Having spent a week in beautiful Cairns avoiding crocodiles, man-eating spiders and sharks, I headed back down to Sydney to resume the art of watching every 2013/2014 Arsenal match with another Gooner. This particular game was a Monday evening one in the UK, translating to a 7am kickoff here in New South Wales, meaning yet another trip to a casino and my fourth in four weeks.
Unfortunately, the game wasn't a great one, far from it in fact. I would say that, even for an Arsenal fan, the City game last weekend was a much better one to watch despite walking away with zero points. A lot of people are disappointed, saying that 'we should have won' and 'this is a disaster', and in fairness I think we had the advantage, having not played a mid-week game like Chelsea had. They played defensively but we didn't want to risk upsetting the equilibrium of defending well with a lot of attack-minded players - it was frustrating to watch because you could see that a pair of fresh legs in either Podolski or Cazorla would have given us a boost for the last fifteen minutes, and if it was Ozil or Walcott making way, the rhythm of the team wouldn't have been in doubt. But Wenger knows best, and so for the first time since I can remember, we didn't use a single sub. The goalless draw meant going into Christmas joint top of the league, but second on goal-difference to Liverpool.
It was an opportunity missed, but it could just as easily be looked at as a disaster averted. Being top of the table at Christmas is something that we haven't been able to witness for a number of years, and it should give us a great deal of hope and confidence to take into the next few weeks of football. We've had a very difficult run of fixtures and now, despite a bit of congestion, you'd like to say we'll take the majority of points up for offer against West Ham, Newcastle, Cardiff, Villa, Fulham and Southampton, if we play the way we played against City for example. And that'll take us right up to the end of January. When you consider that Liverpool have to play Chelsea and Man City in that same time, as well as the Merseyside derby, this imminent run of fixtures could definitely go in our favour.
Let's first see how we get on at Upton Park. COYG