Another cold and wet Monday morning. However, any lingering tinges of doom and gloom should have been forgotten after the Manure result. I hope most Arsenal fans are now in a far better mood than they were seven days ago. Still, this won't stop the inquisition into why we don't play like that more often. How can we lose to Stoke and beat ManUre within a week?
I said on Saturday that the time for analysis of the ManUre game would come later, and now is probably as good a time as any for my tuppence worth.
Arsenal played very well against Manure. The Emirates was a cauldron of sound and we got the result we wanted. However, ever since Saturday afternoon, I have had some small niggling doubts about how good we actually were. Without wanting to take anything away from the performance or the result, this blog will try to be as objective in victory as we always try to be in defeat. Just as things often are not that bad when you lose, there are sometimes also not as good as you might wish for when we win.
The stats from Saturday are a little uncomfortable. ManUre had more possession and more shots (on and off target). They also created some excellent chances. I could not believe Rooney failed to even hit the target in the first half when ManUre put together the move of the match through Berbatov and Ronaldo (about the only good thing those two did though). Equally, I thought Carrick had scored at the beginning of the game. Clichy will not come closer (i hope) to scoring an o.g. and Ronaldo missed a sitter in the second half.
However, we for once took our chances and then defended well. From that perspective it was not a typical Arsenal performance. But we could so easily have gone behind to Manure and I'm sure the heads would have dropped. The fact that Manure only scored one (the obligatory opposition wonder goal at the Emirates) probably had as much to do with bad Manure finishing then excellent defending by us. Conversely, Vidic made a couple of uncharacteristic errors, one which let Nasri in for his second goal.
So what does this tell us? I think the Manure game shows what a good team like Arsenal can do when we believe in ourselves. But its important to remember how important those two things are - talent and belief. We have always had the talent, we perhaps could do with a little more belief.
We remain short of muscle in the team, but Silvestre is increasing looking like the bargain of the season. If anything, Fergie will be ruing his decision to try and play us at football - in the good old days he would have played 4-4-2 with one winger and at least one goat in midfield to do little more than kick us (hello Phil Neville or John O'Shea). Our problem is against the teams who lack a bit of talent and try to out-fight us (hello Stoke), or where we underestimate teams and don't focus on winning the game ugly if we have to (hello Hull, Fulham etc). Nothing has really changed in that respect.
So its back to the day jobs now. The Manure game should be used as a basis for some confidence but not dwelt on. We were 6 points behind the leaders on Friday and we are still 6 points behind them on Monday. Its going to be a long season and we have big games coming up in November, especially Chelsea away. Most of the first team should get a rest against Wigan tomorrow (hopefully all the first team but I doubt we have another 11 bodies available) and its Aston Villa next on Saturday, who are in mini-slump of their own. Just like we were until we beat ManUre, so we underestimate them at our peril.