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Sunday 2 November 2014

Dele Might Not Have Ad-Ebola But North London Badly Needs An Antidote For An Epidemic Of Cesc Psychosis

Perpetual Motion Incarnate
So far this season, sadly it’s been an all too rare occurrence for me to return home after a game and eagerly await the highlights on Match Of The Day. But with a selection of simply breathtaking efforts, amongst the Gunners’ thirty-two attempts on Burnley’s goal, it made for a pleasant change to find myself positively salivating at the prospect of seeing the best of these replayed on Saturday night.

It was a different story earlier in the afternoon, when the Clarets' captain bravely threw his body in front of Santi’s goal-bound effort around the hour mark. Everyone began to wonder if it was destined to be yet another disenchanting afternoon, with nothing to show for our total and utter domination, other than more dropped points.

As the terrace tom-toms beat out rumours of QPR’s surprising, but sadly all too brief resurgence at Stamford Bridge, the fickle mutterings of discontent mushroomed amongst the not so faithful, with sixty thousand Gooners struggling with le Gaffers unfathomable teamsheet logic.

Burnley were bristling with vivacious promise at the start of the season. Despite not winning a single game since, their travelling fans might be bloodied but they remain unbowed and admirably vociferous, seemingly determined to enjoy their Premiership odyssey. In contrast to their team, as the confidence of bottom of the table Burnley has taken such a battering that they've been shorn of all that early season belief. This was all too evident in their limited ambitions as Sean Dyche's side took to the field on Saturday, solely intent on “parking the bus”.

The Gunners really should’ve taken advantage of our guest’s inevitable timidity, with the sort of bold starting line-up that would signaled our intent to steam into the opposition, instead of patiently prodding the ball around until Burnley had their feet under the table and forgot all about feeling over-awed.

If Giroud had been fit, perhaps Arsène might’ve been more inclined to make the most of this rare opportunity to fulfill his AGM promise to play 4-4-2 at some stage this season. But if le Prof’s disinclination to play with a pair of strikers came as no surprise, it was patently obvious to all but our obstinate manager that we could, at the very minimum, have afforded to sacrifice a defensive midfielder or two.

Despite our agonizing lack of first-half tempo, after having peppered Heaton's goal, we really should’ve put Burnley to the sword long before Steve Bould rose from the bench to recall our subs, as desperation eventually forced Arsène to ring the changes with thirty minutes left on the clock. Nevertheless, for all our dominance, much like at the Stadium of light last weekend, it was yet another demonstration that Alexis possesses more desire than that of all the players out on the park put together, which finally forced the breakthrough.

5'7" + Desire > 6'4"
I certainly wouldn’t have bet on the diminutive Chilean beating Duff in the air to head home the opener. In fact our aerial limitations have become such a standing joke that it would almost be preferable to avoid the constant anti-climax of our endless succession of corner kicks, by handing the ball straight to the opposition keeper for a goal-kick!

Remarkably, we did at least manage some return for our eighteen corners on Saturday. Podolski’s supersonic volley could’ve been a goal of the season contender if Heaton hadn’t managed to get a miraculous hand on it and no sooner had I uttered the words “surely the law of averages must eventually prevail with someone getting on the end of a set-piece” than my prayers were answered by Chambers scrambling home his first Arsenal goal.

"Theo, Theo"
Impatient to join Alexis’ perpetual motion party and commence his long-awaited comeback with a stress free cameo at 2-0 up, Theo had his tracksuit off and was standing there, itching to come on, within seconds of getting the call. I’m guessing Podolski will be going from Gooner to goner at the earliest opportunity, judging by his comparative lack of urgency to ready himself, as Pod’s dawdling on the bench belies his anguished lack of game-time.

However with Ozil and Giroud still to return and I pray Koscielny to be reinstated, prior to encountering more meaningful opposition while Monreal remains in situe at centre-back, there’s some sense that the Gunners are finally beginning to grind through the gears. Never mind Ebola, North London remains afflicted with an epidemic of Cesc psychosis. Although two wins on the bounce offers a much needed antidote of optimism, it will take more than mere bravado to nullify our “flat-track bully” persona.

For all the fabulous prospect of more scintillating football, I fear that without a physical midfield presence, we’re only ever riding towards the inevitable fall, at the first opportunity for the big boys to put our toy football back in its box.

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