The Pleasures of Being at Home

When the Emirates officially opened for Premier League competition, our opponents were a brittle Aston Villa side. They were managed by the same person who is now spearheading their march into a top four place. They’ve come a long way admittedly, but they laid out a basic blueprint for how to play when you have zero ambition to win a game and settle for a point.

To their luck, they managed to snatch a goal with one of our few defensive lapses in the match. The rest of the match, we laid siege on their goalmouth, usually centrally, but we failed to pry them open until very late in the match.

The moment of inspiration came from substitute Theo Walcott, finally seeing his first meaningful action for Arsenal FC, never having actually worn the beautiful red currant kit he posed with when he signed with us. He provided a wide option, crossed a ball which was flicked on by van Persie, and ultimately lashed into the back of the net by Gilberto Silva.

Relief came, but it was only a signal of times to come. That first year, we logged way too many home draws, primarily because of this vary tactic. It worked so well that a lot of teams failed to deviate from it.

The next year, a variety of play was developed by us. Lambasted by the media for not having a Plan B, we showed more ways of scoring goals. Whether it was by the aerial prowess of Adebayor, the skill of van Persie, the midfield drive of Cesc, or the calm finishing of Eduardo, we were getting it done.

Tomorrow, we’ll face a team that will probably use the exact same methods that Villa tried in the first competitive Premier League match at the Emirates. They may utilize Djibril Cisse as an outlet to launch a few counters, but that’s as far as their ambition may go.

An option such as Carlos Vela on the left flank or Arshavin’s vision may be required to break them down, but we’ve shown that with these kinds of fixtures, we will eventually create a chance that will be enough to win us the game. The acclimatization period is over for us, it’s time to start getting the results.

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