Thursday, 5 December 2013

Arsenal 2-0 Hull: The Greatest Striker has finally scored!




Yet another performance of dominance has culminated in yet another routine win for us, with another 2-0 victory in the bag at the Emirates Stadium, courtesy of goals from Mesut Ozil and Nicklas Bendtner (No, it’s NOT a typo error!) . This victory, quite popularly, has maintained our 4 point lead at the top, on the face of crucial upcoming fixtures this Christmas against Everton, City and Chelsea in a row, all three of whom seem set to be Champions League contenders this season.

A win was nothing less than a necessity here, owing to the fact that we have a much higher likelihood of dropping points in the coming weeks (AND the fact that Chelsea clinched a thriller). So, it was heartening to see Nick Bendy get us the lead in the opening 2 minutes through a fine header to settle Le Grove’s nerves almost instantaneously. It’s fair to say that he has been taking a lot of slack from his own ‘supporters’ this season, and while I still think that a better striker needs to be bought in the coming month, it’s good to see the Dane eager to make a mark on the club before his inevitable departure, rather than sulk half-heartedly.  

His goal was well taken too. Some clever passing on the right flank resulted in Ramsey playing a simply gorgeous first time ball to Carl Jenkinson, who found himself in a crossing position. The Englishman once again showcased his crossing ability by whipping in a delightful ball to Bendtner, who perfectly timed his header, slotting home. One nil to the Arsenal.

Bendtner’s celebrations were understandably energetic and insane-ish, for they represented a person who was being known more for his criminal damage arrests and funky hairstyles rather than an Arsenal footballer. While this was surely not an “In your face, you moronic critics, questioning the Lord” moment, it was surely one that reminded us Gooners that there indeed is talent below two layers or ego in this footballer.

It’s time that we admitted that we treated Nick too harshly this season. It is true that he clearly isn’t good enough to be donning an Arsenal jersey at the moment, and it’s also true that neither Wenger nor Bendtner see a future for the latter at this club. But it’s also true that despite all these differences between the manager, the player and the fans, Bendtner is still willing to give his all for the club till the next transfer window. He was still trying as hard as he could to be a suitable backup for Giroud and ease our striker woes a bit. Instead, we use him as a scapegoat to vent out our 8 years of frustration? Not classy, Gooners.

Granted, most of that booing was down to a pretty shite performance from him against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, but no one really expected a Lionel Messi-ish return rather than a rusty striker finding his feet, right? It's totally unfair for pundits to label Bendtner as one of the worst players in the Premier League, a label I believe that has been created by we Gooners ourselves. People forget that there is a talented footballer under that arrogance and ego, and after showing some signs of deflating his head and a rejuvenated motivation, we really must encourage him to carry on from here.

Anyway, after incredibly huge spells of possession and chances through a Mesut Ozil header, a potential Bendtner brace, some Santi strikes and an Aaron Ramsey piledriver, we finally sealed the deal in the beginning of the second half through a neat Ozil finish after some amazing play. Ramsey's reverse ball to Ozil was simply super, and the German did justice to that by finishing off the move with a composed near post strike. Haha, game over.

Ozil had another great game yesterday, and is continuously showing signs that he is getting to his best. Granted, his last three in-form games were against a disinterested Marseille and newly promoted Cardiff and Hull, but these performances - where he got 1 goal and 3 assists - would surely give him encouragement, going into games where we really need a Mesut Ozil in form. 

Ramsey had yet another eye-catching game at the Emirates (surprise surprise, right?), being actively involved in both goals, but what pleased me the most was that his signs of solo were finally withering away. I don't know if Arsene Wenger had a talk with him, or if he realized that he needed to work for his team and not his personal tally, but yesterday we saw an Aaron who was playing for the logo on the front. He took the decisions that were the most productive for the team, and chose to pass the ball more often, rather than go for glory himself.

Possibly the only worry that I had on my mind on that game was that about Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard had an okayish game last night, which were filled with long-range efforts from a winger seemingly desperate to get back to his mercurial best. In my opinion, his talent is minimized on the left flank, and Arsene must allow him to play centrally more often for him to regain his form. Don't get me wrong, Ozil is definitely a better player than Cazorla in the central attacking role, but Santi's two-footedness would give genuine unpredictability to us in the center and would also add another dimension to the team to a certain extent, not to mention help build the confidence of a player who was oh-so important last season, by giving him his preferred position more often.

Finally, a word on Manchester United, who were deservedly losers against Everton at Old Trafford. Their loss puts them a mammoth 12 points behind us, which was somewhere around the amount of points we were behind them this time last year, if I recall correctly. While it is amazing what a rejuvenated Aaron Ramsey and one Mesut Ozil can do for your club, it has come as a bit of a shock for me to see Moyes fail so badly at Manchester. I always highly rated him at Everton, and I genuinely thought that they would be the team to beat this season.

No marquee summer signings coupled with an unsettled van Persie and a disastrous Premier League form later, I am as shellshocked as I am giddy with joy. While Moyes' horrible man management with van Persie and Kagawa has led to a factor in their apparent downfall, the United players only have themselves to blame for their current standing. This was the same team - strengthened with Fellaini - that won the Premier League by a huge margin last year, and yet are languishing at 9th after almost half of the season is over. It's just a little too hard to believe that Alex Ferguson's departure has left such a huge hole in Manchester United.

However, I genuinely don't care. While it is a bit baffling to me that the Premier League champions fell so quickly so soon, I'm taking nothing less than pure entertainment from it. After a long, long time, their days seem to be over, and the Arsenal dominance is starting to take hold. 

However, we face Everton next, a team that is still beaming from inflicting more misery on their ex-boss. In our last three Premier League games, we defeated Southampton, Cardiff and Hull, all three of whom were on a high. A similar situation awaits in the next fixture. Will we manage to continue our streak of ending others' streaks?

I guess we'll find out on Sunday.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )