Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy days

At the risk of dodging a bolt of lightening tomorrow during the match in Spain against Villarreal ... Happy days are here again, folks!
I missed this kind of football. Sure it's to do with bombarding the opposition, pushing forward, always looking like the next goal is minutes away and just breeding smiles, but that bottom line is always the obvious importance ... winning football. This was Arsenal's 17th consecutive unbeaten league match. Nothing to be shy about, that. Especially given from whence they came. Our last league defeat came against Saturday's victims, Manchester City. They handled Arsenal up north 3-nil. Frankly it was embarrassing. And in truth, the form has been so spotty (and poor) through so many batches of the season that I can't even say for certain if that was the worst point of the season. No points were taken and we were torn apart. Bad? Yeah. The worst point of the year? Probably. I still take particular difficulty in that scoreless patch we rolled through in January and February. Points, a scant few, were collected and things changed quite a bit for the team through that run, but still, they looked as if they were barely able to tread water. And completely clueless as to how to break down the opposition. No ideas. Perhaps more importantly, no match winners. At least people stopped losing matches for the team. For my personal outlook, that was the most difficult stretch of the season. It looked as if, with key players out, we'd just continue to drift away from everyone else. I recall mentioning that the team had pulled together a little unbeaten run at that point but in truth it felt silly to even mention given how poor they looked. All the same, the defense strengthened and roles seemed to become more defined, didn't they?

Now, hitting the crucial final weeks of the season, anyone who has been watching this team week in and week out can honestly - and proudly - say that their form is (or has) caught up to their talent. It's a completely different outlook from the start of the year. Saturday was a perfect example of that. And of course a couple of key ingredients have been plopped in the pot just in time to put a particular emphasis on closing out what could end up being a very special month and a half.

New captain, for he's barely had any matches with the armband, Cesc Fabregas is back and surely ready to drive the team forward in his image. Gunnerblog made a fantastic point that he'd forgotten just how good Cesc was. It's so true. I actually found myself noting how Cesc actually drew me to look straight past Andrei Arshavin - a man who had been the driving influence for that two months. In addition, the electric and terrifying Theo Walcott retuned and his pace and momentum troubled City all day. To top it off, the third returning player was Emmanuel Adebayor, who notched both goals. Ade has had his troubles this year, there's no mistaking that. On Saturday he certainly looked the part, his teammates looked more than happy to have him back (his soul and spirit have never been in question, just his work rate) and he looked was clearly thrilled to be back on the pitch. 

It all adds up to just a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. Happy football (sexy football) is back with the Arsenal. Saturday was another step in the overall growth and assertion of the maturity of this team. A 2-nil win over any team in the league is nice, and difficult at that. Never mind that City have been woeful for most of the season, it's another fantastic performance for a team that has galvanized. They are now looking to prove themselves.

And have Tuesday in Villarreal to lay down another marker that things are changing in north London.

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