Back to the Nineties!
Thursday 4th December 2014
After George Graham moulded two exciting and relatively attack minded title winning sides in 1989 and 1991 we went on to win further trophies over the next few years. These teams however, were very much based on a water tight defensive shape above all else. This of course not only resulted in us being labelled with a ‘boring’ tag at times but culminated in the run to the European Cup Winners Cup victory and the whole ‘1 nil to the Arsenal’ concept. Well…..inside 5 days we have picked up two victories that are identical in the scoreline at least. And they feel as equally satisfying as many of them did all those years ago.
We all knew Southampton would provide an extremely tough test and despite thoroughly deserving our victory on the night they definitely gave us just that.
The sheer size of the Saints team was hugely apparent and none more so than their keeper Forster. For us Gooners he was to prove a highly frustrating figure for the vast majority of the evening. Time and time again he produced fine saves that looked like they would prevent us from getting the result we deserved.
Defensively we have certainly looked far stronger over the last three games and it is no coincidence I feel that we have kept three clean sheets on the bounce. I only remember our visitors having one clear cut chance all night, a good move on the edge of our box leading to an opening where the striker should have done better. Give me a pound however, for every time we have not taken advantage of similar situations, especially in recent weeks and I’m sure I could buy a very large round of drinks!
Another example of crowd ‘ignorance’ unfortunately reared its ugly head last night I felt, with the sound of booing from some quarters when the Ox was substituted. As a player he has been in fine form but last night he came less and less effective as the game progressed, possibly due to the slight knock his late fitness test suggested he was carrying. The game was level and very tight at the time of the substitution. Changing our attacking shape and options is a decision only our manager can make. He is our manager for that reason and whether they are right or not, something that can only be confirmed with the benefit of hindsight, he has to stand by the decisions he decides to make.
Its so so easy for us to criticise when things don’t work out and we all just take it for granted when it does. Last night, that change worked. There is no doubt about it. With limbs beginning to tire our visitors simply couldn’t cope with the new shape and the power of Olly Giroud.
At half time I said to my fellow Gooners I fancy us to win this 1 nil with a goal in the 89th minute. Genuinely. I didn’t put a bet on it of course. As it wouldn’t have happened then as we all know! But when Alexis slotted home the potential bet winnings were the last thing on my mind. We all love a late winner and it gave us what we deserved from a good performance all round. The jostle that ensued certainly helped to warm the toes on what was a chilly old night. Winter might finally be arriving.
Stoke away next and a fixture that has definitely proved to be one of our bogey games over the years. We go in with confidence however, and with the usual noisy away support hopefully we can come out with another positive result.
See you in the Potteries.