Things were different yesterday as I made my way in the glorious sunshine towards the ground; normally, I feel quite benevolent towards the supporters of teams from the lower divisions, in the early rounds in the FA cup, on their big day out at the Emirates. I remember the third round when thousands of Plymouth supporters, covered in the green and white of their club, some wearing those ridiculous court jester hats with bells on each end, making their way down the Holloway road. There was a calm innocence about them; the image of lambs to the slaughter came to mind. But yesterday was different; Burnley fans in their claret and blue had a touch too much arrogance about them; provocatively reminding us at the top of their voices that they had knocked us out of the Carling Cup earlier in the season. This lot needed to be brought down a peg or two.
Wenger made it clear in his midweek press conference that he intended to field a strong side; although, when the team was read out it became apparent that it had not only been chosen with one eye on the game against Roma, both eyes were firmly locked onto it. That’s not to suggest that safe passage through to the next round of the FA Cup wasn’t important to him; I am sure Wenger is well aware, that by being through, it ensures that our season will still be alive if it all goes Alex Song in Rome.
The first half was slow, disjointed, it seemed like a team of strangers, playing for the first time, had taken to the field. The only good thing was the audacious chip (Peaches) by Vela; how could anyone produce a cooler left foot finish?
Enter Eduardo, the only person capable of answering that question with the words “Very easily”. Ohh, I love that goal, already it is “that goal” I don’t even have to say Eduardo’s goal. How cool was that? The coolest goal of the season without a doubt.
With thirty minutes to go Van Persie swaggered on to join our Crozilian and we got a tantalising glimpse, for the first time this season, of our most potent strike force. Then it was Theo’s turn to take the applause; once the ball is under control and he presses the turbo button, there ain’t no one goin to catch him.
And just when you thought you had seen everything, Song sent a beautifully weighted back heal to the on coming Eboue who rifled it along the ground into the corner to make it 3-0.
Burnley had been put firmly back in their place and the natural order of things had been restored.
Fabianski: commanding, not a word I have used to describe our future number one goal keeper before but the more I see him, the more I feel justified it using it. 7
Sagna: this man has teams like Burnley for breakfast, so solid defensively. 7
Gallas: I like to think that he was saving himself for the Roma game: not the best day at the office but a clean sheet is a clean sheet. 6
Djourou: I have no doubt that this man is going to be one of the great defenders of his time. We are lucky to have someone who is prepared to patiently wait for first team football. 6
Gibbs: one of the things I enjoy the most is to realise that I was wrong about a player and Gibbs is one of those. I had written him, along with Randal, off after Burnley away. I still feel the same way about Randal but Gibbs is climbing in my estimation with ever game; his confidence of is not just growing, it’s exploding; he never made a single mistake today, not one pass went astray. 7
Alexander Song: You can never be sure which Alex Song is going to turn up: would it be the cartoon character that played at West Brom or would it be the hero who held our depleted midfield together for seventy minutes against Tottenham? Fortunately, today, the later brought his boots and put in a first class performance, not to forget his two assists. 7
Diaby: it’s a shame he wasn’t injured today but available for Roma, you know how he always plays a blinder the first game back from injury. His positional play in the first half was school boy, when the defence had the ball he was standing next to Eduardo in the attack. I suspect that he was told at half time that his job was to be in midfield and link the defence with the attack. 5
Arshavin: There is a touch of the Bergkamp about Arshavin; I realise that it is far too early to compare the two, what I mean is that Arshavin has a similar kind of magic about him: you never know what he is going to do with the ball. 6
Vela: I liken this man to a finely tuned engine if you don’t use it regularly it doesn’t work as well. Wenger took him for a spin today and the engine purred. There are some of us who believe that he should have kept running after his success in the Carling Cup: 6
Eduardo: If Messi had scored that goal today it would be on every channel throughout the sporting world. This man hasn’t lost any of his goal scoring prowess, still a tad sluggish, perhaps that’s a bit harsh. 8
Eboue: still gave the ball away too many times for my liking. On a positive note, he took his goal well, which should do wonders for his confidence. 5
Written by London…