I chose not to write a blog post last week purely out of respect for the atrocities that occurred in Paris. Purely because football amongst many other things, didn’t matter. Purely because it shook the world into perspective. There was talk of the worlds media only covering the attacks closer to home versus horrors the world over but still it focused every one of us into the state of complete shock. No one knew what to do, how to react and how to combat such an awful, awful thing. Until now that is. We simply had to carry on. Without carrying on, we would all be submissive to the wrong, submissive to anarchy, submissive to chaos, submissive to pain. All in the name of a religion, ironically however the actions are the complete antithesis of any religion the world over. But we carry on. And carry on we did. Playing the French national anthem before every Premier League game, showing support for our fellow European giant and carrying on in the correct spirit shows true strength and courage in the face of fear. It really is something to see all hearts beating as one. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.
The international break seemed to come at a good time for us as we looked to be at breaking point. It showed in the game against West Brom and the injury list grew once more. Coquellin now seemingly out for 3-4 months, Arteta also coming off injured and Ramsey, Wilshere and Rosicky all still out injured. This leaves only Flamini able to play in the DM role alongside Santi. It’s the only position where the cover we have just isn’t good enough to maintain a title challenge. Yes we can still win most games with the Coq missing, however it’s the big games where we’ll notice the difference and see a drop in our performance unless the gap is plugged with an appropriate solution. Until then we have around 8/9 games we’ll have to negotiate before a replacement may or may not come in. Arteta was that man on the day against West Brom. Albeit for 35 minutes or so. He gave a free kick away that lead to their first goal (won the ball in my opinion) and was quite unlucky to score the OG for their second. However he was he one that gave the ball away high up the pitch in the build up to this goal. Not something we usually associate with Arteta but something that cost us dearly. He then promptly went off injured early in the second half with a calf problem again. It was a strange game in many ways as we created some chances but didn’t dominate with their keeper having a worldie. It was a case of us just not quite being at it but even still we had 3 moments on which the game could quite easily have been one. Ozil hit the post. Campbell should have scored when played through by Alexis. Santi had a penalty that he was unlucky to slip for. When it’s not your day it’s not your day. West Brom managed one shot on target and got 2 goals. I’ve heard that one before. One thing on Campbell’s miss as well, he got a fair amount of stick for it however would we have said anything more if it was Alexis or Ramsey (he’s done it a few times already this season). It wasn’t our day so we’ll have to accept it and move on. City contrived to go with an odd team selection leading to their demise against a newly invigorated Liverpool.
Onto our champions league exploits. A must win game and one that we should be winning no question. I felt we always needed the first goal to settle any nerves and Ozil provided just that. A brilliant counter attacking move leading to a headed goal from Ozil. A lot has to be said for Giroud’s run to create space for Ozil, but a brilliant team goal. This was followed with some great work by Naco Monreal to cut back for Alexis. 2-0 job done. In fairness it could have been 4/5-0 at the break but we went in pretty happy at half time. The second half was much the same. Cech had one save to make and that aside we really should have scored a couple more. Joel Campbell played quite well and was able to provide an exquisite assist for our 3rd of the night. I think a part of why he played better was because he started as opposed to came on. I do wonder whether Le Boss will chuck Ramsey straight back in against Norwich or whether he’ll play Campbell again and ease the Welshman back into the fold. I’d be happy either way to be fair, so long as the injury situation is appeased in some way. Bayern did their bit as well for us and it leaves us needing a win by 2 goals or to match their result in the reverse fixture (3-2) or better it (4-3, 5-4, etc etc). We have a chance and it does remind me a little of the away leg vs Monaco last season, however we know that we can go there and win. They are a decent side but we have the quality to go there and win convincingly. Absolutely have to do it now else the Europa League beckons. Not all bad I might add but we want to be in the elite European competition so I damn sure hope we manage to pull through.
After a pretty turbulent week and a half the world over it feels as though things are beginning to go back to ‘normal’. But when I say normal I say it with the pang of knowledge of recent events. It’s a time where we as a society need to stick firmly together to overcome some awful human beings. We will move on but we won’t forget.
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.