Spot the Champions

I’ve been accused of only blogging when we’re losing so I feel its high time I got round to writing something about one of the best performances by an Arsenal team in our new stadium.

The feeling in my stomach on the way to the United game was pretty horrible, and it wasn’t just my hangover which was cruelly combined with a trip on the Victoria Line at an ungodly hour of the morning on Saturday in order to satisfy the insatiable greed of Sky television. We were about to play the European champions at the end of a 10-day period in which our manager was bizarrely proclaimed to be “under pressure” for having drawn one game and lost another and there was little or no reason to think that anything other than a drubbing was on its way.

As usual with these lunch time kick-offs the atmosphere was pretty quiet at the start, despite the presence of Manchester United but things got heated almost straight from the first whistle when Silvestre badly underhit a backpass to Almunia – Rooney chased onto it and, for some reason, Almunia chose to pick it up. Less than a minute gone and United had a free kick in the penalty area. They missed, as all teams do in these circumstances, but it got the crowd wound up at the apparent laziness of the Arsenal defence and I think it woke them up.

United were dangerous whenever they came forward but they missed chance after chance and gradually our midfield began to get amongst the United central pair of Anderson and Carrick and took over. Nasri didn’t have the best of games but 2 superb finishes either side of half time  won us the game, despite a late panic when Raphael pulled one back a minute from time and we had to endure 6 minutes of Ferguson time at the end. But this time, there was to be no silly mistakes and no disappointment and then final whistle was greeted with jubilant celebrations.

United played pretty well, I thought – but that just goes to show what a fantastic achievement it was to beat them. The whole team did their bit on Saturday – Denilson and Diaby in particular worked their socks off and seem to be getting better with every game.

We won’t win the league because we’ll lose too many of these silly games like Stoke where we just can’t seem to get up for it. But if the side can put in the kind of effort shown on Saturday for most of the rest of the season then we’ll at least be in the mix, and that’ll do me.