So yesterday, I did my fair share of travelling up to Ashburton Grove and back and after arriving in Islington at eleven o'clock and wasting about an hour waiting for the co-hosts of 'Arsing Around' to show up and say “Hello Rob, long time no see.” looking like a lonely idiot, I was hoping for a pretty amazing Arsenal performance. Now we scored three goals, but so did Norwich.
It started with a good amount of optimism and delight, loanee and my most underrated player of the season Yossi Benayoun scored a blinder of a goal after two minutes. It was enough to get the crowd rocking, in fact out of all the games I've been to at the Emirates I'd have to say this has had the best atmosphere and a lot better compared to the library it has been in recent seasons.
The joy didn't last, just ten minutes later Norwich scored a plucky equaliser through Wes Hoolahan, the almost ever-reliable Woijciech Szczesny let one through his hands and made a cock-up only Manuel Almunia could probably top. It was all Norwich really deserved after we ridiculously decided to sit back after our early goal, foolish to do so with our defensive record.
Norwich then unfortunately unsurprisingly went ahead from a break away, a deflected Grant Holt shot went over Szczesny's head who decided instead of even trying to stop it going in would let it go over his head and in for Norwich's second. Let me be frank in saying, Szczesny, who has been a goalkeeper in an 8-2 defeat this season had I believe his worst performance in an Arsenal shirt, to the point where I for once didn't feel comfortable when the ball got near him, as I have done in the past with keepers like Almunia or Fabianski.
It remained that way until half-time, when I wasn't opposed to offers of getting absolutely hammered before the second half just to try and forget what an awful display I was witnessing as we were trying our hardest to not finish in the Top four. It felt like because of how exciting this year's UEFA Europa League has been the team fancied being in that next season as opposed to the Champions League.
The second half, we were definitely a lot better and had started bossing the game again and within the seventy-second minute finally equalised through, yes, that man again Robin Van Persie. In fact, our goals came from the decision to bring on Chamakh, who despite my sarcastic cheering made a huge difference. It proves how vital it is for us to get the second striker next year because of how much pressure is put on Van Persie being up there alone and how teams are able to mark him out of some games.
Van Persie then went on to get a second just eight minutes later to send the ground into pandemonium. It was literally as if the team had scored the goal that might win the title it seemed that important. However, our joy was once again ended, another defensive error from the back four who all had poor games but Laurent Koscielny, who when wasn't being thrown around by Norwich's attackers had the best game out of the back four and Morison scored against to level it.
There was a lot of anger from there, a lot left before the lap of appreciation, one fan was even thrown out, I assume for abusing the Norwich fans, I just stood in disbelief watching us throw away a game we should have won. Sitting in the clock end I missed our penalty appeal at the end, from where I was it looked soft, many have disagreed and said it was a nailed on decision the officials got wrong and not for the first time. The referee was useless yesterday for his lack of control, too many Norwich players got away with incidents they should have been booked for, time wasting and a lot of dissent was my main issue.
However, despite all this, we have somehow come out in the driving seat and although I wont complain should we finish third I will feel that it is somewhat undeserved. Now before I am yet again criticised for this opinion let me elaborate. I don't think that any of the three (Arsenal, Tottenham or Newcastle) deserve to finish third in regards to their recent form. All three teams are slowly stumbling over the line and in any other season we'd probably finish about sixth but somehow our two stand-out decent runs of the season, mixed with the odd good result and good fortune elsewhere across this season may see us fall over the line in third and despite the fact I wont believe we deserve to be there and are let's be honest, lucky, I shall not be complaining. Like the title says: “Let's not beat around the bush, we're bad, but the rest aren't any better.”