It was one of those days for Arsenal fans worldwide. We know how our the club plays their games. One minute, they play so well and win big. Next minute, they play badly and lose terribly. We know Arsenal’s playing style by now. We know they are consistently inconsistent and unpredictable. You hope they win but they don’t. When you least expect them to win, yet somehow they do.
And that was exactly what happened.
On Boxing Day, they lost so badly to Southampton (4-0) when they should have won. They conceded four goals (quite a hefty sum even for Petr Cech) and scored none. What happened to the team that played so well just a month or two ago, we will never know. If they won, they would have been sitting pretty on top of the Premier League now.
And then they did it anyway against Bournemouth. They won 2-0 against the Cherries. I wanted a victory on December 26 but it was not meant to be. And I thought, alright, I’m not going to expect anything from them this time. Guess what? They won.
Mesut Ozil inspired Arsenal to banishing the Boxing Day blues by single-handedly winning the three points against Bournemouth. Ozil increased his tally of assists with a nicely-taken corner which Gabriel Paulista met with a driving header past Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Paulista reeled away in delight, running and screaming with frenzy, and hugged his teammates. For a split second, Olivier Giroud looked disappointed to me as he must have thought the ball was there for him to add to his goal tally.
The second goal was Ozil’s, and Ozil’s alone. After a neat one-two with Giroud, Ozil made it 2-0 by slotting the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs. They held on until the full-time whistle and that was enough to guarantee the top spot for the Gunners, with a point ahead of Leicester City whose game is not until early Tuesday morning.
It was a game of firsts for the Gunners. Gabriel Paulista scored his first ever goal in English football (no wonder he looked emotional and was about to cry as he hugged his teammates), while Petr Cech broke the Premier League record for keeping the most number of clean sheets, and making a new one with 170 clean sheets. If only Arsenal had played the way they should be playing, they would have been top this season, and by no means, be heading for the trophy for the first time since they last won it in 2004.