If there is a game that every Gooner hates to lose, it’s a North London Derby. Luckily for us, we play that derby against our noisy-but-not-so-successful neighbours so we haven’t had too many reasons to be unhappy when it comes to these matches of late.
And then there is something about the FA Cup. If you compare it with the other domestic cup competitions worldwide, you’ll notice that the most popular English cup competition has a unique worth. You won’t find too many – if any – Italian or Spanish players speak about their respective cups with so much passion as the English about the FA Cup.
We started today’s match against the Spuds without three of our four top-scorers and top-assistants in the Premiership as Ramsey and Giroud had been ruled out due to injury while Özil had been on the bench before he replaced Arteta. Also, Kieran Gibbs, who has been arguably the best left full-back in the Premiership this season, was also out due to injury. On top of that, our No.1 goalkeeper was rested. Despite all those difficulties, we managed to knock-out the Spuds and rubbed more salt into their wounds.
So, what are key pointers from the game?
1.This has been arguably the best performance this season.
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Some might argue that our best performance has been the one against Napoli at home but I’d pick this one. First of all, Napoli played without Higuain while the Spuds had their most valuable attacking assets at their disposal. Second of all, we managed to roll over our opponents without some of our best players. Thirdly (and it might be the most important one long-term), Arsene Wenger opted with “a false nine” in attack which is something that I’ve been suggesting for a while. Finally, it was a NLD.
2.We have Serge Gnabry in our ranks and it’s so exciting!
The German youngster has already made an impact this season. He scored the opening goal against Swansea in our 2:1 victory, earned a penalty for the first goal against Crystal Palace and picked an assist against Spuds in today’s victory. His pace and technique are mouth-watering and it’s only a matter of time when he will make the break-through into our “Best XI” and cement his place there for at least a decade!
3.We have conceded just one goal in five games.
After we had conceded six at the Etihad, we played Chelsea, West Ham, Newcastle, Cardiff City and Spuds. It is a bit of a “Insert your joke here” moment as the only player that has managed to score against us in those five fixtures was Carlton Cole.
4.Injuries just keep coming.
Vermaelen had to be substituted at the break and King Theo 2.0 had to be stretchered off the pitch. Our only healthy striker is Lukas Podolski and he is yet to return to his best form. Something must be wrong given that we have had too many players on the side-lines since the beginning of the season. Perhaps it’s just been the tough festive season, but there is now a 9 day rest and hopefully some comebacks on the table.
5.I want to be a 33-year-old warrior in 2016 like Tomas Rosicky.
The Czech has been superb this season which proves that pre-season means a lot. He had been with the team in the summer for the first time in years and we have seen how much that means for a player. The Czech’s attitude is spectacular and the way he disposed Rose, ran to the box and made a composed finish to double our lead exemplifies his season so far.
6.Santi Cazorla might be our most important weapon for the second half of the season.
Unlike Rosicky, the little Spaniard hadn’t been with the rest of the team during pre-season and has struggled to regain his form from last term. However, he has shown signs of improvement lately and took his goal well today.
7.Let’s all pray Theo will be back soon.
If there is a player in Arsene’s arsenal (yes, it’s a cheap pun) that has a super-power that strikes fear into our opponents’ defenders, it’s Theo Walcott and his pace. Apart from the finishing that wasn’t good today, he was brilliant and one of the rare players in history – maybe the only one – that kept his best move of the game for the stretcher. He gave a great performance as a false nine so he might fulfill his long-time desire to play down the middle.
8.We can win the FA Cup.
It’s much easier to win a cup competition than a league. You beat six opponents in the FA Cup and you are the winner. If you have a solid defence, you have a strong foundation to do so. Hopefully we will get low-division opponents in the next round so we can rotate our squad again.
9.Spuds are a laughing stock.
£110,000,000 later and they can’t produce a clear-cut chance against us themselves. Pathetic. Or are we just too damn good?