In spite of a below par performance that was so far from our scintillating best, (especially after the League Cup debacle at Hillsborough), it was vital to get back on the horse in a manner that’ll be perceived as being emphatic.
With a midweek trip to Munich and a North London derby to come next weekend, we badly needed to demonstrate to our opponents that this Arsenal side hasn’t been significantly disadvantaged by the raft of recent injuries, with a triumph that can continue to cement the “bring it on” ring of confidence within the camp.
With Sheffield Wednesday having suffered in the football wilderness for so long, their sell-out crowd was positively bristling with anticipation in advance of experiencing having the big time back at Hillsborough. As it turned out, I wasn’t too disappointed about missing out on another trip to Stoke and knowing it would mean so much more to the long-suffering Wednesday fans, I didn’t mind throwing them the bone of a cup quarter-final outing.
However, after a long schlep to Sheffield, I wasn’t feeling nearly so charitable about exiting the Mickey Mouse competition in quite such an ignominious fashion.
And I was left fuming about seeing first the Ox and then Theo succumb to particularly badly-timed injuries that could derail our campaign, just as it’s beginning to gather momentum.
From experience, we’ve gleaned a rule of thumb that one can conservatively double Arsène’s estimates about our players’ recuperation. Eternal pessimist that I am, I won’t be at all surprised if Walcott returns in December, just in time to suffer another knock that will rule him out for the hectic festive schedule!
So when Giroud hit the deck on Saturday, you could sense every Gooner behind the goal at the Liberty collectively holding our breath, as our drama-queen writhed around, clutching his knee, with us only exhaling in unison, when much to our relief our solitary remaining fit centre-forward returned to the fray.
Having readily admitted that the youngsters who turned out in Sheffield are patently not yet up to the first-team job, there will be plenty of time for recriminations, if and when le Prof is forced to throw our teenage Christians to the Premiership (or heaven forfend, Champions League!) lions.
Meanwhile, if he’s drinking in the last chance saloon, can 23-year-old Joel Campbell finally blow the doors off?
Having struggled to reproduce his World Cup feats in red and white, hopefully Saturday’s goal might serve as a confidence booster, but so long as he continues to put in such a hungry shift, you won’t hear me moaning.
Alexis hardly showed the benefits of his midweek break. Our Duracell Bunny was strangely off the boil on Saturday. We commenced this encounter in such a comatose fashion that we couldn’t really have complained to be going in a goal, or two behind at halftime. Where we might’ve been likely to drop points at Swansea in the past, it was perhaps significant to convert this game into such a convincing looking win.
As determined as I am to avoid getting too carried away with all the white noise from the media about our title prospects, there were perhaps a couple of telling signs on Saturday.
Gomis had time to light and smoke a cigar, before rounding Petr Cech, but this was just the sort of one-on-one confrontation that Petr will often win on reputation alone, by contrast to the myriad of less illustrious goal-minders from the past decade or more.
Then there was a worrying moment when Bellerin slammed into the goal-post in the second-half.
Hector was far too committed to keeping the ball out of the back of the net, to be distracted by the possibility that the Swans effort on goal was about to be ruled offside.
It’s the sight of a Gunner risking life and limb in such a totally focused fashion that truly excites me.
Hopefully it’s indicative of the essential “they shall not pass” team spirit that is invariably the sort of “men from the boys” marker, to distinguish genuine winners from the also-rans?
Only time will tell.
But one thing’s for sure, we’re guaranteed more thrilling entertainment in the process.