Written by Mean Lean on Sunday, 03 February 2013 16:30
Thin margins once again at the Emirates stadium yesterday. The players were cheered and applauded off the pitch at full time after coming through a niggly match in which only one team wanted to play football. Had Lukas Podolski's free kick deflected wide of the far post then you can bet your bottom dollar that the reaction at the final whistle would have been somewhat different.
Luckily for us, both teams got exactly what they deserved over the course of 90 minutes and that is not always the case. One team would have been content to finish the game with no shots on either goal at the final whistle, the other team wanted the three points and went for it. Swansea City came to our ground and deserved everything they got on the day and you wouldn't have heard a bad word towards them from the Arsenal faithful at the final whistle.
Tottenham are our rivals and I want to beat them more than anyone else, Manchester United have been our fierce enemies for some time but ultimately I have respect for them both. I absolutely detest Stoke City and have zero respect to their manager, players and supporters, so beating them is always pleasing.
Arsene Wenger has been warming to rotation a little more in recent weeks and it was Cazorla and Podolski's turn to sit on the bench. Abou Diaby's return was expected but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's start was more of a surprise. Mikel Arteta replaced the recently impressive Aaron Ramsey in the side and I had almost forgotten just how good Arteta is at keeping the ball and keeping the play moving.
I was impressed with the composure of Nacho Monreal but I want to reserve judgement until we face a team that actually want to attack him and our defence. It was certainly no surprise that he looked comfortable in possession and one cross to Giroud was certainly something I had hoped to see.
For some reason we avoided playing it to him on quite a few occasions when he had space around him. We really need to improve on our crossing game especially when space outside of the penalty box is so congested. Quality of cross and numbers in the box should be on the to-do list at London Colny.
As you would expect, the one threat that they did provide was launched balls into Peter Crouch and I thought we dealt with all the second balls aggressively and professionally. Great to see after the shambles in midweek. For the second game running against the cave men they did not have a sniff of a chance which we can take great heart from.
Theo Walcott impressed me yesterday and I thought he was our most dangerous player as is often the case this season. In for some rough treatment but never hid and kept running at the Stoke City defence.
He is currently looking like the player I hoped he would be a few years ago. Nothing fancy but direct and effective. If he can stay fit then I am hoping for a massive season for him next term. It was the foul on him that presented substitute Lukas Podolski with the free kick and his left footed strike flew off a Stoke City player and into their net.
I, like many a Gooner had hearts in mouths when the linesman flagged for some reason or other but referee Chris Foy saw sense for probably the first time in the match, which in itself is pretty lucky. How many times have we had a decision changed in our favour, not many I'd say. So we should enjoy that luck while we get it. Shawcross deserved a red card for his awful lunge on Koscielny and many of their players escaped yellow cards as it is the case against us. Stopping us by fouling seems to be accepted these days.
Three points on a day that Chelsea and Everton dropped points makes for a good weekend on the whole although our joy was soured a little by Tottenham picking up all three points at West Brom.
Fully aware that I am sounding like a broken record but I am hoping that the team can finally build on this and find consistency needed for a winning run.
Next up, Sunderland away.