Welcome back. So another weekend of Premier League football comes to a close and looking back, it was almost the perfect set of results from an Arsenal perspective.
Manchester City and Liverpool lost, Manchester United and Tottenham drew, whilst we managed to beat Sunderland despite having to come to terms with a much-changed line-up because of a spate of injuries to key components of our first-choice selection.
I would revel a little more in Chelsea’s hilarious defeat at home to Bournemouth but a) the Blues are in a relegation battle, not the title race and b) I genuinely expect them to lose every match they play between now and when Jose Mourinho gets handed his p45. When they evade defeat, it comes as more of a shock these days …
Anyway, moving on from London’s worst, to the capital’s top-flight finest, and Arsene Wenger has been talking about his pre-match nerves before yesterday’s game at Emirates stadium and hailing his side’s victory as ‘pivotal’, telling Arsenal Player:
In my mind I was a little bit more nervous than usual because I felt it was a pivotal game. It was our first game without the injured players and we absolutely had to win. We played against a difficult team who were well organised and good on the break, so all the ingredients were there for a disappointing result. Because we hadn’t won for three games people would have said we were in a crisis, so it was important to get the win. We were a bit edgy, a bit nervous, in the first half but in the second half we played with more freedom, fluency and incisiveness which is how we won the game. It was a tough one and if you look at the results in the Premier League it was like that. It’s been a good day for us, because we have won the game and that makes helps us prepare for Olympiacos. Secondly it puts us in an interesting position again and that’s all positive. The squad that was out there for Sunderland – the good news is that we won and that we don’t have any injuries. It makes it obvious for the media to guess who will go to Olympiacos.
Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey, who marked his return to central midfield with a goal and an assist, discussed the win over Sunderland, the title race, and surprise league-leaders Leicester City, when he spoke to reporters yesterday, saying:
It was very important to get the win after losing one game and drawing another and it was important to get back to winning ways and close the gap on the top and it was nice to do it at home in front of the fans. It (the title race) is really close at the moment. Teams are taking points off each other so it is going to be tight all the way through and it is important to keep ourselves in the race for this busy time and into the New Year and it was a good way to start ahead of December. It felt really good today. I feel a lot more comfortable and it (playing in the middle) suited my game a lot better, I could time my runs into the box and get on the end of things and I could have had two or three goals but at the end of the day I’m happy. It is quite a surprise Leicester are there but full credit to them, they have been exceptional but it is important for ourselves and what we have done today.
A lot was made of Ramsey’s re-stationing in the middle in the build-up to the game and although I felt the team stuttered and failed to find the kind of fluency we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Arsenal these last 12 months or so, that’s to be expected as the balance of the team readjusts.
A bit brief this evening but that’s all for tonight folks.
See you next week.