Wednesday 6th January 2010
Happy New Year Gooners! One made all the more pleasant of course by our 100% record over the holiday period! Six massive points and into the FA Cup fourth round, very pleasing indeed.
Villa at home not only was a big game but it felt like one. A real six-pointer to add to that unique feeling that seems to accompany our 'Boxing Day' fixture, especially when we are at home. OK, so the game wasn't technically the day after Christmas but it still felt like it!
Having dominated the game for long periods it took a period of brilliance from our captain to help us take the points but proved costly as far as his availability for the following games.
His free-kick was sheer magic and the ground erupted. The second was an Arsenal goal through and through. From one end of the pitch to the other in no more than a few seconds, a sublime pass from Theo and a deadly finish from a player pushing his damaged hamstring to the very limit.
For me, the whole Christmas period has seen numerous members of our midfield clan come to the fore. I thought Abou was superb against Villa and is looking stronger and more influential with every game he plays without getting injured. His luck on that front has been awful, fingers crossed those days are behind him.
His and our third on the day put the icing on the cake of a fine performance. Three massive points to take home to the last remaining cold meats and pickles!
I really enjoy going to Portsmouth away. The current team make-up in the top flight dictates that we head north for pretty much every away game outside London so the trip to the south coast is most welcome. Fratton Park is an ageing ground and consequently the facilities for us away fans are not particularly fantastic (although the roof certainly helps!) but for me I quite like the nostalgic feeling such stadia bring for those of us who have watched football for many years.
For all the reasons above I very much hope Pompey go on to avoid the drop but as I enjoyed my pre-match refreshment in my usual haunt, for a couple of hours at least, I wanted them to get beat!
Nobody can be totally sure in any game but I was convinced after only 15 minutes we would go on to win. I fully expected to be under early pressure but we coped relatively easily and very quickly took complete control of the game.
Eddy's opener was crucial and laced with a certain amount of good fortune. If you don't shoot you don't score however, look at Frank Lampard's goalscoring record for example. I can't be totally sure as watching Chelsea appeals to me as much as 'Celebrity Brother Comes Ice Skating in the Jungle' or whatever it's called but a huge chunk of his goals come as a result of deflected shots entering the net.
Our second on the other hand was after a typical flowing patient passing move, superbly put away by Sami. Half-time, two-nil, lovely.
With West Ham away still relatively fresh in the memory the next goal was equally as crucial. Rambo topped his 'man of the match' performance with the best goal of the game and we were pretty much home and hosed. Again, like Abou, he is getting stronger and more powerful with every performance and he was superb at Fratton Park. Fantastic news for now and being so young, even more so for the future.
Our fourth was scored by arguably our most consistent player this season in Alex Song. A fine header in his penultimate game before his untimely and frustrating departure to the African Nations Cup. Like with an injury we can all look forward to his return in a few weeks. Good luck Songy! Being totally selfish however, am I allowed to say I hope they get knocked out early on?! Only joking Alex ;-)
FA Cup Third Round day is another one of those dates on the football calendar that seem to contain a unique buzz. Even with most of the ties having already taken place 24 hours earlier, Sunday was no different.
Upton Park is always a noisy ground and the five-and-a-half-odd thousand of us Gooners certainly played our part on a freezing cold day. Come half time however, it hadn't been the greatest of opening periods! Most of our passes had gone astray, it was a scrappy affair and to make matters worse our hosts grabbed an unlikely opener just as thoughts turned to a hot cup of Bovril.
Despite bags of effort from one or two of our younger players, at times they seemed to be trying a little too hard and as a result it took the introduction of Abou and Sami with about half an hour to go to turn the game.
Suddenly our passing looked more incisive and eventually our constant pressure was to tell, firstly with Rambo's fine strike bringing us level.
Eddy had played the first half wide left with Carlos up front. Having switched for the second period it was working much better, our winner a fine example of how.
Carlos’ fine cross saw Eddy out-muscle ex-Gooner Matt Upson and his fine header hit the top corner. Cue total pandemonium in Upton Park's 'Trevor Brooking Stand'! There is no doubt that although not ideal, coming back from a losing position feels far more satisfactory. It is also a fine way to warm up those freezing cold limbs believe me!
Job done, into the Fourth Round, the draw shortly after the final whistle once again being unkind serving us up yet another away tie at a fellow Premier League club.
We'll turn our minds to making one helluva racket in the Potteries later this month as for now we can concentrate on two home games on the bounce against Bolton and Everton.
Tomorrow is our crucial 'game in hand' after our Champions League qualifier back in August put pay to the original date for this fixture.
The weather forecast is not good as I speak, all we can hope is the heavy snow steers well clear of London N5.
Come on you mighty Gooners!
FrankCopyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 6 Jan 2010