ARSENAL 2 FULHAM 0
The Arsenal maintained their fine form this weekend, comfortably brushing aside a struggling Fulham side by two goals to nil. For some it was not as entertaining or as goal frenzied as they might have wished for, but it was a professional and accomplished performance that won us three points which keep us top of the league.
The first half was a little dull, I won’t deny that. The only real chance came when Özil was played in, but slightly off-balance and on his right foot could only manage a weak shot which Stekelenburg saved easily. Fulham were content to park the bus and we seemed content to take our time, to continue our passing game in the knowledge we’d eventually break them down.
Sometimes so much possession in such relaxing ‘it will come’ scenarios can be a little misleading, perhaps leading the team to believe the goal is only a matter of time, when in fact few to no chances have been created (something Hayley Wright discusses in her Diary of a Season this week). However, the second half saw a marked improvement in the quality and accuracy of our passing, which in tandem with the increased tempo started to unsettle Fulham, stretching them and creating gaps. And therefore the goals did eventually come, both from Santi Cazorla.
The first saw our little Spanish maestro round off a lovely move of close quarter, precise passing, as Giroud found Wilshere, who in turn laid it off to Cazorla, who fired home.
And four minutes later the second was added when a Monreal cross was only half cleared to Cazorla on the edge of the area, who produced two excellent touches; the first to cushion the ball down and the second to sweep it into the bottom corner.
A third could have been added when Podolski had a fierce effort tipped onto the post and a consolation goal could have been conceded when Bent rounded Szczesny (but fired wide of the open goal) and when Szczesny almost fumbled an effort over the line (but grasped it at the second attempt). But in the end we held onto the clean-sheet, our eight in nine home games in all competitions. Love it. Afterwards a pleased Arsene said:
We were in control for the 90 minutes but a bit one-paced in the first half with our passing. In the second half when we got up a gear we scored the goals. Santi got two good goals and from then on we looked like we would get the points.
Another clean-sheet, another three points, and still top of the league; you won’t hear me complaining about any of that.
POINTS WIN PRIZES
Arsenal are top of the league. Not Manchester City, not Chelsea, but THE ARSENAL. Forget what the pundits say with their constant arse licking of City’s goal scoring record and their blessed Mourinho (the arrogant Portuguese twat). The fact is City have 50 points, Chelsea 49, but we have 51 and that makes us top of the league.
As Arsenal fans I think we get caught up in goal difference a little too much and probably more than most. It’s understandable though. In 1952/53 we won the league title on goal average, with our goal average of 1.516 pipping Preston’s 1.417 to the title by the tiny margin of a mere 0.099 of a goal. And of course every Gooner remembers Anfield 89 when a last-minute Michael Thomas goal saw us win the league title on goals scored (not goal difference, goals scored!).
So add into the mix Man City, a billionaire assembled goal machine who themselves won a league title on goal difference as recently as 2012 with a last-minute strike from Aguero and you have a whole load of “we must score a load of goals” panic.
But here’s the thing… we don’t have to. The football league has been around for over 100 years and I can assure you a hell of a lot more league titles have been won by having more points on the board than the second placed team than they have due to goal difference, goals scored, or goal average. If you win 1-0 or 10-0 the outcome is the same; three points. So as long as The Arsenal keep chalking up three points onto the board then I’ll be a happy man.
FA CUP FOURTH ROUND
Next up is Coventry City in the FA Cup on Friday. You’d have to imagine that Arsene will make quite a few changes, given that Premier League action resumes three days later with a visit to Southampton. That’s not to say we should be complacent or that we should take them lightly, but you have to feel confident that we can progress into the next round, even with some rotation. What did she wear? She wore, she wore, she wore a yellow ribbon. Up The Arsenal.