Like most people currently trying to navigate their way through this new year in the hope that it will be better than the last, I’m on a bit of a health kick.
There’s a problem with that though; no matter how many 5Ks and sessions of lifting heavy things up and putting them back down again multiple times you can fit into a week, if you’re watching Arsenal, then your heart’s in trouble.
Right now, the players are jogging up an down a snow-dusted pitch at The Hawthorns and all of the game pre-amble that I usually try to avoid is waxing lyrical about how Arsenal have turned a corner, winning six points out a possible six in the last two games.
I mean, it’s a start isn’t it, but hardly the fabled return of the Invincibles. Don’t get me wrong, that would be really nice. Really really nice, but it seems unlikely at the moment. The game’s starting now…
Alright the game’s over and yeah we’re going to win the league. That was luuurvely.
In all seriousness, yes it was West Brom - arguably the worst team in the league - but you have to play the team put in front of you and Arsenal did that as well as almost anyone could… barring Leeds.
There was so much to like about the performance, which even extends to the disallowed goal that the opposition scored thanks entirely to a high defensive line and offside trap. I think that was on purpose, anyway?
On the subject of the defence, I love love loved how composed we were at the back. There was a beautiful moment at - I think - around the 19th minute when a West Brom player played the ball forward in our half and in a piece of very proactive defending, Mari strode forward and intercepted the ball, before passing it to Holding, who juggled it around for a minute and then passed it forward.
There was a lot of that to enjoy and even more so in the second half. So much calmness and authority on the ball, playing out from the back and creating attacks. It was delicious.
Again, I’m acutely aware that we were playing West Brom, but these teams who dig in and never really actually try to play football are the sorts that we always struggled with so you know, that was nice. The obvious props go to the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe who tied absolutely everything together with their energy and class but we mustn’t forget basically everyone else.
The first two goals were wonderful, wonderful things to behold with a masterclass from Tierney, followed by a sumptuous team goal that involved Smith-Rowe, Saka and Lacazette. I felt like I was watching the old days. As you know, the next half showed that we were still hungry for more - unlike how we held onto out 1-0 lead against Brighton - and the team and more specifically Lacazette showed their class.
All in all, really nice.
What next for The Arsenal?
So now what? Newcastle in the FA Cup followed by Crystal Palace. I don’t know, we should probably try to win those. Would be good, wouldn’t it? We’re in eleventh now and ideally we’ll go higher than that.
As for a few other things that happened either today or between our last game and now, I saw this morning that Arsenal are considering selling Saliba, which would be appalling even if I don’t know whether or not it’s true and secondly, Aubameyang really needs to score.
You could just see his confidence falling and falling and falling with every chance he missed and he really needs that goal. Here’s to hoping he gets a couple very soon or some Martinelli action instead.
The Gooner nation sending love to Jake Coare
Finally, my thoughts go out to Jake Coare, his friends and his family. This whole situation over the last year has been terrible and has affected many people in many different ways, and it’s heartbreaking to see the toll it extracts on certain individuals.
In the darkness of the situation, I was delighted to see the Arsenal family pulling together to help Jake out and was genuinely proud of the response from the official Arsenal Twitter account and the likes of Tony Adams.
You are very loved, Jake, and I hope both the reaction to recent events and the game against West Brom have given you something to smile about.