Some people look at life with the glass half full, some people with the glass half empty, but I prefer to look at the glass like a glass of Guinness: I see a glass full — of delicious beer. Yesterday’s win over Everton was no different. Some people choose to see only the negatives, some people only the positives while I saw a match full — of delicious beer.
Fabianski has been roundly criticized this season for the mistakes he makes, mistakes which some feel have cost Arsenal points, but I have taken quite a shine to Lukasz. He is still going to make some mistakes but he’s also going to make world class saves. Marcus Hannehman pointed out on the Match of the Day couch yesterday that several of the saves Fabianski made were simply blind saves, the one from Beckford in particular was at full stretch and he just got a palm to it. More importantly, though, he’s very vocal at the back and more than once I’ve even seen him order Cesc to do something. He commands the back line and that’s not something I’ve seen from an Arsenal keeper since Mad Jens was our number 1. Sure, there was the moment that he was floundering a bit at the back post and Saha’s header bounced off Lukasz’ head, but overall you have to admit that the keeper secured the points for the Gunners yesterday. After a glass — of delicious beer — I felt like he should have even had a clean sheet and would have if Saha’s foul on Song had been called.
Overall, I’m not quite ready to say he’s world class or that he’s the finished article but I am willing to say “shut up” to anyone who says we need a keeper. We have a keeper, he’s pretty damn good, and he’s saving us points — that glass is pretty full if you ask me.
The other player who often comes in for criticism is Andrei Arshavin. It’s not surprising that he’ll get some stick because he’s, well, he’s a bit lazy. I’ve never seen a player stand so stock still as his teammate scores: he doesn’t even change expression or shift his feet. Hell, he barely had the energy to turn his head!
Arshavin only managed 9 passes in the entire 66 minutes he played yesterday but he was one of the two Arsenal players who had shots from range, he drove at their defense when he had the ball, and he hustled to recover the spilled save and set up the opener. He now has two goals and five assists in his first 13 League matches and if he keeps doing that I have no problem with him playing a languid 66 minutes for Arsenal.
Chamakh is another player who can frustrate a bit, his left footed miss from 2 yards was as poor a finish as you will see all season. But unlike Arshavin, Chamakh’s work rate is amazing. He seems to be all over the pitch in the attack, linking play, and he’s always back defending on set pieces. Plus yesterday he set up Cesc’s goal with a truly wonderful pass between three Everton defenders. Not bad work.
Overall, this Arsenal team have something special about them that I can’t quite put my finger on but that reminds me of the 2001/2002 Arsenal team that barnstormed the second half of the season and won the League. If you look at the final table that year it looks like Arsenal won at a trot but the reality is that the race was much closer and in the end Arsenal had to overcome a tremendously physical challenge (and terrible refereeing) from Manchester United at Old Trafford to sew up the double. That team saw the emergence of one of my favorite players of all time, Freddie Ljungberg and if I were to draw a comparison, I’d say that Nasri has some Freddie about him. I’d love to see Nasri emerge as that star this season, I’d even send him the red hair dye to complete the job!
But what was truly remarkable about that team was that they went undefeated on the road for the entire season. Now, obviously, we can’t do that this year because we’ve already lost to Chelsea but so far Arsenal have the best away form of any team in the League. We’ve secured 14 points from 7 away games and our nearest rivals have just 10. Man U have the worst away record of the top teams with just 9 points — despite being unbeaten. If you look back though at the 2001/2002 team, you’ll see thaat it’s going to take more than just remaining unbeaten on the road. After December, Arsenal remained unbeaten at home and in the late months went on a tear of 3-0 and 2-0 wins to ensure the double.
We’ve got a long way to get there, but as I look through the bottom of my empty Guinness glass at the results from yesterday, with Chelsea being beaten at home 3-0 for the first time since they discovered a vaccine for polio and Arsenal grinding out a 2-1 win at Goodison, I can’t help but see that my glass is empty and I need another beer.
A full beer.