Have you finally caught your breath? It was a mental old Sunday afternoon in a sun soaked North London. One that saw our beloved Arsenal beat, arguably, the best team in world football. Man City, treble winners came to town and the Arsenal went toe to toe.
Was I nervous beforehand? Not really. Was I optimistic? Also not really. Make no mistake this is a massive game, especially following last season and especially because of our atrocious record against Man City. Yes we’ve overcome them in FA Cups and Community Shields but the league has always eluded us. As we made our way to the stadium we all hoped that this time it would be different.
In the opening exchanges, we looked nervous and a little bit lost to be honest. Man City were awesome. A couple of jittery moments and Nathan Ake (more anon) blazing over the bar when really he should’ve found the net didn’t set the most positive tone. After that the game changed into a bit of a “weird” match as the guy next to me put it. Periods of possession and control from each team, a bit nip and tuck and notably hardly any chances. I’m sure for a neutral it was a gruelling watch. But we, dear readers, are not neutrals.
Nil nil at home time was probably a fair reflection of the first half. However in the second half the game changed. We grew into the game and decided that we weren’t going to go down trying to take a single point. The introduction of the returning Martinelli penned Walker into the right back position. His pace usually means he can get away with marauding runs forward but he knew that was far too risky against the young Brazilian.
Now, Mikel Arteta has got plenty of flak for his substitutions over the last couple of seasons but I thought on Sunday he got them spot on. So it was fitting then that three of them combined in the decisive moment. Tomiyasu knocked it down to Havertz, who laid the ball off to the oncoming Martinelli who struck the ball brilliantly. Ake couldn’t get out of the way and it cannoned off his chin and into the net. The Emirates erupted in celebrations the likes of which I’ve never seen at home.
The last minutes were of course tense but I never felt like we were going to concede. A hugely satisfying three points going into the break then and the monkey off our back against Oil Money FC. Enjoy your week off and I’ll see you at Chelsea.