CRYSTAL PALACE 0 ARSENAL 2
Our unbeaten run away from home was extended with a 2-0 victory at Selhurst Park on Saturday, making it 12 wins and 2 draws from our last 14 away games.
But things weren’t as plain sailing as many had predicted. I wasn’t as confident as most people; I was confident we’d get the win, but I wasn’t convinced it would be by 4 or 5 goals. And so it proved.
Palace were disciplined, keeping their shape and working hard. Add to that the extra-long grass and a lack of pace and width to our play and I was struggling to see where the breakthrough would come from.
Thankfully we picked up the tempo a little bit in the second half, and when Guedioura decided to stupidly lunge in on the quick turning Gnabry we had the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot. Arteta duly obliged; 1-0 to The Arsenal.
Unfortunately the Spaniard wasn’t to see out the 90 minutes, after crafty play from Chamakh and a very poor refereeing decision from Chris Foy. The term ‘last man’ gets banded about in these situations, but the rule is not last man; the rule is denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Maroune Chamakh 40 yards from goal, kicking the ball right, looking and running left into Arteta, with Ramsey covering in the middle is anything but an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. What it should have been is a free-kick to Arsenal.
In the end it had little bearing on the game. The introductions of Monreal and Wilshere shored things up in the middle of the park, Wojciech Szczesny pulled off a couple of great saves, and a second goal from Giroud sealed the victory.
It was far from pretty, but a clean-sheet win away from home keeping you top of the league isn’t to be complained about. We now have a very tricky run of fixtures, but we’ve given ourselves a great platform. Long may it continue.
ONE GAME AT A TIME
As I said, and as everyone will know, we have a very tricky run of fixtures coming up. It is what it is, we just have to deal with each hurdle as best as we can. The run starts tomorrow night at home to Chelsea in the League Cup and I’d like to see Arsene making wholesale changes. Our first choice eleven have played a lot of minutes so far this season and will be facing a Liverpool side on Saturday who have played 5 games fewer so far this season. We’ll needed everybody fresh and ready to fight for that one, and therefore I just can’t see the value in starting key players tomorrow night.
Yes the League Cup is a trophy, but for the first time in a while we have an excellent shot at challenging for the title and I think that should be the priority. If we beat Chelsea then great, but if we don’t then it wouldn’t be the end of the world; it’s all about the league for me.
After Liverpool we head to Dortmund, then Old Trafford, followed by home games against Southampton and Marseille. The month of November is then rounded off with a trip to Cardiff City. Given the difficulty of our next four fixtures little has been made of just how difficult this month will be on the whole. Southampton have had a flying start to the season, conceding very few goals. Marseille will be a must win, given we have to visit Dortmund and Naples, and Cardiff will have a very noisy crowd behind them, hoping to repeat their victory over Man City.
So the month of November, a notoriously horrible month for Arsenal, is going to be a massive challenge for this squad, both in terms of its quality and its depth. With regards to the former we have what it takes, of that I have no doubts. With regards to the latter we can only hope that Walcott, Chamberlain, Podolski, Flamini, and Sanogo are fit and fighting as soon as possible because they’re going to be needed!
But as the old cliché goes, we must take one game at a time. So here’s to the first step tomorrow night and hopefully a spot in the next round of the League Cup. Up The Arsenal.