Partizan Belgrade 1 Arsenal 3
- The performance was neither here nor there. Playing away in Eastern Europe is never easy - witness the quite ridiculous floodlight failure fiasco. But after the Sunderland and West Brom results (and with our next two matches being Chelsea and Man City, both away) it was vital to win a football match. There was a danger this club would have no positive momentum whatsoever come mid-October - particularly if we hadn't won in in a month.
- Nonetheless, we played very well. Arshavin and Wilshere showed some real cutting edge and it was only our finishing which let us down in the first half. Cleo is a good player and the defence coped admirably with his threat.
- If we're going to miss penalties, let's do it in Champions League group games, probably the least important matches we play each year. Who will remember in a few weeks that Nicolas Anelka scored a penalty for Chelsea against Marseilles? Very few people. Who'll remember he missed in the Champions League final? Pretty much everyone.
- Of course the media coverage of Fabianski was overblown. But when has it ever not been? At Ewood Park last year, we lost 2-1 where we created very little. Blackburn pinged thirty long-balls at the Arsenal box and he missed two of them. We defended badly and attacked badly but he was blamed. There were no repercussions for the lack of protection from the defence. So of course one penalty save and one other save doesn't make him a brilliant goalkeeper. But the suggestion he was the worst goalkeeper ever to play for Arsenal was also farcical. I wish him well against Chelsea.
- And so to Chelsea. I know they're missing Lampard, but with no Almunia, Vermaelen, Fabregas, Van Persie, Bendtner, or Walcott, we're huge second favourites. We'd be underdogs even with all of them so for Arsenal to win today would be truly extraordinary. A national newspaper (clue: I can't link to it) said yesterday that Arsenal have a 2% chance of victory. I think that's a little harsh but I presume there are very few Gooners who wouldn't take a draw.
- Jack Wilshere was dreadful against Liverpool but has been imperious ever since. This is a huge game for him.
- Samir Nasri started his Arsenal career brilliantly in 2008 by scoring two goals against Man United. There's huge pressure on him to give us a performance today.
- This is the hardest match of the season. So to be seven points behind would not be a disaster. Think how Scolari's Chelsea started brilliantly and then folded later in the year. The League isn't won in October.
- If you're a betting man and you don't like betting against Arsenal, keep your money in your wallet.
Come on you Arsenal!
Keep the faith,