Smiles Apart

Originally posted 9 May 2011.

As the pass from Lucas was a little far ahead of Glen Johnson, and the ball ran out of play, Johnson looked back at Lucas and smiled, as Lucas was poking his tongue out, in admission of the fact that; “Yeah, I overhit that one…”

That pass was very much the exception tonight.

As we hit five past Fulham this evening, who themselves managed two decent goals, it was noticeable how we were miles and smiles apart from Fulham, and miles and smiles apart from where we were six months ago.

The crisp passing, the confidence, the creativity from making those short, sharp passes and the fact that someone had passed and moved into place to receive a later one, as well as the smiles, were all evident again tonight, as was something else that was not just missing six months ago, but has been missing for much longer.

Arsenal are often accused of  trying to score the perfect goal, and consequently not scoring enough. There have been times in recent years that we have been guilty of the same, but perhaps without the same quality of passing that occurred before the move broke down, as seems to occur with our North London rivals.

It seems that there were times when we just could not score, but one of the reasons for that is that we weren’t always making the opposition commit errors which put us in a position to capitalise.

Goals are now coming for us from, as tennis commentators would say, ‘forced errors’. As with the first goal against Fulham tonight, we broke with Suarez, the ball in was poorly cleared, and Maxi smacked it in. He and Dirk Kuyt have been Johnny-on-the-spot for us and their goals have been coming courtesy of some scintillating pass and move, which if it hasn’t led directly to a goal, has had the opposition all over the place, making mistakes, and we have put away the loose ball.

This is why we are now scoring the threes, fours and fives; we are not just making goals from great play, we are capitalising on the opposition’s failure, by playing in a way that makes us too hot to handle – even if you’re wearing goalie’s gloves!

Raul Meireles had been scoring, but more recently has been solid, if unspectacular, for us in midfield, so let’s hope that his thigh problem is not serious – but it looked like a hamstring, which would almost certainly mean his season is over. That was the only real downer from the game, for us.

Now if Tottenham don’t win against City tomorrow, and we do them at Anfield next Sunday, we can really have something to smile about, as we’ll be more than three points ahead of them, and guaranteed at least 5th – and European Football – and possibly with a game to spare!

What’s more, if City don’t pick-up another three points in their remaining games, then we still have an outside chance of 4th! By beating Spurs and Villa, we would finish with 64 points. Man City currently have 62 points, but with three games to play.

A draw tomorrow then, please!

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