We have just played and beaten Middlesbrough with minimal fuss and two quite lovely goals from Oli G. We’ve all seen how good we were and probably should have won by 2 or 3 more. But I don’t want to dwell too much on the game itself rather the talent that took part.
I was watching the game on the ‘BT I hate Arsenal Sport’ channel and couldn’t help but marvel at the three musketeers – Alexis Sanchez, Mezut Ozil and Santi Cazorla. I found myself pausing for thought at a number of points during the game and thinking “hang on a second, we’ve got 3 absolute superstars here and they are quite phenomenal to watch week in week out”. The three of them were fabulous in the game and are the pillars on which the team will be built around for the next 2-3 seasons before Santi gets on a bit. It had me thinking about the quality we’ve had in previously brilliant Arsenal teams. We’re obviously not quite at that level yet, but we are getting closer and closer. 1-2 players and we could be onto repeating the imperiousness of yesteryear. Back to the talent in question. Alexis Sanchez we all know about through his sheer work rate and goal getting/creating addiction, so I won’t speak to much about him. I want to talk about the pass masters in Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla. Ozil just always knows ‘when’ to play the pass and the deftness that the pass requires. All the player who wants the ball needs to do is make the run in the general direction he wants it and lo and behold the ball will arrive there right on cue. It’s such a joy to watch. I’m also a big fan of the way that he carries the ball, although I feel he isn’t able to do this as much when wide. His change of direction and quick feet allow for time to stand still. He’s well and truly one of the guys you pay the entrance fee for alone. In Santi Cazorla we have the heartbeat of the side. No one was really sure where he might fit in this season due to both him and Ozil vying for the same spot but he’s made it quite clear that there’s room for both and not only that but also that he will be the main man through the middle. His performances have warranted exactly this. I have no doubts that he would happily play wide as well, he just wants to play and you can see that in the way that he was covering Ozil yesterday when needed and switching positions with him seamlessly. This is what Wenger has been trying to get out of them and it’s beginning to come to fruition. A good thing that it’s come at the business end of the season! All of the above taken together left me thinking that we truly are privileged to be watching the three of them play for our most beloved club. Here’s to hoping that they stick around for a fair few years yet and write themselves forever in our clubs illustrious history.
Onto the FA Cup draw, we got the luckiest team in the whole of the land. One of the worst footballing teams we’ve seen this year, yet they sit in third place. Somehow. Watching Preston North End v the Mancs was once again a disturbing affair due to the officiating. Not the first time we’ve said that this season. United’s first goal should have been ruled out for Rooney being in an offside position, which affected the keepers reaction to the shot coming in. Their second goal came from Fellaini climbing on and pushing a Preston defender in the back before tucking away the rebound. The third goal deserves a whole separate blog/article. Firstly it was a dive where Rooney went looking for contact and failed to get it. What was slightly more embarrassing was his celebration afterwards – it reeked of “justice” from the Rooney point of view. The most embarrassing thing however, was the defence of his actions by commentators, pundits and the England manager. Bravo Roy Hodgson, bravo. Defending play like that is giving the youth of today yet more of the terrible examples set by the FA. It makes it ok for the youth of today to engage in play like this from the bottom up and will cause us to continue to produce good actors rather than good footballers. The focus is completely wrong here. If a good footballer is brought up in the right way and diving creeps into his game, that is an aspect that can be changed or corrected. But how do you change a mediocre footballer who dives for fun into a good footballer? You can’t. It’s something that irks me so much because I’m desperate for England to be able to produce our own version of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Yes they probably both dive, but they are world beaters so the attention to diving isn’t as great. The fact Rooney dived to win a penalty against Preston has the attention is due to the fact that he is not quite as “World Class” as some people tend to think. Anyhow, we will have to go to Old Trafford and play well to ensure that we get through. I do actually feel that we are much more suited to playing United. We will be able to play football and their long ball game probably won’t be as good as Prestons long ball game, so if it comes down to a footballing contest there should only be one winner. I’ve no doubts that there will be some karmic justice coming United’s way, let’s hope it’s us that can deliver that blow.
Palace away is our next challenge and its a really good chance to get back to at least 4th with Southampton playing Liverpool. United go to Swansea so a win for us could well mean 3rd place by the close of play. It’s getting towards the business end of the season and our squad is looking fiercely competitive due to 2 players in most positions so I’m hoping that encompasses some good performances to come in the next few weeks.
Have a great week people.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.