Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Still in the Hat

Having lost twice to them since they returned to the top flight, all us Gooners were extremely aware from the moment the draw was made that Swansea away was a tough FA Cup third-round draw. In a tie that very much came alive in the latter stages, the result gives us a second chance to progress and take on Brighton in the fourth round.

A belated Happy New Year to you all, a busy busy time meaning I haven't expressed my thoughts since before Christmas. The reality of January has now fully kicked in so things should be back to normal from now on!

The Boxing Day postponement meant our Christmas programme was reduced by a third, and the two games that did take place could not have been more different!

Newcastle at home went from being one of those total rollercoaster games to a highly-satisfying seven goal haul full of attacking flair and excitement. A perfect night out for the festive period in my book, even if defensively we looked 'suspect' at times.

I have been lucky enough to see us score seven on a number of occasions down the years but, other than pre-season friendlies, I have never seen us score eight. How close did we come when Oly smashed the bar in the final minute of injury time! I am being greedy of course, but the fact it would have been a 'first' made it more relevant.

Southampton on New Year's Day could not have been more of a contrast. A great day out off the pitch, with all those aspects that help clear the New Year's Eve 'head', was far from matched by events on it.

Second best through most of the game and looking surprisingly lacklustre, the only positive we can take is we came away with a point and didn't get beaten.

A performance that certainly didn't have us all heading into Wales on Sunday morning filled with confidence.

Pre-match refreshment however lifted the optimism levels, as it always does, and our magnificent away following did its utmost to contribute to our potential progression.

The first period seemed to come and go with very little happening, a couple of chances falling to both sides but neither team dominating at any stage.

The second half however, was completely different, with us totally dominating proceedings, creating a number of chances and having a good penalty shout turned down too.

Just as we were enjoying our best spell however, our hosts broke and we found ourselves a goal behind. Not in the plan and very frustrating given our start to the second half.

Credit where its due we continued to dominate and create chances but heading into the last ten minutes it looked like it might not be our day. Lukas then smashed home our equaliser and we poured forward in search of a winner.

Gibbo has been getting stronger and stronger the more he plays for me and his goal was simply superb. The one-two with Oly only tells half the story, his quite stupendous volley to put us in front a joy to behold. Cue one of 'those' jostles in the away end, the scars on my legs testament to it being a fine example!

Of course, it wouldn't be Arsenal if things didn't end there so we all look forward to replay next week!

Before that we take on the current League champions in the shape of billionaire-backed Man City.

A tough game of course but one for us to look forward to I feel.

Come on you mighty reds!!

Frank

Copyright 2014 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 8 Jan 2013