A ball, headed goal-ward,
The keeper looks on and despairs;
the Czech clears the line.
The Ivorian dances and jukes,
a defender spins like a top as
that Ivorian sends a cross—
the Czech heads it home.
A Welshman sees an opening;
he puts it across the box.
The Czech blasts it, and blasts it
anew, putting it home again.
Man. What a game for Rosický. A goal-line clearance at 12′. A brilliant goal at 20′. Another brilliant goal at 50′. I hope Marco Reus was watching that one because Rosický is far and away the man of the match. About the only notable flaw, one that he corrected immediately, was putting his first attempt on the second goal right at the keeper, although it did give him the rebound that he volleyed home so deliciously. Too bad Ramsey can’t get an assist to his credit; his pass in to Rosický was perfectly placed. So it goes. As it stands, Ramsey and Gervinho can share second-honors for MOTM behind Rosický.
We’re lucky to have escaped with all three, in all honesty. Once Mertesacker was sent off, West Brom simply dominated possession and had shot after shot after shot. Only luck, sheer luck, kept us ahead as their well-taken shots went inches wide over and over again. However, I’m not complaining, not in the least. After winning three games in a row in convincing fashion, it’s actually quite good to see our boys eke one out. The first 78 minutes were essentially all ours until we had to finish the game a man down, after which West Brom came to life and very nearly levelled the score. How many times have we seen points slip away due to bad luck and unlucky breaks? How many times have we been too fragile in a tense situation? I’m thoroughly satisfied with this one; it even gives us a chance to enjoy a spell in 4th place until we see what happens with Chelsea and Spurs tomorrow. I’d imagine Chelsea will have little trouble with Sunderland, but a much-depleted Spurs have to visit Everton. Interesting stuff on that end.
|Just ignore that 5th column for now and enjoy the 1st and 4th.|
However, it’s us I want to focus on. After Rosický, Ramsey, and Gervinho, we saw strong games from Monreal, Cazorla, Koscielny, and Fabianski, but things get a little shaky beyond them. Sagna in particular struggled, especially when Lukaku came on. Between his appearance and their man-advantage, it seemed like almost all of their attacks came down our right side, and frequently at Sagna’s expense. Whether this is due to Lukaku’s quality, Sagna’s form, or mere coincidence is secondary to the fact that Sagna was caught out too many times, and we’re lucky to have not conceded from any of the seemingly countless chances they created. I don’t know if Jenkinson would have done much better in that situation. By the end of the game, it seems like we had thrown on anyone who had ever played defense except Jenkinson. Well, we escaped, and that’s that.
In tying up a few other loose ends, Vermaelen came on and looks to replace Mertesacker next week as well, so that issue seems to have resolved itself on its own for now. The captain assumes his, um, rightful place, if only by default. As for our keeper, the news is decidedly more mixed. Szczęsny wasn’t even in the squad today. Is that a sign of trouble or of respect. Was he told to stay home in order to further ponder his poor form, or was he allowed to stay home to avoid the indignity of sitting on the bench? Hard to tell. Fabianski did pretty well and almost stopped the penalty, only to see the ball squirm under his leg. He guessed right, which is about all you can ask of a keeper in that situation. To then lambast him for conceding is a bit much in my book. Before you lay into me or him, have a friend take a pot-shot from 18 yards out and see how you do, never mind 12.
What this means is beyond me for now, and I don’t really care. There’s the forest, and there’s the trees. A quick look at the forest shows us winning a sixth Prem game out of seven, three in a row (four, including at Bayern) and sitting in 4th place. All in all, that will do nicely.