NÖEL for JOEL

It reads like a headline from the Sun but I’m not even sorry. It must feel like Christmas has come early for the Costa Rican as injuries have given him an opportunity that would otherwise not have been afforded his way. I was definitely in the “play Campbell” camp at the expense of having an attacking option on the bench simply because he’s more experienced and has some semblance of proven quality at the top level. In addition if any other player was picked ahead of him it would quite simply been the end of his Arsenal career. Would Wenger really do that to a player that he believes in? We know better than that. It was always going to be Campbell from the start. What I saw and fully expected was a good work rate from him, that for the most part nullified Montero, as was part of his job I would have thought. The game itself was definitely not reflective of the scoreline. We won the game 3-0 but a few decisions went our way as well as some quite brilliant defending from Hector Bellerin. Twice when Petr Cech was rounded (more on this a little later) Bellerin was on hand to clear the ball away from Gomis’ feet and then again to clear off the line while slamming himself into the post. Literally willing to put his body on the line. These two moments at 0-0 and then at 1-0 were crucial in securing the 3 points for us as if we have a weakness it’s reacting to conceding. We’re always a little fragile after having let one in, especially away from home so it was vital we maintained a clean sheet. Now when earlier I said that Petr Cech was rounded before being redeemed by Hector Bellerin, the key point in all this is that Cech stayed big to delay the opposition in both instances allowing the time for a potential recovery from one of the back 4. It’s the little things that have been making a big difference between the keepers that we have had previously. What a brilliant addition he’s been.

Mesut Ozil continued his fine form with 2 assists and a heavy contribution for the 3rd. The first was a corner, I can’t actually remember when we scored from a corner last so it was refreshing to see. The second came from an attempted cross and failed clearance followed by flap-happy Fabianski fumbling it into the path of Koscielny to finish. The Swansea players looked incensed however I couldn’t see a foul there – simply a Fabianski error. The third came from fine interplay between Ozil and Alexis before Ozil crossed low and you Joel Campbell applied the required touch and finish. It certainly makes Wenger’s selection dilemma for the next 2 games a little easier. The goal will spark confidence so hopefully it’s come at the right time for us and him.

Our luck seems to be in at the moment with the little things going our way so we most definitely need to take advantage of this for as long as it continues. Lord knows that things will at some stage change and we will go through a blip/bad patch, but that needs to come a little later on if at all. Right now City are without Silva and Aguero and we have our injury woes as well – but it’s imperative that we keep pace with them now as when the aforementioned maestros are back they will be harder to beat and drop far less points (see 0-0 v Utd). Speaking of that game I wanted to talk about a certain pundit’s comments post match. Gary Neville seemed to think that the 0-0 was some of the best defensive football he’s seen in years and used this as a basis of saying that English clubs could compete in Europe again. He is and always has been the best pundit on tv, he’s always refreshing to listen to and normally comes from an unbiased viewpoint but those comments quite frankly have lowered him to Thierry levels of punditry. Saying something ‘controversial’ for the sake of making an outlandish point or to be seen to be the cutting edge of his profession. Utter rubbish. If either one of those sides played like that against any half decent European team, they would get found out (City v Juventus, Utd v PSV etc). It’s just farcical to think that a few weeks after dire results the Premier League is ready to compete. Defensive greatness almost always comes with a shed load of luck, and we had our fair share vs Bayern, which is a prime example. Football, especially in Europe, has always been more about scoring at the right time rather than focussing on the ‘not conceding’ mantra or philosophy. Every team who has won the competition has had luck along the way. Remember 99 Gary? Bayern should have been out of sight but for some dodgy finishing and Utd won it at the end. Luck wins. Defending for 90 minutes doesn’t.

Other results went our way as well with Utd slipping up yet again (they really do look awful at the moment) and Chelsea quite hilariously imploding at home to Liverpool. City scraped past Norwich but were made to work hard for it so all in all not a bad weekend for us. The situation at Chelsea continues to make everyone chuckle and Mourinho is now a dead man walking. The only reason that he is still in a job is purely because there is no one actually available to replace him. There will be some background searching going on for sure, but if he continues to inspire Chelsea to lose football matches then long may it continue. He’s never had to manage a team through a bad spell, he’s always moved when the going gets tough so it will be interesting to see how this one pans out. It does hugely take away credit from the Liverpool performance, as they were by far the better side. More shots, more shots on target, more possession, but no one will talk about that simply due to the wonder that surrounds Chelsea and their dilemma of unearthing Mourinho’s successor.

We play Bayern and then Sp*rs in our next couple of games and they couldn’t be bigger. We absolutely need a point against Bayern to keep the group alive and in our own hands as well as to ensure that Bayern are left needing results from their last 2 games. Following this we’ll absolutely need 3 points to keep pace with City but they won’t come easily against a fast improving Sp*rs outfit. Added to this City play Villa and Utd play West Brom so we have to assume that they’ll both win. A massive week coming up.

Have a good one.

Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1

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