It was a wonderful cherry on top of a delicious cake that was last weekend. Before we won the NLD, Chelsea lost at Villa Park and got themselves two red cards, Manchester City had won their game but lost Kompany for the match against Fulham due to a red card and a certain Dutch striker had another miserable afternoon.
What I’ve wrote many times after we lost to Stoke is that matches against Everton in the FA Cup and Spuds in the Premier League were set to be the most important this season. Our players and manager were up to the challenge and both matches ended with our victory. Now, we are 9 points ahead of Spuds with a game in hand and Everton might be our only rivals for the final CL-place…and they are 11 points behind us (though, they have a game in hand and we are yet to visit Goodison Park). At this point, it seems that Rosicky’s beauty has earned us a deserved breather. Here are the key pointers from our victory over Spuds.
1.We managed a hat-trick of both victories and clean sheets against Spuds this season.
We hadn’t won at Shite Fart Lame since 2007-08 before Tomas Rosicky’s stunning goal ended our drought with our previous two visits ending with disappointing 2:1 defeats. But, it was a totally different game yesterday. It was the third North London Derby this season – the two previous encounters had been played at Emirates and we won both of them (1:0, 2:0). Yesterday’s match was something completely different though. We had to play Spuds during The March Madness – after we had a difficult match against Bayern and before a tough game against Chelsea.
Furthermore, we played without Wilshere, Ramsey, Özil and Walcott who have scored a total of 20 goals in the Premiership this season. Given the circumstances it’s no wonder our defence had to step up against Eriksen and Adebayor. Apart from Szczesny’s blip in the second half that was nearly punished by Chadli, our defence was brilliant again and added another clean sheet to our record.
2.We can win ugly if we want to.
We didn’t give a performance that would have won the hearts of neutrals but – who cares? We won the game. Like I wrote above, Wenger didn’t have too many creative players at his disposal due to injuries. Still, had Oxlade-Chamberlain doubled our lead in the first half, we would have given the Spuds a real thrashing.
Their preposterous high back-line has already sacked one of their managers this season and the other doesn’t seem like a guy that is willing to learn from other people’s mistakes. Unfortunately, we didn’t have Theo Walcott to exploit all that space that Spuds’ defence left to us.
3.Szczesny must stay focused for 90 minutes.
Everyone should have realized by now that I’m a huge fan of Szczesny and that I reckon he will become the best goalkeeper in the league. However, he sometimes gets nonchalant and his position in the team is similar to minesweeper – make one mistake and you’re doomed. Luckily for us and him, Koscielny made a fantastic block to deny Chadli after Szczesny had given an opportunity to Spuds’ winger.
I understand that our cheeky Pole might have been under the influence of Adebayor’s foul that wasn’t given a few moments earlier but if he wants to fulfill his potential, he must stay focused from the first until the very last.
4.Olivier Giroud was mostly invisible.
After he had a very promising two-goal-cameo against Everton, Olivier Giroud hasn’t had too many good moments. He couldn’t do much against Bayern and it was even worse against Spuds. The Frenchman had scored a match-winning goal in the reverse fixture but yesterday he was far from being effective. Even Mertesacker and Koscielny were more dangerous to Lloris after set-pieces than Giroud.
Still, it should be said that the Frenchman looked more lively after Nacho Monreal had replaced Lukas Podolski.
5.Tomas Rosicky relishes to play the North London Derby.
Our Czech maestro should be a prime suspect for the disappearance of Dorian Gray’s painting. His energy and aggression is more in line with a young player that wants to prove himself. Yesterday, it was his shot that decided the game. It was a brilliant diagonal shot that reminded me of Gabriel Batistuta’s goal for Fiorentina against us at Wembley in 1999.
Rosicky hasn’t exactly been a top-scorer but he has scored three goals against the Spuds in the space of two years. If we finally win some silverware this year, he will become our legend. The way he takes responsibility when nobody else can is something that gives me hope even if we have our back against the wall.
6.Mike Dean didn’t save Spuds nor massacre us ahead of Chelsea!?
I was a bit worried when I found out that Dean was given a NLD but our appalling record actually improved.
He did make some mistakes though but no huge decisions apart from the penalty that wasn’t given to us for a foul on Koscielny in the second half.
So, our noisy neighbours are out so we can focus on Chelsea. We need at least one point in that game to maintain our chance to take the title.