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Monday, 28 October 2013

This is important

Winning this could be huge

It’s past midnight and I’m not long in from work. However, I wanted to get something on the site after the crucial win at Crystal Palace, and before the visit of Mourinho’s oil barons in the League Cup.
Obviously it turned out to be a hard-fought three points at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Anyone following me on Twitter (@ARSENALDvbrisG) will have known that I was concerned about the outcome right from when they had been hammered 4-1 by Fulham on the preceding Monday. In a logical World the team at the top of the Premier League should have no problems against a side who can’t buy a win. But football is not logical, especially in this country, and that’s part of the attraction of Premier League football around the globe.
The problem we had, for me, and it’s been a problem since the storming display against Napoli, is that we started slowly. I don’t know whether it’s because Wenger is insisting on pairing Flamini and Arteta when they’re both available but the moving or Ramsey out wide to accommodate an extra defensive player in midfield does us no favours. Serge Gnabry should have been starting the game on Saturday with either Flamini or Arteta on the bench. The fact that Flamini picked up an injury, and could now miss the next three or four massive games, is bad news indeed. However, his withdrawal early on did get Gnabry on to the pitch. We didn’t much get going after that slow start, even with the introduction of the young German, but when we did put our foot down shortly before half-time it was Gnabry who was the catalyst – just as he was at Swansea.
We should have had a penalty before the break for a foul on Gnabry. We did get one just after it for a foul on Gnabry. His willingness to commit a defender by running at them puts him in a fairly exclusive club (alongside Wilshere and Chamberlain) in the Arsenal squad. Gnabry is also willing to put in the hard yards defensively and he was there helping out Bacary Sagna (back to his best on Saturday, and putting in some excellent crosses for a change too) on more than one occasion. When Arteta was ridiculously red carded I was astonished to see Gnabry removed from the fray, while Cazorla and Ozil stayed out there (thought Cazorla was taken off shortly after). The physicality of the youngster could well have been missed had we been up against better opponents in that situation. As it was we got away with it and could have had more than Olivier Giroud’s goal late on to show for our efforts. Having said that, had it not been for an imperious display from Wojciech Szczesny we would have been pegged back to 1-1.
In the end it was a big three points. You have to take maximum points against the dross if you’re to win the Premier League. It doesn’t matter how you get them. Idiots like Hansen can sit there on Match Of The Day, or Owen on BT Sport (no new subscriptions will have been sold after people sat through his nonsense for free on Saturday) and find ways to criticise. Ultimately we played not at our best, but came out with the win. I’ll take that every week, thanks very much.
So tomorrow it’s the League Cup and the chance to take on Chelsea Reserves. Of course, Chelsea Reserves would be most Premier League clubs first-team. Arsene will obviously change a lot of players, but having got one or two back from injuries we should be stronger than we were at West Brom.
The problem, for me, lies with our bench tomorrow night. Le Boss is understandably keen for the likes of Ramsey and Giroud to get a breather. However, we are not in a position to go throwing away the chance to win silverware. We simply must have a bench with some players on it that are capable of coming on and making a difference should we go behind. As far as I’m concerned there is a need for the first-choice players who don’t start to be on the bench.
Given that we are top of the Premier League there may be a feeling with some that the League Cup is less important again. As I’ve said, we need a trophy so the  importance of it is clear to me. Aside from this is the fact that Chelsea are the opposition and Wenger’s record against Mourinho is poor. If we could beat them it would lay a ghost to rest. If we get beaten the press will love to trot out how Mourinho is some sort of genius with a hex on Wenger and Arsenal.
Going back to 1988-89 the players went to Anfield in the League Cup around this time of year (possibly slightly earlier, but it’s late at night and I can’t be bothered to look it up). They’d already had a win over Liverpool at home in the Mercantile Credit Centenary Trophy, but the League Cup game was more important in many ways. That night Arsenal outplayed Liverpool in their own stadium for the first time in years. We drew 1-1 with Rocky Rocastle scoring a screamer. We were also cheated out of a late winner from Alan Smith by a dodgy referee. Arsenal would go on to lose that tie in a second replay at Villa Park, but the seed had been sewn for what would follow the next May. I’ve always felt that the players in that squad gained the belief they could compete with Liverpool at the top level that night at Anfield. The fans also knew that we were now on that level where we could beat Liverpool. Tomorrow could be just as important for this current squad, and the supporters, in believing that they are ready to challenge once more. I hope Arsene Wenger can recognise that and selects a team that can do it.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

That makes it a bit difficult

Shouldn't have been on the pitch

We were caught by the classic sucker-punch last night. After a first-half in which we weren’t at the races for the opening 40 minutes we had dominated the game after half-time. Neither side, despite their respective superiority in either half, really created a great deal. That being the case a draw would have been more than fair to both teams. To get ourselves done in the way we did is frustrating, but not especially disheartening.
For some reason Arsenal didn’t get started when the game kicked off. Dortmund were sharper and quicker to the ball. Our midfield seemed especially lacklustre, with the exception of the outstanding Mikel Arteta who really held us together. When we did get the ball the players seemed incapable of putting a pass or two together. Fancy flicks weren’t coming off, which wasn’t surprising in light of Dortmund’s impressive closing down – they were reminiscent of Barcelona in the first-half when not in possession.
I suppose there is no doubt that the sustained Dortmund pressure on the ball was a root cause of their first goal. However, that does not excuse what Aaron Ramsey did to present them with the chance. You might remember that he did exactly the same thing at Marseille, which also cost us a goal. I don’t know what goes through the minds of players in moments like that. Why would you even consider trying to dribble the ball out of your penalty area? I know that Ramsey is full of confidence at the moment but it was just ridiculous play. Rambo’s whole performance last night was poor, and was as bad as any he produced last year when he was struggling. You can’t afford to give a goal start to a top team like Dortmund.
With Arteta playing a one man role in midfield we had Olivier Giroud absolutely dominating Hummels and Subotic up front. Giroud was fantastic again as he won every header (until he was out on his feet with about 15 minutes to go) and chased down what looked like lost causes. It was one of those that finally sparked us in to life as he caused Hummels to dive in and get booked. A few minutes later he chased down again to set up the chance for Rosicky that was cleared off the line. When he finally got his goal it was thoroughly deserved. Giroud is becoming more and more important in this Arsenal side and he has been hugely impressive all season.
The second-half, I felt, was Arsenal’s all the way. We played some decent stuff and the introduction of Cazorla gave us an extra threat. Tomas Rosicky moved central and Ozil wide right. Surprisingly this brought Ozil in to the game for the first time (he was poor on the night). We hit the bar and looked like we were right on top of the game. Then we got caught out while going for the winning goal. Arsene Wenger said we were “na├»ve” and made comment that “if we can’t win the game we must make sure not to lose it”. I couldn’t agree more, but this message was clearly not being conveyed from the bench. Shortly before Dortmund’s winner we had a free-kick on the halfway line. Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna went and stood close to the edge of Dortmund’s penalty area, leaving only Mertesacker and Koscielny back. Given that Arsene feels we should have been a bit more cautious I would have to question why he or Steve Bould were not out on the touchline imploring one of the full-backs to sit back alongside their centre-halves. It’s all very well stating the obvious after the game, but why were the players not being instructed by the bench?
As I said at the top of this piece we were caught out having gone for the big haymaker late on. That’s football sometimes, but it has happened to us fairly frequently. As with Ramsey trying to dribble out from the back, we don’t seem to learn from our mistakes quickly enough and this is to our detriment too often. Having said all of that Lewandowski should not have been on the pitch to score the goal. I had a perfect view of his elbow on Koscielny and it was absolutely blatant. I’ve been told that Ian Wright and Lee Dixon didn’t think it was deliberate, such was their view on the ITV coverage. All I can say is that they were on the other side of the ground and, perhaps, the TV pictures don’t capture the way in which Lewandowski sized up his target. As I said, I had a clear view and it was a definite red card. The referee produced a yellow card so the question needs to be asked why that was. If the officials have seen it then it is a red card. There is no question. What exactly was he booked for? Either the referee should have done nothing or he should have sent off the Dortmund striker. There is no justifiable middle ground. I would also like to see the disallowed goal we had in the second-half again. From my seat I couldn’t see anything, but I’ve not seen anyone making a controversy out of it. I can only assume the referee must have got that one right, but given that he got a great deal wrong on both sides throughout the game I have to be sceptical.
Of course the defeat is disappointing as it ends our really great run. It also puts us under real pressure in the Champions League – the threat of Thursday night football is very real once again. I have no doubt that the press and pundits will point to us losing when we came up against a top side, and all that nonsense. I’m not having any of that, but we must make sure we bounce back on Saturday as we have a crucial spell coming up against the other big clubs, as well as away trips to Dortmund and Napoli. A draw in both games with Dortmund would have been fantastic. Now we definitely have to get something from the trip to Germany. I was reminded late last night, however, that we won in Munich having lost to them at home. A win in Dortmund is far from beyond us, but the return of Flamini and an injection of Walcott pace might be required.
One final thing to mention from last night is the Dortmund fans. I met a number of them as they were arriving at the airport yesterday and they were all fairly confident. They were also very nice people. In the stadium they create possibly the best spectacle you will witness. You could actually spend an entire game just watching the supporters going through their full repertoire. I was annoyed that Arsenal allowed them to bring their drums in to the ground, as they provide the rhythm that gets their songs going in a constant wall of noise. However, it should perhaps be a privilege to be in a stadium and witness their support. There can’t be many groups of fans in Europe who are noisier and more supportive of their team than Borussia Dortmund.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Arsenal visit the land of perfection, Ivan Gazidis gives us big news

Arsene has his perfect goal at last
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal sides have been noted for seeming to seek a footballing utopia. The constant passing, when it gets to the penalty area, is oft-criticised – especially on this site. The pursuit of “the perfect goal” has led to us failing to shoot and, therefore, failing to score on a vast number of occasions. One more pass being made, instead of a clinical finish, was even a feature of the great Wenger sides of the past. On Saturday the search for the perfect goal surely came to an end when Jack Wilshere slotted past John Ruddy in the first-half.
It was nothing other than a privilege to have watched that goal being scored. In years to come it will be shown over and over on DVD’s and the like. I remember seeing Liam Brady’s goal at Tottenham for the first time on the Centenary video and thinking how incredible it was. I know that, when my children and grandchildren are growing up and they get to see Arsenal’s goal (it seems wrong to put it down just to Wilshere as it wasn’t an individual strike like Brady’s) against Norwich, I will be proud to tell them “I was there that day”.
The crowd reaction to the goal was odd. Nobody really reacted to it in the way that you normally would to a magnificent goal. I think many were looking for the offside flag, or just couldn’t quite comprehend that the ball was in the net. Everyone, and I mean everyone, watched the replay on the big screen and the reaction to that from the crowd told you how special a goal it was. I’ve never heard a collective gasp of wonder from people like that before. The applause after the action replay was longer than that given to the goal itself. It was simply unbelievable.
If Keats or some of the other great poets were around today then I reckon they could pen a modern classic on the beauty of that goal scored by this Arsenal team. It was genuinely worth the money to get in just to be witness to the most sublime piece of football I’ve ever seen. I’ve been lucky to see plenty of great goals in the flesh at Arsenal. They’ve come in many guises, from great individual goals to brilliant passing moves. For me, however, the goal that Jack put the finishing touch to on Saturday is the best I’ve ever seen. My all time favourite goal was Marco Van Basten in the Euro 88 Final for Holland against Russia. I think Arsenal on Saturday might have beaten it.
As for the rest of the game a 4-1 win did not reflect Arsenal’s play, at least until the final 15 minutes. We were lethargic and lacklustre in midfield. Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny were outstanding, and Szczesny made a crucial save late in the first-half. Olivier Giroud was sensational up front yet again, but Norwich were able to be right in the game because we sat off them in midfield. The injury to Flamini threw Arsenal completely as there was nobody barking out the orders. At one point we had eight players in a straight line across the edge of our own 18 yard box. That’s bad enough in isolation, but when you consider the ball was with Norwich’s centre-back at the time that makes it worse. We will have to be so much sharper against Dortmund tomorrow.
In the closing stages (after Norwich scored, actually) we finally got it together. Aaron Ramsey suddenly came to life, while Rosicky and Bendtner did their bit from the bench. Ruddy suddenly was keeping Norwich alive. When Ramsey twisted and turned and scored you could feel the relief. What a goal that was too. It reminded me a little of Henry’s goal at home to Liverpool in the Invincible season, such were the numbers of defenders sitting on their backsides as the ball hit the net. It was like a scene from a war film or something with bodies strewn everywhere.
Ultimately we saw four magnificent Arsenal goals against Norwich, and a 4-1 win. However, it was far from comfortable on the day. The scoreline was a little flattering, but we can happy with it all the same. What I don’t like is the people saying how great we were on Saturday and starting to get carried away. The fact is that we weren’t very good for 75 minutes. We got through it because our confidence is sky high and we have some real quality in the team now, but play like that against a good side (like tomorrow night, for example) and we will get hammered. I hope the players realise that.
Last year I wrote that Arsenal’s players were to return to club suits this season at the request of Thomas Vermaelen. The eagle-eyed will have noticed that this hasn’t happened. It was certainly picked up by an author writing in the latest Gooner fanzine who mentions my post last year and laments the tracksuits and out-sized headphones that still dominate the arrival of the players. It is at great odds with Bob Wilson’s voiceover, played on the screens before every home game, where he talks of the pride of wearing “that great big gun on your chest”. It was pleasing to know that there are others who are annoyed.
On Saturday Ivan Gazidis informed the Supporters Forum that the suits are indeed coming back, and the players should be in them next month. He claims the delay has been due to consulting the Inland Revenue as the size of the logo on what is, effectively, a uniform can affect the tax that needs to be paid etc. You can take or leave that as an excuse as you see fit, but the fact is that the suits are coming back. Arsenal’s players will once again finally exude a bit of class off the pitch. That is enough to make me glad today.
I’m off now to watch that goal again. More on Wednesday, post-Dortmund.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Why I think Santi is on his way out, Norwich City (h) preview

Writing on the wall for Cazorla?

Regular readers will know that, while more than willing to praise Santi Cazorla's significant contribution last season, I was also quick to point out his inconsistent form. As brilliant as the little Spaniard was in a lot of matches he was also anonymous at least 50% of the time. For me there was a bit of "Arshavin" about Cazorla at times. When he was at it there was little stopping Santi, but it wasn't enough for me. We were made fully aware of Cazorla's quality in his debut at home to Sunderland with an exquisite through ball that Giroud failed to convert. Like I say, Cazorla could be outstanding, and he was the only candidate for many as Arsenal's player of last season. Going in to this term he was set to be our key player again. However, we should all have been wary of the fact that, when it comes to playing for Spain, he is the understudy to Fabregas, who is also an understudy himself to Iniesta. The signing of Mesut Ozil means he is, effectively, now an understudy at Arsenal. I imagine there will be one or two reading this who are saying "the bloke writing this is a clueless t****r" or words to that effect. I would ask you to bear with me here, while I explain.
Obviously Cazorla and Ozil can play in the same side at Arsenal, with one of them moving out to the wing. Given that Ozil is the best in the World in the "number 10" role we can safely assume that he will not be the one shifting wide. Santi, meanwhile, has been ineffective in the extreme when he has played wide for Arsenal. He is at his considerable best when playing in his preferred role behind the striker. With the best will in the World, he is only going to play there for Arsenal when Ozil is injured or rested. Given how he largely fails to influence play from the wing you would have to think that a fit Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain actually offer more to the side. Again, I don't see how Santi gets a regular game there without unbalancing the side. Even if Arsene Wenger does decide to put him out there as his first-choice it is simply not the role Cazorla wants. Having been the main man last year he will now find that he has been replaced by Ozil who, when all is said and done, is a better player than Cazorla. I can't see Santi sticking around for the best years of his career only to be second choice in the area he wants to play.
There is one more thing that, if I was Santi Cazorla, would have me worried about my Arsenal future and that is the phrase used yesterday by Arsene Wenger. Le Boss has stated that Santi needs to get "match-fit". I've said many times before that as soon as Arsene starts talking about a player and their (lack of) match-fitness that the writing is on the wall. The first to suffer was Stephen Hughes many years ago. Plenty have had the treatment since, and it has always meant that Wenger no longer fancies the player and the exit door is swinging open. I'm sure plenty will be thinking I'm talking nonsense as every player must be "match-fit" and all that. However, consider Thomas Vermaelen and Tomas Rosicky, in this season alone. Both of them had been out far longer than Cazorla yet there was no mention of them needing to get match-fitness. They both went straight back in to the squad and played immediately - Rosicky has done it year after year, as has Abou Diaby. Like I say, if I was Cazorla I'd be thinking about what the future holds.
So it's back to real football tomorrow with the visit of Norwich. Having said all that I have above about Santi Cazorla I fully expect him to be involved in the game tomorrow, quite possibly from the start. My personal preference would be for a midfield five of Flamini and Ramsey, with Cazorla and Gnabry out wide and Ozil behind the front man. I don't see any point in Arteta partnering Flamini in a game where we are expected to win and should be playing on the front foot from the off. This would also allow Aaron Ramsey to get back in the centre where he should be. Cazorla, for all that he usually fails to affect things from the wing, would be a better option than Wilshere on the left as he is more adept at staying wide and stretching the opposition defence. Everyone else on the pitch, barring injury, surely picks themselves, I think.
We struggled to break down an obdurate Norwich last season at our place. We brought on Podolski and Chamberlain from the bench and they turned the match completely in a 3-1 win. I didn't like the way Norwich played that day with a lot of cynical stuff going on, and not much football being played. Grant Holt was particularly keen with his pointy elbows as I remember (though unpunished until injury-time) and it was not the way I'd seen Norwich go about their business before that. They've not had a great start to the season, and have really struggled to score goals. I fully expect spoiling tactics tomorrow so Arsenal might have to be patient. Hopefully we can get started well and put Norwich under real pressure. An early goal or two would do very nicely.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Wilshere typical of English footballers, The Corporal comes in tomorrow

Stupid boy

Jack Wilshere’s claim that he was just holding a cigarette as part of a prank is among the most ludicrous excuses I’ve ever heard. I thought that only 16 year-olds said “I’m holding it for someone else” the first time they were caught with a fag by their parents. And what kind of “prank” was being pulled exactly? Who was he trying to wind up? Is he claiming that he knew the photographer was there and thought this would be a bit of a jape? And, if you’re just “holding” a cigarette I’m not sure you actually need to start putting it in your mouth and start taking a long drag on it. The fact is that Jack has been caught out doing something he shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t be surprised, but that makes it no less disappointing.
I’m not surprised that Arsene Wenger is upset. Le Boss is notoriously keen for his players to lead a healthy lifestyle. To see one of his young stars, developed through the Arsenal Academy, standing outside some club with a cigarette must be really annoying for him. I’ve read people defending Jack saying that the odd fag doesn’t do him any harm, and that William Gallas was a smoker and a multitude of other nonsense. The fact is that any smoking is bad for you, especially if you’re a professional athlete of any kind. I don’t care that William Gallas smoked. I didn’t like William Gallas when he played for Arsenal, so I’m certainly not going to accept his personal habits as a reason for Wilshere to be excused. There is simply no excuse for a professional footballer to be smoking in this day and age. I hope Arsene throws the book at him.
Jack himself clearly sees little wrong in what he has been up to and his Twitter reaction to the controversy was foolish, at best. Rather than issuing a grovelling apology of some sort he chose to Tweet a picture of Zinedine Zidane smoking. The inference is clearly one of “If one of the best players ever can smoke, then so can I.” He followed it up with a Tweet saying “…I don’t smoke!” The evidence to the contrary was in the newspaper yesterday. I’m annoyed that Jack Wilshere should choose to not just accept he is in the wrong over this. Sadly he is heading down the path of a number of talented English footballers at the moment who don’t seem to realise how good they’ve got it. He needs to be taken in hand quickly. Jack is too good to waste his talent on being an arrogant t****r, and I hope someone at Arsenal is pointing out the pitfalls of this right now. Who you are, what you are, and whom you represent.
The team news tomorrow is that Carl Jenkinson is coming in for Bacary Sagna. This does not surprise me in the slightest. At half-time on Tuesday Jenkinson did a proper warm-up and was spoken too by one of the back-room staff. He proceeded to remove his tracksuit and was ready to come on for the second-half, only for Sagna to appear from the tunnel. Someone else spoke to Jenkinson and he put his tracksuit back on but continued staying loose throughout the remainder of the game. Sagna is now out for three weeks, though he showed no real effects of any injury during the match. Whatever the hamstring issue he now has it was probably aggravated by playing through the pain against Napoli. Hopefully, while he’s out for a while, he will have time for Arsenal to get his new contract sorted out.
Not much else will change in the side I would think. We might see Arsene make a point to the press and bring Jack Wilshere back in, despite the business I’ve written about above. If Jack does play then I can see him having a stormer as he should be right up for sticking it to the press after the way they’ve gone after him this week. Having been set up as the saviour of the England national team it was no surprise to see the knives out this week – that’s how the media works in this country for some reason. We all know how good Jack is, but he doesn’t need the papers making out he’s the one to win England everything over the next ten years. He might just be the one to win Arsenal a point or three tomorrow, however.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A sense of belief

This lot are getting a response from us lot

It was a truly brilliant display from Arsenal on Tuesday evening against Napoli. We'd been told by certain pundits throughout our recent run that we hadn't had to beat any top teams. Of course, that's a nonsense argument - you can only beat what's in front of you and Arsenal have been doing that ever since we lost to Villa on day one. However, if you were the sort of person to go along with the rubbish in the media then after Tuesday there could be no more argument. We were playing against the team who beat last years runners-up in the European Cup a fortnight ago. We were playing against a team that is riding high in Serie A. We were playing against a team who had poached Gonzalo Higuain from right under our noses. In this group of death Napoli were to be feared. For Arsenal to go out on the pitch and simply blow them away with some, at times, breathtaking attacking football was a real sign that things are looking up. I've read one or two who have said that Napoli played poorly, but that's nonsense. The fact is that Arsenal's quality did not allow Napoli to play. To denigrate Arsenal any further at this stage is cretinous.
I was a bit surprised at Arsene Wenger's strangely unguarded reaction to questions about Mesut Ozil's overall performance on Tuesday. As well as Ozil played I thought Wenger was over-effusive in his assessment. Ozil didn't run the game in the way that Dennis Bergkamp or Thierry Henry or Patrick Vieira had for us in the recent past. Ozil was a very important part of the machine the other night, obviously, as you could clearly see by his goal and the way he set up the second for Giroud. But I don't quite go along with Arsene's comments (though I loved his reaction to Ozil's goal). As I say, it was unusual for Wenger to go overboard like that on an individual. My brother suggested after the game that it was maybe an attempt by Wenger to get opponents to pay too much attention to Ozil, thus allowing space for others to flourish. Personally I'm not sure. One more line on Ozil is that the TV pictures do not do justice to the quality of the goal he scored. Quite apart from not really being able to appreciate the contribution of Giroud, or the well weighted pass from Ramsey, the finish was among the most spectacular you will ever see. Honestly, if you weren't in the stadium I really don't think you know how good it was.
For me, Olivier Giroud was the key man the other night. It was the complete centre-forward performance. Giroud showed pace, power, skill, touch, movement and finishing on the night. Napoli's central defenders had no answer and the only time they "beat" him in the air was when they stuck their forearm or elbow in the back of his neck. I still believe he might not be the answer in terms of scoring 30 goals a season, but Giroud is playing so well at the moment that he is rivalling Ramsey, Sagna and Gibbs as our best players so far this season in my opinion.
The nature of the performance on Tuesday created a wonderful atmosphere in the stadium. Put together with the winning run you feel there is a huge sense of belief and optimism in the supporters at the moment. It's a feeling I've not had for at least five or six years, probably since the year Eduardo had his leg broken (the feeling evaporated that day). I've long believed that atmosphere in the stands is created by performance on the pitch. The long and loud singing of the old Highbury back-and-forth between the stands was great (though I noticed the Red Action section were not impressed and tried to drown out those songs by sparking up something different, something of which they should be ashamed). In it's own way it was the best night and best atmosphere we've had since moving down the road, and that is down to the players and the results they've produced. Maybe Tuesday will prove to be the highlight and things will drop away slightly both on and off the pitch, but credit should go to this squad (and that's what they are) for the way they've got us dreaming, even just a little bit, that things are on the up again.
There is an intangible feeling right now that you can't describe, but it's the feeling that comes with winning games and properly going after trophies. Ozil's signing no doubt has lifted everyone of us, both players and supporters, and that bounce effect might yet carry us deep in to the Premier League season.