'Tis the Season to be Merry
As I wasn`t one of the lucky 26,801 to see perhaps the best spectacle of purist football seen at Carrow Road for some time, and had to make do with an Andy Gray-less Sky Sports, I wasn`t party to what the atmosphere was like at the ground. However, a few fans I`ve subsequently spoken with were somewhat downbeat following MOTD-induced reflection over the weekend.
Perhaps this is what happens when expectations are raised so high. Granted, it wasn`t an open game of chances equally for both sides like the one at Old Trafford, or a game that even yielded any points. However, a healthy dose of reality would not go amiss here.
Robin van Persie is a world beater and in the form of his life. At 28 years old, he is playing at his peak and finally delivering the potential he`s always promised in glimpses of seasons past and present. For a player that is all left foot, he did superbly well to finally put Arsenal in front with the deftest of chips from his swinger of a right foot. He would currently be a match for any of the top players in the world. I`d be surprised if he didn`t score another against Borussia Dortmund tonight. If he was fit all last season, Arsenal would have arguably been coming to Carrow Road as champions, he is that important to them.
It wasn`t just RVP either; Theo Walcott embarrassingly ran rings around Marc Tierney, almost at will (Mad? I bet he was flaming livid), whilst Song, Arteta and Ramsey comfortably controlled the middle of the park. Let`s not get caught up on how good the opposition were, but Christ they were exceptional. Only Manchester City are more of a worrying prospect on our hallowed turf.
However, Saturday was certainly not 'the 'worst we`ve played this season` (as per one comment from a fellow fan) and I don`t think it could have been '5 or 6` (as was another comment).
The point is this, it wasn`t 5 or 6. We lost 2-1 to perhaps the form team in the best league in the world, and looked threatening for the whole game. In fact, the stats would suggest that we weren`t that far behind in talent either, having a 74% pass completion rate against Arsenal`s 79%. We`ve historically been guilty of not doing as well as we should with the players we`ve got, whilst now the reverse is true.
As Lambert said, the fact that we were still in the game right up to the final whistle shows how far we`ve come in such a short space of time. Everyone is looking ahead to the game against QPR and yes it would be great to bounce back with 3 points. Arguably though, if ever there was a better time to drop points against the teams around us, it is now. If we don`t win, there is no reason to panic or criticise. Lambert has put us in a strong position, but it is ultimately the results from the Christmas period onwards that will define our season.
Sir Paul deserves our trust and he deserves time. Early winter home defeats to Hull and Portsmouth last season did perhaps more good than harm in the long run. I believe that having Lambert in charge, with a strong, consistent and supportive board presence, backed vocally by 100% of the crowd is a winning formula and that no-one would be able to achieve more with this current crop of players. So, whilst there maybe the odd hiccup along the way, let`s keep keeping the faith, and above all keep merry.
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