Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spirit, mental strength and the handbrake

Yesterday was unbelievable, it was the most memorable victory in recent Arsenal history. Chelsea has been a thorn in our side for last few seasons but the last afternoon's thrashing has compensated for many of those painful memories. We're by far the better team but unlike the most of other times we were on the winning side. The game was all the more special because we came back from a goal down twice and went on to win the game in a comprehensive manner. It was a team performance of the highest order, the resolution and self-belief of the players was evident. There were brilliant individual performances which provided the platform for the team to excel together.

Chelsea's classless chairman provided extra motivation before the match when he asked his charges "to beat the crap of Arsenal." I guess Bruce Buck hasn't been following football lately otherwise he wouldn't have made such a comment looking at Robin's red hot form. Right from the word go, it was clear that it will be an open match and none of the team was too concerned about proper defending. But when it comes to attacking relentlessly, Arsenal had the better firepower in the form of Robin, Gervinho, Theo and resurgent Ramsey. After initial scare of first 5 minutes, Arsenal tightened the noose only for Gervinho and Robin to loosen the grip. The relief had an immediate impact as Chelsea scored via Fat Frank's fat head after some poopy defending combo of Santos and Mertesacker. The oil money has resulted in such hubris that Chelsea believed they could shut up shop against free flowing, coming back-to-terms Arsenal side. Ramsey's brilliant slit open the Chavscum defense allowing Gervinho to cross for our captain to score the simplest of goals. Again the defensive lapses resulted in a clear goal scoring opportunity, only for JT's BFF Sturridge to spurn it wide. May be he got intimidated by the big Pole in front of our goal. Escaping another close offside call, we were not so lucky when Mertesacker's lack of decision making provided a glimmer of hope for Terry to salvage some pride. He beat Per on a corner kick for the ball to roll into our goal and made the scoreline a glum 2-1 at HT.

But looking at our players disappearing in the tunnel, the determination and their hunger to win was palpable. We immediately pounced on them after the restart. Santos who had a shocker in the first half equalized through a well worked goal. It was enough to send the Gunners flying and Theo gave the advantage when his strike beat Cech on the near post. There was a flurry of chances on either end and parity was restored only after a brilliant strike from Mata. Santos lost the ball but then was blocked by Lukaku when he tried to get it back which allowed Mata enough space and time to drill a long range effort. Given the nature of the game, a scoreline of 3-3 was not enough for Arsenal who pushed forward in search of a winner. It arrived when Terry slipped to cover a poor back pass from Malouda. Robin was at hand to deliver the deadly blow when he rounded Cech to slot the ball coolly in an open goal. Our captain completed his hat-trick when we caught Chelsea on counter-attack. Van Persie's strike was so vicious that in spite of Cech's effort the ball flew in taking a deflection off his palm.

The win couldn't have come at a better time. Arsenal is back in the mix and Arsene's critics have been silenced. It was a brilliant team performance, a hard-fought victory which make us believe that our team has finally turned the corner. The players have been criticized both by the fans and the media but yesterday's performance should help the fans unite and get behind our team without any bias. It was Robin's sheer class when he asked his teammates to celebrate with the traveling fans. It was a brilliant gesture by our captain who is leading the team by example. Next up is Olympique Marseille and irrespective of the task at hand, I'll get behind our team and support them to play without any handbrake on. 

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