Matches like the one on Saturday might be the toughest one for teams that are yet to find winning mentality. We had problems dealing with a team that are yet to win a match in this season Premier League, a team that is full of expensive players, mostly past their prime, but much better than their league position suggests with an annoying manager that deserves current league position. We put one past their goalkeeper (excellent Julio Cesar) thanks to the fact English referees and linesmen know nothing about offside-rule. We won and took three points which is very important given that Chelsea lost (gap is 7 points again) while both Manchester clubs and rivals Spuds won. There are a lot of impressions after the match against QPR, both good and bad. Some of them are connected to each other.
GOOD – we managed to win after two horrible matches.
BAD – it was narrow home win against last-placed team of the league.
GOOD – we kept clean sheet for the first time since 3rd week and match against Liverpool.
BAD – we nearly conceded an equalizer against QPR while they were with 10 men because of lack of aggression.
GOOD – we scored a goal after more than 270 minutes of football (last goal before this one was Cazorla’s beauty against West Ham).
BAD – well, we waited for a goal after three games of drought and scored from a controversial offside goal.
GOOD – we have the best defense in the league: we kept four clean sheets, conceded only six goals in nine matches and only one more than one goal (against Chelsea).
BAD – we have only scored 14 goals, just a little above 1,5 per game, and 9 out of 14 goals we scored in matches against Southampton and West Ham, leaving the remaining 5 goals spread over 7 matches.
GOOD – Giroud is getting into chances, dominates in air in both penalty boxes and had some role in Arteta’s goal.
BAD – Giroud keeps missing chances that are so great that he makes Bendtner looks like Falcao.
GOOD – Walcott is back, we missed his pace against Norwich and Schalke.
BAD – Walcott seems to be very far from staying in Arsenal and he could be another valuable player that we will sell to some of our rivals.
GOOD – Mannone made couple of great saves in last minutes to save us three points.
BAD – Julio Cesar, experienced goalkeeper that was among the best players of Internazionale when they won treble in 2010 and by far the best Ranger on Saturday, was available on free transfer this summer and Wenger didn’t sign him.
GOOD – Wilshere and Sagna are back and they did well, especially Jack who could be the missing link between our midfield and attack, blade that will cut opponents’ defenses when all other ways are blocked.
BAD – Gervinho got injured while it is questionable what will Sagna’s return do to Jenkinson’s form and confidence.
GOOD – Arshavin did well when he came in and gave decent cross before the goal which is something that we couldn’t see often in our attacking play. With Sagna back and with possibility of Arshavin getting more playing time, Giroud might be more efficient. It would be tremendous if Arshavin could make a come-back like Bergkamp did in 2001-02. Arshavin has enormous talent that wasn’t shown enough in past few years, due in part to being played out of his preferred position.
BAD – Podolski hasn’t played as effectively since Gibbs got injured. We need Gibbs for upcoming matches, especially against Manchester United.
GOOD – we won against QPR at home with same result like we did last season and we didn’t lose any of our key players because of injury (Vermaelen got injured last season against QPR and missed matches against Fulham and Swansea).
GOOD – we bounced back before matches against Reading in Capital One Cup and, what is much more important, against Manchester United at Old Trafford in Premiership.
GOOD – Jack and Bac’ are back! Yes, I mentioned it before but it is something that I was waiting for a long time. Sagna is the best right back in the league and probably in the world while Wilshere is a player that is destined to be one of the best midfielders for England, given that injuries don’t destroy his career.
And what about UGLY? Well, our victory wasn’t the most beautiful to put it mildly. And we are facing ugly Manchester United next Saturday with midweek match against Reading in the Captial One Cup. Now, there is also the possibility that we need An Ugly One, an ugly bastard in defense/defensive midfield that would scare opponents with his appearance and later with attitude. I was thinking what would happen if Jamie Mackie faced Keown and Vieira instead of Arteta and Santos on his way to Mannone. I was asking myself the same question last season when Welbeck muscled out Djourou before scoring opener at Old Trafford or when Valencia scored the opener at Vermaelen’s expense at the Emirates. After all, Juventus (apart from being helped by referees) had Ciro Ferrara as their captain in mid-nineties and they were one of the best teams in Europe. Some other captains claimed Ferrara made them almost cry from pain with handshakes before kick-off. It’s a part of attitude as well, a psychological trick that can give small advantage over your opponent.
Next opponent: Reading, one of the worst sides in Premiership so far and most likely team that will return to Championship. Wenger will face dilemma whether to field strong line-up or to keep his team fresh with possibility of going out of the cup that is frankly our biggest chance for winning a trophy. A trophy that actually can be seen in trophy room unlike qualification for Champions’ League, monsieur Wenger. I would settle for a dull 1-0 victory over Reading with our best players resting for Saturday but it is much easier to say than do.