Random thoughts on a glorious occasion.
Where to start? The players, maybe:
Ramsdale – dominant performance, saves, clearances, catching, punching – and best of all, shithousing Poorarlison, who swallowed the bate, and I’m waiting for his citing by the FA, but I won’t hold my breath
White – was… Whiter than White, does almost everything brilliantly, but needs to master his crossing
Saliba! – error free
Gabriel! – monster with exquisite distribution
Zinchenko – out and out baller, and one of the heartbeats of the team
Partey – the lean controller, very Vieira-esque
Xhaka – master of all he surveys
Odegaard – wow! Just wow
Saka – silky first touch, tormentor in chief
Martinelli – seems to have Velcro attaching the ball to his boots
Nketiah – if his first touch was as magnetic as Saka’s, he would have had three goals, but in everything else, fierce and combative
The manager: I think people – both supporters and those outside the club, are beginning to realise what a special person we have in Arteta. His tactical acumen, his technical knowledge, his teaching ability, and his player-management, are scary. In his first job as a manager. He has distilled the best of Moyes, Arsene and Pep. I hope he stays for years.
The referee: it seems unfair to criticise Pawson, considering we didn’t concede a penalty (!), and he got most of the big calls right; but how was Romero still on the pitch, after six, maybe even seven, bookable fouls, AFTER being booked.
As to the narrative of the match, all Arsenal in the first half, beautiful control and link-up play; Sp*rs resurgent in the second half, but Arsenal maintained defensive control. I was on edge until Odegaard scored, but sanguine and relaxed thereafter, so much confidence do I have in this group of players.
As noted last week, I still think a deep midfielder is more of a priority than another forward (both would be nice, of course). There are players to come in if Saka or Martinelli are injured. The fall-off if Partey’s out again is too much.
Mudryk: I can’t let it pass without a comment on that transfer. I actually feel sorry for the guy. He looks so unhappy at Stamford Bridge, one can’t help speculating that Shaktar told him “it’s Chelsea or nothing”. If he doesn’t prove as spectacular as his transfer fee, his career is almost over, tied as he is by high wages and a long contract. He might, but Arsenal were absolutely right to walk away. In fact, I think they should have abandoned talks after the second bid was rejected. And let’s face it, at that club just now, players are more likely to underperform, given the chaos between owner and manager. When Potter was asked about Mudryk, he didn’t confront the question of whether he wanted him, and was insipid in his praise.
London is red. Let’s wallow in it, and anticipate the meeting next Sunday with Manure.