After the defeat against Everton I was livid. I’m not sure why really, but watching the game and seeing us concede a goal just before half time was a killer. We had played well for the first part of the first half and the frustrating thing was that we didn’t push on to score a second goal which in their current state, would have probably buried Everton and their fragile Premier League form.
For whatever reason, we took our foot off the gas and let Everton back into the game. It was a game I previewed and said would be tight – I incorrectly predicted a 2-1 for Arsenal – but I wasn’t a million miles away. With the game carefully poised at 1-1, anyone could have won the game.
Unfortunately it was Everton and it was yet another Merseyside team who beat us – our first defeat since the opening day of the season against Liverpool.
We were extremely unlucky not to get a point in the end despite our below par performance, with two shots saved on the line and stone wall penalty not given to Alexis Sanchez – and despite the disappointment it’s important to put things in perspective.
Yes, we’re not in the best position in the league after all the big teams won last night – we currently sit in 3rd on 34 points, with Chelsea top on 40, Liverpool above us on goal difference and Manchester City only a single point behind in 4th. Tottenham are 3 points behind in 5th, with United another 3 points behind them in 6th.
So if you take Chelsea out of the equation, then there’s only 4 points separating 2nd and 5th place in the Premier League.
If it wasn’t for Chelsea then I don’t think half the Arsenal fans would have been so disappointed and angry at losing to Everton. It’s the first time we’ve lost in 4 months and only the second time in the league. But Chelsea’s unbelievable form of 10 wins in a row is making them firm favourites.
Since the opening day defeat to Liverpool, our response has been nothing sort of outstanding.
In those games before the Everton loss, our record was 10 wins and 4 draws from 14 Premier League games – quite a response.
If you wanted to be picky, you would look at the games against Boro, Tottenham and United were we should have been braver and maybe won them, but at the same time 10 wins and 4 draws is nothing to be ashamed of.
Another positive is that the team looks much more capable of genuinely challenging for the title this season. Defensively we have weaknesses (as Gabriel showed midweek) but the form of Koscielny and Mustafi has been excellent. Monreal and Gibbs are fighting for the left back position and Bellerin and his replacement Jenkinson have been doing okay.
One player we do miss though is Santi Cazorla. There is no-one in the team like him and probably along with Özil, Sanchez and Cech, is only one of 4 players in our squad that is irreplaceable. That is a worry going into the busy Christmas period when a massive player like that is missing. You’ll remember his injury a couple of seasons ago pretty much derailed our title challenge then.
We have a massive game on Sunday where the winner takes the spoils. With both teams under pressure I can see that game ended 1-1. It’s a game where each team can’t afford to lose and a draw would suit them both.