Arsenal are better than the rest but not as good as the best

By Avenell Dave

The Gunners don't make it easy for us, do they?

Against one of the worst sides to face us at home this season, we ended up clinging on until injury time when we finally got daylight between ourselves and our opponents.

Watching the game and looking at the sizeable gap between us and our rivals in fourth, who Arsene Wenger is still wary of, it strikes me that we're in a league of our own.

We're not as good as the Ch*vs or M*nure but we're consistently better than the rest, even though a few stupid results and indifferent displays may suggest the gap is closing.

There was so much to enjoy on Saturday.

Manuel Almunia having a surprisingly competent afternoon.

Manu Eboue showed the sort of form which would seriously make Barca or others sit up and take notice if he managed it every week.

Aaron Ramsey, a couple of errors apart, showed the energy, drive and appetite that should consign Denilson to the Carling Cup squad.

M*nure lost, putting us right back in the mixer, especially as I fully expect them to beat the Ch*vs at OT later on this season.

But there was also much to cause concern.

Views are mixed on Theo Walcott and, if he really is easing himself back to football, it wasn;t as bad a performance as some Addicts suggested to me after the game.

But a few runs into the area and a lack of end product a new Bobby Pires/Marc Overmars does not make, despite the yearning by the English media to hype him up whenever he has less than a stinker.

As the bloke behind me said, give Theo time to think and it's a disaster. I continue to hope that he comes good but you just wonder if he has what it takes.

Against a side whose last win was 13 games ago (against this season's champions-elect!!), we still left ourselves open to chances that a solid defence would not have allowed them.

Kenwyne Jones and Darren Bent would have scored on other days and better sides would have punished us.

Stoke are unbeaten this year and our record since they came up is dreadful - we HAVE to be more solid against them next Saturday.

I also get concerned that players like Tomas Rosicky, who has so much talent, chose to try little flicks and backheels at a time when we held only a one goal lead.

That sort of showboating is all well and good when we've got a two or three goal cushion, but when we're holding on and seeking a second goal, that's not the time to take chances.

Going back to Ramsey, apart from one mistake that led to Jones's one on one - the sort of mistake the Welshman makes often and needs to cut out, he looked such a good player in the making.

Unlike Theo, he has the composure and the awareness of those around him to not rush his decisions and that is crucial in his position.

He always knew when to sit back or push forward and if Arsene Wenger can't see what a better option he is than Denilson, he must see something I and 60,000 Gooners have missed.

Saturday was the first time in months that one of our strikers has scored.

The fact that Nick Bendtner, Eduardo and RvP have all been injured is some excuse, but with two of them injured for large parts of the season, the time is now for Nick to live up to his own self belief.

I don't know if he watches the games he plays in, but his finishing and overall play still needs polishing up.

It's great to have him leading the line, winning the ball and holding it up, which he's improving on, but he has to add goals to his tally.

Still, it's a start and hopefully he'll continue to grow as will the team. A massive two weeks coming up.

Beat Stoke, Burnley and Porto and it all starts to look even rosier.

Come on Addicts, we're still in this.