I relay those failings so I can tell this story. Yesterday afternoon, when Arsenal vs. Barca was on live, I had work commitments and couldn't watch live. I followed parts of it via Twitter updates when I could but I wasn't even able to follow via a "textcast" stream which would be my usual fallback. Since the game "sounded" amazing via Twitter I figured I'd better watch later on DVR just to see what everyone was so excited about and because, you know, ARSENAL CAME FROM BEHIND TO BEAT BARCA! Fortunately, despite the apparent self-awareness stated in the first paragraph, I tend to DVR big matches in hopes that this will be the time I keep myself from the results. Here's some thoughts from my view-after-the-fact:
- Catch a Rising Star - Wilshere got all the immediate post-match plaudits and they were well deserved but they weren't the most important performances in the long run for Arsenal. What were?
- Catch a Rising Star #2 - Djourou wasn't spectacular but before this season who would have bet that he could even hold his own against Barca's world class attackers. He did. When Arsenal got in trouble, it was predominantly the fault of Clichy and occasionally Eboue but rarely did Djourou look like he was at fault. He was generally calm on the ball as well.
- Catch a Rising Star #3 - Szczesny was very good. Given that the big criticisms of Arsenal have been at the back and in the net, the fact that young players at both positions asserted themselves over the last month and confirmed those performances with strong work on one of the bigger stages they're every likely to see can be seen as nothing but positive for the club.
- The Other Revelation - Koscielny was really good. Certainly we were all pretty uncertain after his awkward tackle and subsequent red card against Liverpool on opening day and some other clumsy performances early in the season. He is by no means Vidic or even as impressive as Luiz was on Monday but he looks to be a well-above-average CB which is pretty important given Arsenal's frailties at that position. If Vermaelen can come back and Arsenal can rotate Verm, Kos, and Djourou in front of Szczesny then you have to think that the future looks pretty bright regardless of the rapidity of Wilshere's progress in midfield.
- The Gap - Now if only Gibbs would stay healthy and we could find out if he is a superior alternative to Clichy who seems like he's decided to skate by on pure physical ability (mostly speed). It certainly doesn't feel like he's learned much "craft" since breaking into the first team. I don't KNOW that Gibbs will be better but I'd sure like to see him with an extended stretch of play so I can develop more of an opinion on the topic.
In any event, we'll be back over the weekend as we find out what impact FA Cup matches and the inevitable injuries and suspensions will have on the next fantasy match week (or when we figure out something else interesting to write).