams when he sent of Szczesny at the Emirates, so it was uphill both ways. We got matched up against what is probably the best team in the world right now, for the second year running, and although we got knocked out by them for the second year running I feel like we went out with class on both occasions.

Two players stood out in particular for me; Fabianski was outstanding, and kept us in with a fighting chance after Bayern pelted our goal with shots and threatened our area on a somewhat consistent basis. It's a shame he's probably leaving us in the summer, because from a selfish point of view he's a incredible back up goalkeeper, with some really valuable experience. From his point of view, he's now approaching 30, and is right in the middle of what would be considered prime age for a goalkeeper and with the way Szczesny has played the last couple of seasons, I don't really see a chance for him to become first choice at Arsenal. I'd go as far as maybe offering him a few extra quid to stick around, but certainly wouldn't blame the guy for trying to find first team football elsewhere. 

The second player, and arguably the best player on the pitch in Germany, was young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Simply put, he was outstanding. The Englishman was the youngest player on the pitch but was not to be intimidated by the experienced players around him. His ball control is sublime, and he evidently doesn't need much encouragement to make confident, positive runs and challenge players one on one. He's the sort of player that can, and most certainly will make things happen when he plays. I honestly couldn't give a shit about the England squad at the moment, right now all I care about is the fact he's in an Arsenal shirt, playing out of his skin and is fully fit. Come June, then we can get excited about seeing him strut his stuff with the Three Lions on his shirt. 

I spoke before about how getting knocked out of the Champions League might not be the worst thing in the world, due to fixture congestion and our lack of squad depth. In a perfect world I want Arsenal to win every single game and give 110 percent, 130 percent of the time, but with games coming think and fast, injuries becoming more frequent, and our chances of winning the Champions League slim, we can now focus our attention and most importantly our energy of more realistic targets. 

The FA Cup is now ours to lose. We've got Wigan in the semi-final, and if we get past them we could potentially face The Hull TIGERS! or Sheffield United in the Final at Wembley. Pretty damn good odds if you ask me. Even through I've been reminded dozens of times already that smaller teams always do well in these cups, after the recent disappointments this current Arsenal team has experienced (Koscielny vs Birmingham 2011) I doubt very much whether the boys are taking this one lightly. In fact, I'd be surprised if the boss allowed them to go into these games without the upmost focus and determination. I would give anything to put the whole "9 years without a trophy!" thing to rest. Granted, it's the FA Cup, but I've always enjoyed this cup and we've got a good history in it, so why not go out there and add another one to the books? Plus it will give Arsenal fans in America (specifically Detroit area) to get together and bond over a good 90 minutes of quality football. 

Season's not over yet, Come On You Gunners!