The way I see it - Arsenal v AZ Alkmaar

Last updated : 03 November 2009 By Jason Hogan

What was the best aspect of our victory against the Scum on Saturday? Was it:

a) Extending our unbeaten run in the league against them to 20 games

b) Gaining victory and a clean sheet

c) The fact that a 3-0 win flattered them more than it did us

d) Arsene Wenger racking up his 1,000th Premier League point

e) The fact that Robbie Keane has been exposed well and truly as the dumbest human being (with the exception of Marlon King) on the planet.

f) Dear Old 'Arry slumped in his seat looking like a bulldog who had just downed a pint of caster oil

g) All of the above

In truth, there are more options I could have added into the above question if I wanted to and, like all the options above, they would all be reasons to be cheerful if you're an Arsenal fan. Still, if this was a question put to me I would actually say that NONE of the above would be my answer.

Don't misunderstand me here; whilst all the above points are valid enough reasons for any Arsenal fan to celebrate (and I wasted no time in doing that on Saturday that's for sure) they are nevertheless just points of schadenfreude. It's the wider aspects of the win that mean more to me.

Lest we forget, Arsenal started the season as THE prime candidates to drop out of the top four. Some people at the time were even claiming that there wasn't even a big four anymore but a big three of which Arsenal were not members.

At the same time, people were talking up the likes of Man City, Aston Villa and the Scum as genuine contenders to replace us. So in a way, our win on Saturday was not just about keeping hold of local bragging rights and not just about slapping down a club that spent so much time talking the talk and failing to walk the walk yet again. It was also about us sending a message to them and the rest of the pretenders that Arsenal are not going to be pushed aside as easily and as readily as many people think.

Moreover, the self esteem and self respect of everyone associated with the club - fans like me, the players, the manager and the even the biggest stuffed shirt in the Arsenal boardroom, has been reinforced. And I say that not just because of Saturday's result but with a view to looking forward.

Rivalries are all well and good but they are seldom a factor when it comes to winning trophies. Every time you open a newspaper and read an article about Arsenal, it is guaranteed to be accompanied somewhere along the line with a reference to the fact that we haven't won anything since 2005.

Now I know it's asking far too much of the press to write about us with a degree of intelligence, objectivity and intellect but if we are going to put a stop to them holding that up that lazy, cheap dig against us, then we need to carry on picking up all the self esteem we can get.

Because, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, it's our OWN desire, our OWN belief and our OWN willingness to stay faithful to the type of game we wish to play that will decide whether we end our barren spell this season or not.

This, for me, is why the win on Saturday was not only highly enjoyable but also most important. We went into a game which had a lot of exposure surrounding it, knowing full well what the media fallout would have been had we failed.

The fact that we rose to the occasion, embraced rather than shrunk away from the challenge, ended up reaping the redemption I personally craved after the fiasco against West Ham and won emphatically was of huge credit to the Arsenal lads. If only every day could be like last Saturday.

Now it's time for me to look forward to the Champions League game against AZ Alkmaar at The Grove.

There are times when you don't get what you deserve in football but to be fair, when we played this lot over in Holland, I thought we got exactly what we deserved. It was a night when we tried to coast through to victory and do just enough but we paid for our lack of diligence by conceding a very late equaliser.

I used to listen avidly to the now defunct Capital Gold Sport show on the radio back in the day. And one of Jonathan Pearce's regular co-commentators was Tony Gale. I liked Galey as a summariser then and I still like him now as a pundit.

One of his catchphrases was "never give a sucker an even break" and it's a phrase that has always stuck firmly in my mind. We were guilty of doing just that against a side that were fairly limited but nonetheless plucky. AZ deserved their point in the end simply because they kept plugging away and never ever looked like caving in to us.

The fact was we were not professional enough as a team to get what we wanted. We know we should have won the game but of course we didn't. Is Wednesday night about revenge? You could say so. I just hope that we show the same kind of professionalism and ruthlessness we demonstrated on Saturday.

If we do that, then I will be amazed if things went too far wrong for us from there.