So what a last 3 weeks we have had. The blog has been quiet since before January due to me being away in Thailand (and Jordan, Cambodia & Laos) for 3 weeks – Koh Phangan for New Years Eve, epic. A brilliant time and anyone reading who ever fancies going, give me a shout and I will happily point you in the right direction.
Anyway, Arsenal. What has happened since I went away? The boring 0-0 v Chelsea (the only game I did not watch) was followed up by 3 Premier League victories in a row. None of the performances were great, but is it not the sign of a Championship winning side who can win when playing poorly?
Top of the league into the New Year is something we all would have taken. For a long time, Arsenal fans have not spoke about winning the league, but about competing for it. And we are certainly doing that this year. The strength of Manchester City’s squad and ability to win games comfortable 3/4-0 does scare me, but as long as we keep winning, who knows what can happen.
Out of the current top 8, we have 3 at home, 4 away, so there will be more dropped points. Chelsea have 5 home, 2 away, and Manchester City have 6 away games. Taking into account their poor away form, this could be their downfall.
As a famous commentator once said “It’s up for grabs now” and this year, the title certainly is. A couple of signings by any club (more later) could be the difference.
Then we have the FA Cup tie against Tottenham. I watched this in the Tottenham Supporters bar in Chiang Mai. And fair play to them. They were accommodating and we had some good banter. All were old lads from North London and Hertfordshire, and my guess is they could recognise in myself and my mates other real fans. there was no hint of trouble, and we all got on well! It was certainly an experience I can never forget.
And the performance of that game was exceptional. Whilst we never set the world alight in the league, we completely outplayed a strong Spurs side. Gnabry was exceptional, and we should not worry about Walcott being out as this kid is special. Yes, he is nowhere near as good as Walcott yet, but he is easily the best teenage winger in the Premier League.
Walcott being injured is a kick in the teeth. He had returned from injury in sparkling form, scoring 5 goals in 6 games, showing that last year (21 goals in all competitions) was not a fluke. I do not understand why people still hate on him, when his talent is clear in the statistics:
2011/12 – 8 goals, 10 assists
2012/13 – 14 goals, 11 assists
2013/14 – 5 goals, 4 assists
9 goals/assists in just 13 games this season. Yes, he might not be Aguero, Rooney or Suarez, but he is certainly up there with the likes of Eden Hazard when it comes to effectiveness of a wide forward, and fair superior than Willian, Navas, Welbeck and Nasri. The boy is good. And as for the thumbs up against Spurs. That is a picture that will live long in the memory of Arsenal fans.
With Walcott’s injury, it does allow for others to step up. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back from injury (could be on the bench for Aston Villa) and Gnabry showed his ability against Spurs. If one of these takes the position as theirs for the rest of the season, they could both make a run to be on the plane to Rio
As a final point about Theo Walcott, the comparisons people were making with Andros Townsend earlier this season have been blown out of the water. For those who rated Townsend as better, and called for him to go to the World Cup, well hang your heads in shame. Townsend’s hype was based on 1 goal for England. He is no more than an average player. In the last 3 Premier League games, Theo Walcott has scored 3 goals. In Andros Townsend’s entire Premier League career, he also has 3 goals. Argument over.
Whilst I am on about the FA Cup, it is a disgrace that it has been moved to a Friday night for TV reasons. I feel for the long suffering Coventry fans who have already been exiled from their own city and have been playing over 30 miles away in Northampton. They have now had a potentially brilliant day out ruined by TV executives. London on a Friday night means they will all have to take a day off work and the last train back is 23:30 from London Euston. Whilst they should make this, it is not right.
A lot of people on twitter use the hashtag #AMF. I usually cringe at this ‘Against Modern Football’ line, but in this case I fully agree. I would love Arsenal to do the right thing and offer to use their share of the TV money to put on free coaches for the Coventry fans. But this won’t happen. BT Sport are now in the same pot as Sky TV and ITV as ruining football. It is time the FA/Premier League stood up to the TV companies and said “Let’s be sensible”.
Finally, the transfer window is now in full swing, with a grand total of 0 deals currently done. As I described here, big deals in January are tough, especially in a World Cup year. Will Diego Costa really give up his World Cup place to start in a new country? Would Julian Draxler risk losing form by moving to England when Germany have so many similar player’s itching for a spot on the plane to Brazil? We certainly need to buy. A decent signing could see us push to the league title. However, who is about? We have already been lined to nearly 50 players since December 1st. As always, my advice, ignore the speculation until the player signs.
Have a good day everyone, and it’s good to be back