By now you will probably have caught at least the highlights of what was a devastating performance against a side of as yet unknown ability. If you are an Arsenal member I would take the opportunity to watch at very least the first half of the match in it’s entirety. That is what I intend to do later. At the moment all I have is memories, possibly enhanced by the power of delicious alcohol.
There can be few better feelings known to man than to emerge from the darkness into the Holloway Road sunshine in early Autumn. A ten minute stroll to the pub and the opening salvo is fired by Lars credit card. Half of Sweden has turned up. Three hours later we are treated to a masterclass of fluidity and attacking intent. The headline of the preview proved prophetic. Call me mystic ‘holic.
I was surprised to see Francis Coquelin take up the place vacated by the rested Abou Diaby, but that freed Mikel Arteta to join forces with Santi Cazorla. Ahead of them, or should I say around them, the forward trio exchanged places, rendering them impossible to mark. Lukas Podolski was hugging the touchline one minute, directing operations from the centre circle the next. Gervinho revelled in the freedom and more often than not popped up centrally to cause panic in the Saints defence.
The front three were quick to clear the flanks to create space for the full-backs to join in the fun, and it was Kieran Gibbs who set up the first goal, somewhat clumsily helped over the line via the Saints ‘keeper and defender Hooiveld. On the half hour it was two. Perhaps the defence anticipated a Cazorla strike, but instead Podolski lifted a free-kick perfectly into the top corner. In full flow Arsenal are just a pleasure to watch. The Saints defenders joined the audience, unable to prevent Gervinho from applying the finishing touch to a superb Arteta through ball. Another Gibbs break, another own goal. Four up in 37 minutes. Devastating stuff.
Then as our thoughts turned to the half-time queues for refreshments and comfort breaks we were reminded of our mortality. Wojciech Szczesny spilled a hopeful far post cross from Puncheon and Fox gave the visitors a consolation that must have surprised even them. The home support, on their best behaviour throughout, resisted the urge to inform the recalled ‘keeper that “Vito Mannone, he would have saved that”. All bar one tormented soul, with nothing else to vent his spleen about on the day, who chose the half-time whistle as an opportunity to provide an impromptu and brief appraisal of the young Pole, sharing with him very loudly that he had failed to comply with the terms and conditions of his employment vis a vis his inability to adhere to the basic requirements of his job description. Or words to that effect. You get the gist of it.
I preferred to spend my half-time day-dreaming about one sublime moment of breathtaking skill when Cazorla killed a ball rejoining the earths orbit from on high with the deftest of touches that doubled as an inch-perfect pass. The neighbour agreed that although we talk of this team not having any individual shining lights, the little Spaniard is destined to become the one. He is a joy to watch. What a signing, boss.
Perhaps mindful of the stiffer opposition on the horizon there was a distinct feeling that the infamous handbrake was applied after the break. The introduction of Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, and Theo Walcott in the final stages reignited the attacking threat. Rambo hit the post and watched on as Gervinho followed up to grab his second of the day. In the final minute Theo made it six and out before joining the Ox in applauding the visiting supporters.
So third place is where we are ahead of meetings with Manchester City and Chelsea in the coming fortnight. We may be unsure about the qualities of our last two victims, but by the end of September we will have a much clearer idea of our title potential. Arsene shared that view afterwards.
“We will know more about our team then but there is a positive energy in this team, a desire to play well together, and real team play. It is very exciting.”
Indeed it is.
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