3 Bs (Blackburn, Bolton, Braga) = an A+? Yes please! With an extra-credit piece on “How to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!”

I have to admit that I have been a somewhat ‘lax’ Gooner Girl for the past few weeks. Start of a new Uni year, returning to the rainy wonderland that is the north-west of England, my responsibilities as an International Student Assistant and a member of the Freshers Volunteer team, coupled by the lack of internet in my room for now. But my heart has certainly been with the Boys in red and white.

I do however have a LOT of match-time to catch up on. Which is why I’m trying something different for this article. Here goes – 

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU:

1) The fact that we dropped 5 points in two consecutive games against teams we should have beaten.

2) The fact that we let slip a golden opportunity to close the gap between table-leaders and title holders Chelsea, on a day when they travelled to the Eastlands and were undone by a solitary Carlos Tevez goal.

3)The fact the we couldn’t finish off the game at the Stadium of Light when we had multiple chances, even with Song sent off.

4) The fact that stand-in captain Tomas Rosicky chose to step up to the plate himself when we were awarded a penalty, and a chance to make the score 2-0 in our advantage, and then proceeded to mistake some point a good few feet higher than the actual cross-bar to place his shot.

5) The fact that it was such a baffling decision, especially when Nasri and Chamakh were on the field – both of whom have scored with penalties for the Gunners in far more recent memory. We really wouldn’t be talking about Bent’s goal if that penalty had gone in now, would we? But then again, we missed multiple chances before and after the penalty, so it’s all water under the bridge.

6) The fact that we went 3 goals down at home against a newly promoted side that hasn’t beaten us in a very long time, before hero of the day, Nasri saved us some shame by his late strike.

7) The fact that we can be so brilliant against local rivals and new top-4 members Tottenham Hotspur on the Tuesday in an AWAY match and then struggle so much to find our stride at HOME against a team we should have beaten in any likelihood. Though, I have to say as much as it pains me, well done West Bromwich Albion! You were the team deserving of the three points.

8) Injuries, The bane of Arsenal for what seems like a very long time! I suspect it is a combination of very bad luck, something not quite right with the tackling, the treatment of being tackled in training and great players who are also quite injury-prone (Robin Van Persie and Walcott anyone?) With Fabregas, RVP, Theo, Vermaelen and the likes out injured, are we heading towards the position we were in last season?
That said the reinforcements seem to be in much better form and of much better quality this time around, with players ready to fill the shoes of those on the sidelines. Will that be good enough on a regular basis until the injured are back? Only time will tell.

9) The fact that after 3 seasons of having goalkeeping problems, we are still in the same situation. January transfer window to bring some hope? I wouldn’t hold my breath.
10) The fact that I don’t want to have to deal with yet another ‘almost there but not quite, oh well there’s always next year’ season. Though I’ll still be as hardcore a Gooner!
10 RECENT THINGS THAT HAVE MADE ME A HAPPY GOONER GIRL:

1) All the new signings – Maroune Chamakh, Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Kosicelny, seem to have been Gunners for the longest time already. Le Prof Wenger has still got the touch!

2) Cesc Fabregas, ‘Nuff said!

3) Arsenal’s systematic dismantling of the Portuguese side Braga and the back to back EPL wins against oft-nemeses Blackburn and Bolton.

4) I saved this for a separate point only because I wanted to savour it. Tottenham Hotspurs. White Hart Lane, Third Round of Carling Cup. Final score? Arsenal 4, Spurs 1!

5) The glimpses of the mental toughness, never-say-die attitude and the ability to win ‘ugly’ that have been inconsistently showcased by the Arsenal.

6) Arsenal’s artistic, elegant game in full flight that can also be so surprisingly lethal and devastating for the opposition. We have already had quite a bit of that so far and I’m not complaining!

7) Samir Nasri has been in brilliant and inspiring form for us this season. Here’s to hoping he keeps it up!

8) Ditto for Rosicky. Though not as much as Nasri, and keeping aside his terrible penalty miss, he has been playing a lot better than he did last season. It’s nice to see him finally showing some signs of going back to the player he was before the injury that laid him off for so long.

9) Carlos Vela. He has been highly impressive whenever he’s got a chance to play and I think this will be the break-out year for him. Le Prof just needs to give him more playing time.

10) Youth. The likes of Wilshere, Gibbs, Vela, Ramsey (Set to return next month, yay!) getting to play first-team football on a regular basis and having consistently impressive games. 

RANDOM TIDBITS:

1) Will Wojciech Szczsny and Vito Mannone finally get more play time? Especially now that Manuel Almunia is injured?
2) That said, I am not going to lie about my happiness at the Shay Given-Maarten Stekelenberg rumours for the January transfer window. Fingers and toes and legs and arms crossed? Yes yes yes!
3) Chamakh does need RVP and Nicklas Bendtner to help him man the front-line more successfully and with less effort. But I love the fact that his eye for goal is accompanied by a very hard work-ethic that makes sure he is as involved in putting the ball into the opponents’ nets, as he is in getting the ball back and working the mid-field when his team lose possession.
4) Squillaci has been pretty solid so far. And he is exactly what the doctor, or in this case Le Prof ordered. Strong, tall, commanding, quiet, efficient and assured. He has combined brilliantly with the other Frenchman and newcomer Koscielny to strengthen the back-line in the absence of every Gooner’s favourite Belgian, Thomas Vermaelen. Once he is back from injury, we will be more solid at the back than we have been in a long long time.
5) And finally, here’s to the Gunners getting back to winning ways in what is going to be a tough week – facing Partizan Belgrade at their home ground tonight and the formidable Chelsea on the weekend at Stamford Bridge. Never a better chance to show what we are made of! Come on the Arsenal!!!
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