Picking up maximum points against Chelsea, Basel and Burnley can only be heralded as the perfect week in my book. We even managed to close the gap to 2 points at the top of the pile. All in all, a perfect week. Not to mention my cousin getting engaged, so props to you young man – congratulations to you sir! The Perfect Week.
The game vs FC Basel really couldn’t have been better from our point of view. We created a bucket load of chances and really should have been about 6-0 up at half time. I think the fact that we went 2-0 up we eased up on our intensity and relaxed a little too much in front of goal, Alexis in particular guilty of this, however can be pardoned considering his regular contribution. I wonder how forgiving we would have been to Theo Walcott had he been similarly profligate in front of goal, though I suppose he’s earning his stripes to become more protected from criticism. He’s a man bang in form and historically the type of player who is “consistent in patches” (his words not mine), he’s well and truly in his purple patch right now and long may it continue. The game could well have ended 8 or 9-0 to us however we faded into the second half and they did threaten slightly. Ospina had to make a tidy save and tip over the bar from range but by and large we kept them at bay with relative ease. PSG won away at Ludogorets and went top of the group on goal difference. This means that so long as we do what’s required against Ludogorets it will come down to our game at home vs PSG to battle it out for top spot. We’re in a good position and it remains in our hands which is no more than you could ask in the Champions League group stages.
The game vs Burnley was a different story altogether however. The tactics Burnley employed in combination with the tiredness we showed from two high energy performances previously made for a tricky and trying afternoon. There were flashes of dangerous moments from our front line, however equally nervous moments that we had to deal with at the back. Their keeper made a save, Cech made a save. We hit the post, they hit the bar. The last miniute offside goal that was also handball really was a calamitous way to pick up 3 points, however I don’t care one bit. I do think that the offside call is valid but Koscielny had no idea that it hit is hand and had no chance to get out of the way, which does make the handball call easier to understand. It was a close encounter and Wenger said that the game could have ended 1-0 to us or 1-0 to them, and he was right. Sean Dyche’s interview was quite refreshing to hear that as much as he was aggrieved by the result he took it on the chin without much fuss. He was in no way critical of the referee or linesman for the decisions but more lamenting on the way his side defended that last set piece. He was also, understandably, proud of the performance and Burnley, with performances like that, could well stay up. They’ll give anyone a tough game at turf moor.
I want to also give a special shout out to Santi Cazorla for having a 98% pass success rate over his 90 minutes vs Burnley. Incredible from a man that many thought would be displaced by the combination of Ramsey and Xhaka. That may well happen over the course of time and this season, however he is doing everything and more to stake his claim as a permanent member of the starting XI. Here’s to you Santi.
There’s not too much else to say other than it was a well fought victory and a perfect way to finish the weekend. In a week where we celebrated Arsene Wenger having spent 20 years at the helm, it was only fitting that we were able to produce three massive performances and bring back maximum points from every one of them. I wrote a piece on Wenger’s 20 years at the club on the http://www.afcstuff.com and can be found here for anyone interested. He’s been a massive influence in my footballing life and someone who I will always respect and look up to and respect for what he has done for our great club.
Have a great week folks.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.