TURNING THE CORNER

Quite a week and half it has been for us. Bouncing back with three wins on the trot after that loss away to Watford is always a good sign. It’s been ten days of good signs since that frustrating loss away to Watford.

Honestly, a game away to Red Star Belgrade was the last thing I wanted. The atmosphere there is very hostile and the thought of our young boys playing in such an environment wasn’t very pleasing. It was very dull football from Arsenal for almost the entire game until Jack, Theo and Giroud decided to spark things up; and boy oh boy did they light it up! That typical Jack Wilshere turn to get away from three defenders to start off the move by Jack followed by the one-two with Theo and that bicycle kick to finish off the move by the Scorpion King (come on! I had to use it!!) made the wait for the goal worth it! To watch that move live when it was almost midnight in India was just the thing I needed to sleep with a big smile on my face. Three wins in three in the group stage means we’re well on our way to the knockout stages of the Europa League.

The big game was away at Merseyside where a rather poor Everton were waiting for us. Given the recent results for both the teams, this should have been a routine win for us despite that loss to Watford. But the last time a Ronald Koeman side was struggling so much, they beat us 4-0 at St. Mary’s back in 2015. It would have been the most Arsenal-esque thing to go to Everton and come back disappointed.

But there were positives from before the kick off – when the team was announced. For the first time this season, Arsene started with Lacazette, Alexis and Ozil together. That starting eleven was probably our strongest with this squad and the excitement level rose. Rooney loves a goal against us and he got that, but we replied with five and gifted another one to the Toffees. Ozil was sublime in that game and created eight chances of which six came of them were in the first half itself! So much movement around him. We finally got our first away win of the season and in some style.

We moved from winning away in the Europa League to winning away in the Premier League to hosting Norwich in the Carabao Cup. It was certain that Jack would start and so would Giroud and that naturally brought back memories of THAT goal by Wilshere against Norwich City in 2013. That move will get you dizzy even in slow motion.

It was rather a struggle to get win against the Canaries. Talk about great footballing moments and Eddie Nketiah’s goal with his first touch within fifteen seconds of coming on as a substitute qualifies as that. What a feeling to score with your first touch and then going on to score the winner with a cracking header to secure the win and entry in the next round.

In these past few years, we’ve rather slowed down in terms of promoting youngsters. The likes of Jon Toral, Gedion Zelalem, Chuba Akpom have faded away but it is good to see youngsters getting competitive playing time. Eddie Nketiah made an impact any young player would dream of.

That loss at Watford was frustrating and given the times we are in as a club, any loss is made a huge issue of on social media by fans and of course, journalists. To come out of it, go on to win two crucial away games and progress in the League Cup are all positives. The real test is yet to come with games against Man City and Spurs lined up, but if we go into them with momentum, we should have a real chance, provided the feel around the club is positive – get a hint, and get behind the club!

COYG!

 

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Kshitij Gokhale

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