Arsenal bounced back on Saturday against Birmingham to lift themselves temporarily up to 2nd, and now 3rd. It's strange to think that we've had quite a sticky patch of late in the league, taking only one point from a possible 9 yet here we are above Man Utd still, albeit on goal difference.
The second thing is the performance in general, and while I only have the extended highlights on Sky to go by, I feel confident in saying that it wasn't a spectacular performance but an efficient and solid one where we made the most of our chances and didn't allow Birmingham to trouble us too much. Jack Wilshere seemed to have a very good game, passing the ball fabulously and setting up the winning goal very well and looked the creative spark we might have missed with Fabregas still not in the team. He did, however, get sent off late on for a late challenge on Nikola Zigic that to be fair, in the modern climate of the game, deserved to be a red card. Which leads to my next point...
Tackling. Yes, the big, revolting "T" word. Danny Murphy opened a huge two litre bottle of worms last week with his comments on tackling and Blackburn, Stoke and Wolves. I have to say I agree with what he said. My view on the subject is that these teams are too focused on making sure they are upsetting the opposition defensively rather than offensively. Too many teams have this view that came from somewhere that tough tackling, hard and ugly football keeps you in the league whereas attacking, attractive football means dieing a terrible death in premier league terms and being relegated. I don't know where it came from but Mick McCarthy, Tony Pulis and Fat Sam all have this view that ugly, "hard but fair" football wins you games and keeps you in the division whereas attractive football loses you games and gets you relegated. Tell that to West Brom, who have just won at Arsenal and drawn at Man Utd amongst getting a load of other points along their way. Also tell it to Wigan who keep managing to stay up despite playing attacking football.
"I don't believe players are going out to break another player's leg but there has to be some logic and intelligence involved."
Overall, the point is that those managers amongst others like Alex McLeish (who is quite lucky to escape without a mention in Murphy's comments) do focus too much on telling their players to get in other players' faces and go in harder on them than they would on other players. For instance, Fabregas getting his face filled with Craig Gardner last March and oh yeah, missing the rest of the season as a result of it. Yet they have the cheek to go mental when its the other way around such as Wilshere tackling Zigic the other day.
"You get managers who are sending their teams out to stop other teams playing, which is happening more and more - the Stokes, Blackburns, Wolves."