Another week, another defeat. Thoughts as follows:
* The line-up was probably as good as it was going to get, given our current squad. Personally, I would have started Podolski instead of Giroud, and Koscielny instead of Vermaelen, but more on that on a bit. The amount of poor players in the squad has reached such a point that it's actually quite hard to rotate the team.
A scrappy win, but a win nonetheless. Thoughts as follows:
* I didn't like the starting line-up, and the midfield looked particularly shaky. There didn't appear to be much of a sense of balance in that eleven. Yes, it might only be Villa at home, but who was going to do the dirty defensive work in midfield?
I had, by accident, scheduled to have my cable replaced during the game yesterday. This meant I missed about a third of the game, for which I should probably be grateful. This was another season-defining moment, in a season that has largely been defined in terms of absolutely dreadful results. Thoughts as follows:
* The team selection was fine, other than Coquelin starting at right-back.
As is customary for me now with midweek games, I turned off all contact with the Arsenal world on Tuesday afternoon, and waited until I got home to watch the game "as live." Since moving to America I've discovered that while getting up early on the weekends to watch games is a pain, missing matches, or having to watch them on delay, because they're played midweek while I'm at work is even worse.
A historic defeat, or the new normal? Thoughts as follows: * Whether we had won or lost, this match would have generated headlines of "Arsenal in crisis", owing to the Black Scarf march (or "walk", or whatever) that preceded it. Judging from photos, a fairly sizable amount of people joined the Black Scarf leadership as they walked to the ground, and it's clear that their views can no longer be ascribed to a lunatic fringe.
So, there was no post after the Schalke game on Tuesday because I flipped straight from watching the game to the results of the US election as they started to come in. Thankfully, my newly adopted country decided to not elect a sociopath - but more on that in a bit. Thoughts on Fulham as follows:
* As in Germany, we started well, racing into a two goal lead.
Whoever said the League Cup was boring? Seven thoughts for seven goals.
* I'm not going to lie, you must have something approaching clinical optimism if you truly believed that Arsenal would win when Reading scored their fourth goal. The first forty minutes or so were simply an utter shambles, and if the scoreline had stayed this way there would have been something approaching a meltdown after the game among the Arsenal fanbase.
Not our finest 90 minutes, but a welcome return to form. Thoughts as follows:
* The big news was, of course, Wilshere's return. And while he was only on the pitch for about an hour, he did a lot to show just how much we have missed him over the last year. Jack can open up the midfield with both his passing, but also with the manner with which he carries the ball.
A good win in a frenetic London derby. Thoughts, including slices of humble pie, as follows:
* I liked the line-up. I think Ramsey has done enough to warrant a start - indeed, in all honesty, I would play him before Diaby even if both were fully fit. Ramsey may not have Diaby's glue-like ability to get the ball to stick to his feet while he runs, but I just feel that Ramsey contributes more, both defensively and offensively, to games on a more regular basis.
After two enjoyable goal-fests, a horrible result against a horrible team. Thoughts as follows:
* Let's get straight to it - the decision to drop Mertesacker was absurd. Utterly, utterly absurd. I don't want to try and paint Per as some Baresi-esque defensive titan, but he has been our best centre-back this season.
A engrossing match at the Etihad today. Thoughts as follows:
* I was surprised by the line-ups when I saw them. For City, playing Aguero behind Dzeko seemed like a classic case of trying to awkwardly shoe-horn your in-form striker into the side, at the expense of the team's overall coherency.
I have to admit it - I am jealous if you made the game. Arsenal winning, and a trip to the south of France to boot? It surely doesn't get much better than that. Anyway, a close win, and lot's to talk about.
* The selection - I'll talk about this more in my summing up, but I was very surprised when I saw the team sheet.