When you consider that we played Spurs almost a week ago and for the majority of this week our squad has been away with their international team; it’s been a fucking rollercoaster week to be an Arsenal fan.
First, the derby. There are a few matches which I don’t enjoy watching in company and one of them is the North London Derby; even when we win my nerves go through a process akin to a group of cats tearing apart a budgie. Needless to say, there was very little left apart from some ragged feathers and a few smug felines after last Sunday.
Despite how the summer had gone prior to this match, I think there was an air of assurance going in to it. Maybe off the back of our performances at the end of last season and the confidence we saw from the Fenerbache and Fulham matches, I don’t feel like this team is going to get turned over. Spurs have bolstered the spine of their team and added some real quality going forward but there wasn’t a moment where I thought they could cut through us as easily as they did at White Hart Lane last season.
What we saw was something of a reversion to the ascetic style that saw us through to 4th, with a solid back 4 and a line of 4 or 5 midfielders restricting the opposition play. This was key in cutting supply off from Soldado and ended up with the only real opportunities for Spurs coming from Townsend or a long throw in to our box (so that’s what £100 million buys you: Stoke). I think there was clearly an awareness of the passing ability of Dembele and Paulinho, as also it didn’t seem like we were pressing as much either, with closing down mainly left to Giroud and whoever was furthest forward out of the midfielders.
At the other end, we did exactly what we needed to – The pass from Walcott was perfect, he saw his options and and Giroud ghosting in at the near post for what was a magnificent, improvised finish. After the game Wenger said Lloris had been the busiest of the keepers and that was true, the difference on the day was how well we had played as a team at both ends of the pitch.
After that job was done, our eyes immediately turned to what was left of the transfer window. Wenger cheekily said there could be a surprise but I don’t think any of us were expecting Mesut Özil to be the surprise. We’ve had a summer where our hopes had been built up, broken down and then revived at the mere mention of his name, to capture a player like Özil is a dream. A world-renowned talent, we have added the kind of player to our ranks missing since the departure of Fabregas – a player who can unlock the most stubborn of defenses, that can add that spark of ingenuity that this team was sorely in need of last year. The prospect of seeing him in an Arsenal shirt alongside Cazorla is mouth-watering, nobody is going to be able to take the ball away from their feet. It’s going to be unfair. Mrs Arsevark asked me about him and I said that I didn’t want to say anything because it will just come off as homoerotic, but boy, that kid is magical.
It was just our damned luck that there had to be an international break. The morning after deadline day, or “Mesut-Fucking-Özil Day” as it’s now been formally named, I felt like a kid at Christmas who had just been bought a PlayStation 4; a puppy; a paintball gun and adhesive targets to stick on his sister; one of those Easter Island statues and the license to punch Justin Bieber once a day for a year, only to have his mum take it all away and say “Oh no, you have to wait 2 weeks to play with all this”, you know it will come around soon but every moment until he wears an Arsenal shirt for the first time is feeling like an eternity.
Until then, I’m just going to watch clips of him on YouTube.