Marseille 0 Arsenal 1
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One-nil. It has a special resonance; ‘One-nil to the Arsenal’ sounds even better. Winning by the narrowest, meanest margin provides food for the soul. It is proof that you are capable of going on your travels and do literally just enough to claim victory.
The win over Marseille certainly qualified as doing just enough. Neither team covered themselves in glory in what was a dull game which we nicked in injury time.
But dull is exactly what this team needs at the minute. Looking generally solid at the back, keeping clean sheets and grinding victories out will offer far more of a long-term confidence boost than hammering somebody by four or five.
This sort of win has been conspicuous by its absence throughout Wenger’s reign and none more so than the past couple of years.
Our last 1-0 away win came on September 26, 2009, at Fulham which equates to (by my swift calculations) 59 games. By way of comparison, over the same period Chelsea won 1-0 away twice, Spurs three times and Man Utd six times.
Admittedly, you can argue that we’ve done better than them by winning 2-0 or even 3-0 away when those three have earned victory with only a single goal. But I’d maintain that nothing gives the same psychological nourishment as 1-0.
If we are to achieve anything this season it is performances like these that we’ll have to rely on, at least over the next few months. It came after a similarly hard-earned win against Sunderland on Sunday. We need to keep the momentum going and be happy with a reputation for being conservative.