1. Gunner’s demonstrating imroved firepower?
A common criticsm levelled at Arsenal in the past few years is that when push naturally turns to shove their brand of delicate, stylish football cuts little slack when time and time again they come unstuck against other top level opposition. What importance then yesterday’s dismantling of Man CIty must have had for the squad?
Be in little doubt that Dedryck Boyata’s fifth minute sending off was a pivotal moment but at 0-0 in the home of the second place side in the league there was still a game of huge importance to go and win, a task which Arsenal carried out dutifully. Swept aside by Chelsea a few weeks ago, Arsene Wenger’s side could ill afford another demoralising defeat at the hands of a team they look to battle with for top honours.
While clearly not without their flaws (see the West Brom game earlier this month for evidence of such) Arsenal do look a stronger side than in seasons gone by. An important factor in them being so is the apparent strength in depth they now possess, while key players continue to get injured it now seems like replacements can be trusted to come in and replace them. No Fabregas or Ramsey? Never mind, Jack Wilshere or Samir Nasri will do a job. Vermaelen gone? Stick Squillaci or Djorou back there. RVP crocked again? Don’t worry, Marouane Chamakh is bangin’ them in.
2. Big boy’s back on track?
Given the two weeks Liverpool and Manchester United have gone through, the three points both sides won yesterday could scarcely have ever been welcomed more. With the off field problems of both seemingly lessened (it should be noted that the spectre of Tom Hicks still hangs over Anfield threatening legal procedings) neither could do worse than to now concentrate all their power on improving their league position.
The unconvincing performances of both sides will matter little for their respective bosses who may have wondered if they’d ever win again given their circumstances. It is difficult to decide for which club victory was more important, Liverpool who had not managed a win since August, or United who had drawn their last four and seemed on course to once again throw away three points due to silly mistakes. With the rot now stopped, both will be hoping for more of the same in the coming weeks and months.
On a sidenote, speaking of big boys, Liverpools goals yesterday were the 7th and 8th of their nine goals this season which has wither been scored or set up by Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres. A sign of both of these player’s true quality aswell as the clear inadequacy of the rest of the squad.
3. Fortess Stamford
It’s now been six months and 781 minutes of action since Chelsea last conceded a goal at Stamford Bridge! Is there anything more that even needs to be said for this statistic? As a United fan, I’m fairly sure the only way I can get this to mercifully end is to use my fantasy football transfers to put Petr Cech in goal. That tactic generally works.
4. A hefty pat-ronisation on the back……
Fair play to Roberto Di Matteo and West Brom for their lofty position in the league but one can only hope that the patronisation directed at them will soon stop. Fair enough their standings are a pleasant surprise, and yes they have achieved so “by playing football” with a manager is a “an all round nice guy” who likes his side “to get it down and play it around” but should such qualities be deserving of such standout praise in a league so often reported to be the best in the world?
All credit to them, but lest we forget that The Baggies are all but a bi-annual fixture in this fair league, it should not be that much of a surprise that they finally seem to be getting the hang of it. Beware however, a six point cushion over the relegation zone with 29 games to go is not a failproof assurance of safety come May, no matter how well a side knock it about.
Congratulations to Ireland’s own Richard Dunne who further cemented his position at the top of the Premier League’s Own Goal table with a suitably unlucky strike against the Black Cats of Sunderland on Saturday. The Honey Monster is now only +1 on his Top Flight goal difference. Nervy times.