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Monday, 28 December 2015

Ya Mezut Ya

Examiner missive finished and filed in time to put my feet up and enjoy the highlights on MOTD Wishing one and all a very happy & healthy New Year
Big Love


Driving back to London, after enduring an infuriating “wonder why on earth we bothered” rout on the South Coast, we were debating the limited options available to Arsène, to freshen things up for our date with the Cherries less than 48 hours later.

As it turned out, in introducing the likes of Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers and the Ox to the starting XI, Wenger made the very best of a bad job. I had assumed that the vast majority of those involved in such a lamentable display against Southampton, would be required to lift themselves off the floor, to play against Bournemouth. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the team that took to the field on Monday night looking quite so different, without needing to draft in any of the kids who’d previously failed to have an impact in our cup defeat against the Owls.

Mind you, I think we were fortuitous to have Bournemouth as the visitors because judging by the cat and mouse tactics of the two sides, until Gabriel soared into the box to bury Mezut Özil’s corner around the half hour mark, I’m really not sure we’d have ended the day on top of the table, if we’d encountered more ambitious opposition.

            You could hear that the Cherries fans were in good voice as we approached the stadium this evening, seemingly determined to enjoy every minute of their Premiership adventure. In Eddie Howe’s shoes, I might’ve been more inclined to want to stick the boot in, after our battering only two days prior. But Bournemouth’s own “special one’ knows there’ll be more significant battles to come, in matches that they are going to have to get something out of, in order to retain their top flight status.

            As a result, with Josh King ploughing a particularly lonely, unrewarding furrow up front, there was the distinct sense of our guests approaching this game, believing that anything more than a defeat would be a bonus. With both sides primarily focused on avoiding being the architects of their own downfall, one sensed that the first goal was all the more crucial than usual. With lactic acid rapidly affecting fatigued legs all over the park, you really didn’t want to end up being the team chasing this game.

My Spurs mate was perhaps guilty of trying to fill me with a false sense of security, but after we were suddenly installed as the bookies favourites after beating City and with the other usual suspects falling away so dramatically, he was contending that the Gunners were about to run away with the title. Yet after such a severe reality check at St Mary’s stadium on Saturday, mercifully there was little, or no evidence of any cavalier “top of the league” chants on the terraces, at least not until long after Mezut had secured all three-points with our sumptuous second goal.

I managed to find the photo online, on my phone at half-time, of Özil sunning himself, since much like myself, there were several Gooners who were surprised to discover that he’d been allowed to disappear off, to somewhere that looked just a little warmer than Bournemouth during the week. However, after debating whether such special treatment might impact upon his team-mates, we were all left so blown away by the peerless brilliance of the beautiful football, in the build up to our second goal that in the euphoric celebrations which followed, we were left joking with one another, about Arsène allowing our German playmaker carte blanche, to do as he pleases. At this precise point in time, with our squad so depleted, Mezut’s importance to the team reminds me of the joke about where the 800lb gorilla sleeps. “Where ever he wants!”

I’d watched Spurs steal an undeserved winner at Vicarage Road before heading out the door to the game, with Watford only millimetres away from doing likewise some fifty seconds earlier. This left me terrified of losing against Bournemouth and finding ourselves reeled back into the fourth place battle, with all the good vibes evaporating over the festive period.

Thankfully, having knocked all the stuffing out of our guests, it ended up being a comfortable victory, with Petr Cech savouring the moment as he achieved the clean-sheet record. Personally, I’ve no idea if the DM we’re supposed to be signing from Basel is any bottle but my Egyptian Gooner pals are getting very excited about the possibility of him playing for the Arsenal. Hopefully, having restored some of the “va va voom”, we can now motor in the New Year, whilst savouring plenty more of this sort of breathtaking view from the summit.
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