What a glorious weekend.
It started early doors on Saturday with a pre-noon meet ahead of the 12:30 kick off against Newcastle. There is not much better than a warm pub and a beer when it is cold and wet outside.
We then cruised to a 2-nil victory to take all 3 points and move level with West Ham in 4th.
Then it was off wandering the streets around Barbican and Fleet Street drinking and spending far too much. The strikers did not stop us and the 12 hour sesh was complete.
And then on Sunday the marvellos news that the game between Burnley and Tottenham was postponed due to snow. Just 45 minutes before kick off.
Some Arsenal fans took to social media to say things like “all rivalaries aside, I feel for the Spurs travelling fans”. Not me though. I am a pety bastard. My first thought was “fuck them” as I grinned to myself.
And then I read the tweet of the Spurs fan who travelled from Texas. 31 hours with little to no sleep. The story made national news and got them loads of sympathy. I jsut thought it serves them right for being a Spurs fan. This would not have happened had they supported their local club.
Zero sympathy from me again.
As for our game, it was a hard fought win.
The victory would have been a lot easier had Auba not missed a first chance sitter.
Following his display against Watford, it was another poor day at the office for our captain.
In that last home game he cost us 3 goals. The Newcastle miss was one of the misses of the season.
We do have to worry about Auba.
He was poor last season and whilst he has 7 goals in 13 games this (stat paded by a hat trick against WBA in the League Cup), there is clearly something not right with him.
Is he now done? Past his best?
He certainly does not seem to the blistering pace that used to make him such a threat. I do not recall the last time he sprinted clear. Of course, he is not helped by teams defending so deep against us. But he just does not look as sharp, as deadly, as he was in those first 2 and a half seasons.
Some will use his bout of malaria and Covid as a reason for his dwindling physical attributes. And whilst this might be the reasons he is no longer the player he was, it does not mean we should not now be looking elsewhere.
Auba is 33-years-old at the end of this season. Without that blistering pace, his sharpeness, he is done as a footballer. He can not reinvent himself as a back to goal target man.
He will have a year left on his contract and with Alexandre Lacazette’s expiring (it should not be renewed), a new striker needs to be top of the list next summer.
Bring in someone who is more suited to Mikel Arteta’s play. Someone who can hold the ball up and bring others into play. And then have Auba as an alternative option and cover on the wings.
I thought at one point Gabriel Martinelli could be that option. But it seems the project of turning him into a striker has been put on hold.
He came off the bench Saturday and took his goal well. A brilliant finish.
It is itneresting in recent games that it is Martinelli who has come on when we need to change the wide-men rather than Nicolas Pepe.
Martinelli is just a more solid option if we are looking to see out a game. He works harder. Closes down and is safer on the ball.
Going into next season, I am happy with Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka as our wide options.
We perhaps still need to add one more – and I would not be upset if we signed Raheem Sterling.
But one thing is for sure. Pepe is done as an Arsenal player.
It was brave of Arteta to stick with the majority of the team that was spanked by Liverpool.
The easy option would have been to bring in Elneny and Tierney for Tavares and Sambi. But Arteta stuck with the youngsters.
It sends out a positive message to all the players in the squad – one poor performance does not lead you to be dropped for the next game.
Tavares was a bundle of energy on that left hand side.
He still has positional issues and too often left ended up central leaving his winger unmarked. But there is a very good player there.
Anyway. Hope you all also had a great weekend and a good old laugh at Spurs fans.
Wehave mid-week football this week. Manchester United away. Fingers crossed the weather clears up!