Well, the comeback has begun. The result we wanted at Stamford Bridge gave not only us, but all of the chasing pack slight belief that perhaps there is still something to play for in terms of the title.
I must start with how crap I thought Aston Villa were or are. I would say that they are probably the worst Villa side I can remember and for a club that has such a big following in the Midlands its almost a shame that they are so woeful. They are the lowest scoring side in the top nine leagues in Europe. That’s crazy. How Paul Lambert has kept his job is amazing…
However, from our point of view we can only beat what is in front of us, and it was our biggest Premier League win since 2012 – was also against Villa.
The team is looking sharp now and we have players fighting for positions for the first time in I don’t know how long, which makes for great competition.
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Finally it is not just a default selection due to injury or no other option that has kept players in the side. It’s great to see players coming in and taking their chance. No more so than Francis Coquelin. Here’s a guy that just three months ago was playing with Charlton Athletic as he was unable to get near the first team with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini keeping him out (I just worry what that must have been doing to his mental health.)
However, the boss in an act of desperation called him back and he has taken his opportunity with both hands, not to mention the clear affection he has already managed to build up from the Emirates faithful. You could feel the belief in the ground that when he was going in for a tackle that he would come away victorious with the ball or the player or both.
Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott both made starts too, with the absence of Alexis Sanchez and the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Based on the performances it was Ozil who came away the happier of the two. He looked (like Santi Cazorla) very busy in the midfield and his assist for the first goal was Bergkamp-esque. He made some lovely runs too, and perhaps could have scored another but for a bad decision at the last second. He looked again something close to what we saw in his early days for the club, and long may it continue.
Walcott on the other hand I thought had a quiet game. His early chance perhaps showed that his pace and maybe confidence are not back at the levels he’d want. Theo is certainly a confidence player, but his goal surely with how well it was taken will go a long way to building that part. Also, we all know how he loves to wind up the other lot from up the road, and with them our next challenge it is surely a good thing that he is coming back to prominence.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the performance of the defence as I am pretty sure my old Sunday side could have kept Villa quiet yesterday, but what I did enjoy was the David Ospina save in the 93rd minute when we were 5-0 up and when for the whole game he’d been a spectator. It goes to show that his level of concentration potentially is higher than Wojciech Szczesny who let’s be honest has dropped the ball in terms of his Number 1 status.
The Man of the Match for me though yet again was Cazorla. He is a genius at the moment. You can see a real difference in his game, and I think its mainly due to his position in the centre. He is starting to play with a smile on his face and that’s six goals in eight games – and when he hadn’t scored for a previous 26 just shows he’s much more involved.
Let’s not forget his two assists either. What I like about Santi is that he takes as much if not more happiness in making a goal than scoring one. His little dance in the City game for the cross to Giroud summed that up and the joy he showed when Bellerin produced that lovely side foot finish against an already beaten side was great to see.
This squad may not have what it takes to win the title this season, but with the ‘Big Side Away’ monkey off our back, the players that we have (when fit) at our disposal are as good as any in the league. We may not have the in-depth quality but I think that slowly this is coming. This, as I have said many times, looks like the early days of a very special side.
Next week is a different game though, but it will go a long way to securing our belief of a top four finish, and if we win it will keep the momentum of the good run we have been on. One thing is for sure, it will be a harder game than what we saw yesterday.
Till next time.