T*TTENHAM 0 ARSENAL 1
Three North London derbies. Three clean sheets. Three victories. This season North London is as red as it always has been. Our latest victory over the enemy was a good old-fashioned ‘one nil to The Arsenal’ thanks to an absolute screamer from super Tom Rosicky.
I must admit our starting midfield surprised me. I was expecting the Arteta / Flamini axis, with Flamini sitting deep and Arteta rampaging from box-to-box as he did to such good effect against Everton last weekend. But Wenger stuck with Chamberlain alongside Arteta, with Cazorla and Rosicky providing the width, although truth be told Chamberlain, Cazorla, and Rosicky interchanged as often as you’d expect.
And the pace and drive from Chamberlain and Rosicky brought instant success. With less than a minute on the clock we won the ball in our own half. Chamberlain broke clear and, with a little bit of good fortune, played the ball out wide to the overlapping Rosicky who unleashed an absolute screamer from just inside the corner of the area. Just over a minute on the clock and it was one nil to The Arsenal. Beautiful.
It could and probably should have been three inside of twenty minutes. First it was Podolski sent clear, but with only the goalkeeper to beat and Giroud on hand for a tap in should the German have needed him, the linesman incorrectly raised his flag for offside. It’s a decision that has been overlooked as moments later the enemy’s high defensive line was caught out once again. This time it was Chamberlain through on goal, with Podolski waiting for a tap in, but The Ox went it alone and sliced his chipped effort wide, partly due to a nasty bobble. It’s fair to say Podolski let his feelings be known.
But then the tide changed. We still had chances (Podolski fired wired just before half time, and in the second half The BFG had an excellent effort saved by Lloris and Koscielny should have had a penalty when hauled to the ground by Vertonghen), but on the whole it was they who controlled possession. Thankfully for all their possession they never really threatened; there were a few close calls as crosses flashed across the face of our goal, but on the whole they were restricted to half chances and efforts from distance. The only exception came from a Szczesny error when he dropped a cross, but the superb BFG and Koscielny bailed him out by blocking Chadli’s effort on the line. The clean-sheet was retained, the three points were gained.
The celebrations after the game showed what it meant to both the fans and the players. Podolski climbed into the crowd for a photo, before joining Szczesny, Gibbs, and The BFG for a selfie in front of the away support.
And then there are the supporters. Excellent as always and singing themselves hoarse during the thirty minute lock-in after the final whistle with a loud rendition of “49, 49 Undefeated…”. North London is red. Always has been, always will be.
ARSENE WENGER’S 1,000TH GAME AS MANAGER OF THE ARSENAL
We now have a week to soak in the glory of North London derby victory, and to rest and recover ahead of our visit to the bus stop in Fulham. The Russians were beaten away at Villa on the weekend meaning we’re four points behind them with a game in hand. Unless somebody has a complete collapse you’d have to think that the teams currently in the top four will still be occupying the top four positions come the end of the season. But in what order is still very much up for grabs, so three points on Saturday would be massive.
And finally, this weekend will mark Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th game in charge as manager of The Arsenal. It’s a fantastic achievement for the greatest manager our club has ever had. Words cannot describe the affection I hold for Arsene and what he has done for our great club, but suffice to say I’d very much like to see him lift our first trophy of the Emirates era and then sign a new contract in the summer.
Victory on Saturday would not only be significant for our title challenge, but it would also come with the very nice cherry on top of being the first team to inflict a home league defeat on Mourinho in English football. What a fabulous way to celebrate the fact that there’s only one Arsene Wenger, and he’s ours – so here’s hoping. Up The Arsenal.