Without doubt the hardest part of blogging sometimes, as with playing a strange old guitar, is finding the right note. I joked in the drinks earlier about being sick of saying what a first-half that was for the neutrals. Again. Yes, unlike our recent performances against Manchester City and Chelsea, we were this time the better side from the off, but again found ourselves behind. It is becoming a recurring theme.
I doubt anybody would begrudge West Ham their goal with the benefit of hindsight. They were never afraid, even in the second-half when they were picked off, to spring numbers forward and add to the spectacle. However, the half-time break was only made bearable by Lukas Podolski’s response to Jack Collison’s opener for the visitors. In both instances the defending side might have attempted to get the block in a tad quicker, but both were very good strikes.
So once again whoever does the talking at half-time had to find the right words to get us at it from the off in the second period, and whoever is doing that job is earning his corn, or maybe half of his corn. Ten minutes after the restart the game was effectively over, courtesy of as good a passage of play as you could wish to witness.
To be fair we were not coming back from a first-half mauling, as we had against City and Chelsea. We were looking to find a way to convert the opportunities that came our way earlier in the evening, and we did so in an astonishing purple patch. There was a hint of irony in the fact that we gained the upper hand from a corner, the big handsome Frenchman applying the finishing touch to Theo Walcott’s corner at the near post.
Santi Cazorla, coming back to his influential best, made it 3-1 but will know the goal owed as much to the set-up by Podolski as his own clever finishing touch. Doubtless delighted to earn his increased portion of corn, Theo took centre stage to make it four, and again the provider was the industrious Podolski. Six hundred seconds or thereabouts, after taking the lead, it was five. Giroud again took advantage of the creativity of Koln’s finest, Podolski.
You could have been forgiven for thinking at this point a cricket score was in the offing. Unfortunately the contest took on a sad final phase when Danny Potts was stretchered off within ten minutes of appearing as a substitute. Quite rightly the match became something of a training exercise thereafter. Thankfully news filtered through that Potts was conscious. We wish him a full and speedy recovery.
After all that I am still left with the problem of hitting the right chord. The quality of the football we played at times tonight was breathtaking. That is good. Aaron Ramsey and Lukas Podolski returned to the starting line-up and both contributed to an exceptional win. That is excellent. I know not so long ago that would have been enough for me. Following so close as it does on successive defeats in big matches I’m not sure what it means now though.
For certain we are closer to that fourth Champions League berth than we were, but still it is not in our own hands. There is no doubt in my mind that we need to go to Brighton on Saturday with as strong a side as we can muster. Hopefully the skipper is the only casualty of this evening who may miss the weekend trip to the south coast. Getting past Swansea in the third round of the FA Cup looks even better tonight after the Welsh side reached Wembley by knocking Chelsea out of the COCup. Let us not waste that result, and the prospect of a bit of silver, having done so much to get this far.
The real plus points tonight were the returning Poldi and Rambo, as well as three potentially very important points. Let’s leave it there and pray for some busy days ahead, not just for the team, but the club negotiators as well. A big week looms. How big is our ambition?
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