ARSENAL 4 NORWICH 1
*Stands and applauds*. What a game. What a performance. What goals. Before the game I was very confident and the team certainly delivered; a 4-1 home win that sees up remain top of the league, and now by two clear points after Liverpool could only manage a draw at ten man Newcastle.
It was a near faultless performance. Norwich huffed and puffed, especially during the 15 minutes either side of half time, but they never looked like blowing our house down. A rare sliced clearance from Mertesacker, followed by a pathetic ‘attempt’ at a block from Gibbs, allowed Howson to pull a goal back, but two more goals followed and it was game, set, and match to The Arsenal.
No words could ever do our goals justice, but I will try (briefly). The intricate one-twos and flicks for the first were sumptuous. And for the third, Ramsey finished off a solo slalom run that left three defenders and the keeper on their arses. I always love a goal that leaves players on their arses.
ARSENAL 1 BORUSSIA DORTMUND 2
I’m absolutely gutted. I guess when you’re playing so well, and on a run of great results, the defeats are less expected and therefore hurt a little more. But what also hurt is that I didn’t think we deserved it.
Whilst I accept we didn’t play our best, and that a draw would have been a fair result, I thought that over the course of the game. We shaded possession, Rosicky had a chance cleared off the line, Cazorla hit the crossbar with a beautiful effort, and with 15/20 minutes to go there only looked like one winner. We were looking for a second goal; they seemed content with a draw. And then bang; a counter-attack sucker punch.
The Champions League is a harsh world, especially against the top quality sides, which Borussia Dortmund certainly are. We switched off twice and were punished twice. For the first Ramsey was caught in possession on the edge of our own area, but can perhaps be forgiven as it was an error partly inflicted by good Dortmund pressure. But for the second there could be no excuse. Sagna failed to track the run of Lewandowski, with the Pole starting the move deep in his own half and finishing it by tucking home the winner from inside our penalty area, a penalty area that Sagna was not even close to reaching as he trotted back far too casually.
I know the above sounds harsh and extremely critical, but at the top-level, against the top sides, these are the small margins we are dealing with. After the game a disappointed Arsene said:
We put ourselves on the back foot with the first goal and naive for the second goal. If you look at the number of saves our keeper had to make tonight and you concede two goals, you can say that we can only look at ourselves for not being mature enough in situations like that.
So not the birthday present Arsene had hoped for. With three games gone we sit top of Group F on 6 points, ahead of Dortmund and Napoli (who both have 6 points too) virtue of the three-way head-to-head record between us. With away trips to both those teams to come it isn’t going to be easy, but we knew from day one this was going to be a tough and tight group and it’s proving to be exactly that!
CRYSTAL PALACE AWAY
The response to our opening day defeat against Villa has been exceptional. It’s vital that we respond in the same way, to last night’s defeat, when we visit Selhurst Park this Saturday. On paper it should be a comfortable three points, but as the old cliché goes “you play on grass, not paper”. A poor performance, derived from a complacent attitude, could easily be punished; so everyone must be fully focussed. We’re top of the league and it would be great to stay there as we head into difficult fixtures against Liverpool and Man United (not to mention our League Cup tie against Chelsea and trip to Dortmund). So, three points are a must. Up The Arsenal.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAKE
Finally, I’d like to wish an early happy birthday to my nephew Jake. He will be 3 years old on Saturday and I hope he has a fantastic day. I miss you loads little man. Have fun and I hope you like your presents!!