Happy New Year Gunners!

While it has been a somewhat tumultuous week in terms of football, I’d still say most Gunners would not be too unhappy about 3 games played, 7 points in the bag, and a third place going into 2011.

However, this does not mean that we are not allowed to be exasperated with those 2 dropped points. They will hurt. And we have every right to feel a bit aggrieved. Especially after this has been the sort of Gunners tendency that has tended to let them down in past seasons. Cruising at 2-1 with the opposition reduced to ten men does not immediately translate into 2-2 final time courtesy own goal from the team in front.

Yet another own goal by an Arsenal player is certainly not welcome. Though, I am not going to mention bad referee decisions including a certain penalty that should have gone Arsenal’s way immediately after Squillaci had inadvertently headed into his own net. This was our own doing. 3 away points were ours to lose and that draw did feel like a loss, especially with table leaders United having dropped two points the day before at St. Andrews. How important are those dropped points going to be at the end of 38 games? Only time will tell

Two urgent key words for the Gunners in the New Year are consistency and defensive stability. I would still say that the Gunners are in with a chance at the title, and the Carling Cup is certainly ours to lose, so I would be foolish not to be hopeful. However, I am, as ever, cautious. Not because I don’t have faith in my team. But because I care too much.

The Birmingham City match was ideal to kick start a potentially successful 2011. Recent encounters against them, both at St. Andrews and at the Emirates have been physical. They like to get ‘stuck in’ and it has been proven to affect the Gunners. However, I was happy to see that the team was able to retain the improved physicality, refusal to be bullied, commitment to possession, and tackles when not in possession which they showed against Chelsea. That said, B. City were extremely lucky not to be down to nine men just before half-time. The culprits? Lee Bowyer and Roger Johnson. That’s all I’m going to say before any possible action by the FA.

However, I do admit that we were lucky on the whole, in terms of refereeing decisions. I am not completely sure about the free-kick that led to RVP’s opener for Arsenal, but hey, luck is a very fickle thing in the English Premier League and we’ve been on the wrong side of it far too many times for me to feel bad for Birmingham, or to complain. It was nice to see Van Persie get on the scoring sheet (albeit aided by a huge deflection) and though he missed two great opportunities to build up on his first goal, I am happy to slowly see him get back to the lethal RVP who has been so effective for the Gunners in the past.

Samir Nasri continues his superlative form – both in terms of creative play and goal-scoring. Cesc Fabregas is almost back to the El Capitan we love and love more. Walcott is still quite inconsistent at best but like I’ve said before, even if he keeps scoring and/or creating chances, like he has been, I’ll not grudge him the time he needs to get to that next level. Arshavin continues to be the very unusual mix of exasperatingly lazy and awe-inspiringly brilliant, but he seems to be getting somewhat of an impetus which can only be good news. Defence is still uncertain at best, especially when Birmingham floated in long balls, and then had Zigic come on as a second striker, but here’s to Fabianski building on some great saves and good performances!

Overall, a 3-0 away win at a ground where not many teams have gotten away with three points is a great way to start the New Year. We need to apply the same formula when we play against teams who play a similar style to Birmingham … that is, try to intimidate Arsenal with a physical style … a Man City visit to the Emirates awaits us, followed by the FA Cup game against Leeds on the weekend, followed by the Carling Cup semi-final against Ipswich next Wednesday.

Come on you Gunners!!!

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