Normal service is resumed somewhat, as Arsenal beat West Ham 3-1 at Upton Park, and Liverpool lost 2-1 at Manchester City. Manchester United rallied to beat Hull 3-2, Chelsea churned out a 1-0 win against Swansea and Everton suffered a shock defeat to Sunderland at Goodison Park.
Below that, are Newcastle United who we face tomorrow. They struggled in the early part of the season but now sit in 6th place in the Premier League and unfortunately for us are in a rich vain of form. But more on that later.
I caught most of the Manchester City v Liverpool encounter and although City are invincible at home, for me, Liverpool were unlucky not to get something from that match – and I thought that they did enough to win the game.
Suarez is in phenomenal form and caused City all kinds of problems. Along with Coutinho and Sterling, they created 4 or 5 really good chances which on another day (and if Suarez was on the end of them) they would have scored them all. It was definitely the toughest game Manchester City have had at home and Liverpool were unfortunate.
It’s a wide-open title race and Liverpool have shown that they are right in the thick of it.
One thing Brendan Rodgers did blame though was the referee. Sterling was flagged offside in a pivotable moment in the game and replays showed that he was a good 2 or 3 yards onside.
And that got me thinking about the Chelsea game where Mike Dean officiated. I had an online poll to see whether Arsenal fans thought he was a fucking wander, and 98% thought he was.
We’ve all seen the win percentage for Arsenal when Mike Dean referees our games, and compared to the other top sides, it is unbelievable. So when you see Mikel’s attempt to take off Arteta’s leg and Walcott’s blatant penalty appeal turned down, you have to wonder.
Arsene has had integrity when it comes to referees, stating publicly on one or more occasion that he feels it is inappropriate to do what Alex Ferguson used to do all the time, which was to publicly call out the referee before the game, and “hoping” that the referee would have a good game before it kicks off. That puts pressure on the referee and that’s why Old Trafford is notorious for a lot of dubious refereeing decisions. Arsene Wenger has stated many times that before the game kicks off, he has no idea who the referee is.
But maybe it’s time to stop being so nice. If Mike Dean is the referee in one of our games we should question his record. He clearly has a huge problem with Arsenal and some of the decisions in the Chelsea game were criminal. But as usual, it gets brushed under the carpet and a potential 3 points goes begging.
Anyway, onto football and Arsenal beat West Ham with a slightly nervy 3-1 win. We dominated the first half but did our best to try and not score by as many different methods as possible. How we didn’t open the scoring in the first 45 minutes was baffling.
Then as expect, we got the kick in the teeth we usually get when we spurn our chances. West Ham scored through Carlton Cole just after the break and that gave us an uphill challenge.
But credit to the lads, they rallied and hit back with 3 good goals. The equaliser came when Theo weaved his way through the West Ham defence and his tame shot managed to find its way through, but I wasn’t complaining. The Podolski’s long awaited comeback made the difference – his cross resulted in a collectors item through Theo Walcott’s header and then the German lashed in a really fantastic shot into the bottom corner for Arsenal’s third.
A great win, all three points and Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League. A good Boxing Day all round.
And on Sunday we see Arsenal travel to St James’ Park for a tough game against Newcastle. In the form table, they sit second, managing to rack up 13 points from a possible 18. Manchester City are top with 16 from 18, and Arsenal 6th with 11 from 18.
As I’ve already mentioned, Newcastle struggled a bit at the start of the season but have really found their feet now. Their form at home is excellent, having beaten Chelsea and drawing against Liverpool and Southampton. They have a lot of players who can cause problems and their confidence is sky high after smashing Stoke City 5-1.
So it will be one hell of a tough game for us.
Jack Wilshere is back which gives us more options in midfield, and apart from a few nervous moments the partnership of Mertesacker and Vermaelen looked pretty solid against West Ham. Upfront Arsene will have to choose carefully however as Giroud looks well off the pace (whether that’s down to quality or fatigue) and for me, Podolski has to start in the central striker position. With Özil and Theo in support, they should be too much for Newcastle United.