CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!
No, I actually can’t. Heading into that final minute, watching us duff chance after chance, there was no way it was going to be our day. I said to person I was with at the time, ‘Champions win games in the last minute’, but it was looking bleak, then Monreal goes into a 50/50 with a WWE wrestler who munches him. The freekick is awarded. Ozil steps up, muttering things to himself under his breath. He floats his cross into the box, WELBZ nods it on… THE CROWD GO WILD!
What an absolute moment to savour. So much about that game was magic. I think it was the best game of the season and an absolute showcase for the Premier League.
Leicester were excellent again. There’s no frills to their set up. They sit back, absorb the pressure and then break at speed. They were down for this approach again, but we also had some good weaponry to fight back.
As James pointed out before the game yesterday, getting at their full backs was going to important. Wenger opted for Chamberlain and Alexis to support Bellerin and Monreal. I thought it worked well. A lot of hustle from both wings in the opening 30mins. Chambo was having a powerful show, making clever runs and dropping in some dangerous balls.
We also mixed up play ourselves, quite a few long balls to fire off our own counter attacks, the closest we came to a George Graham opener was a speculative ball to Giroud, but Kasper Schmeichal was out quickest to sweep the ball away.
We had a solid penalty shout when Kante handled a Chambo cross. Refs hate giving handball. Commentators love to say that it was ball to hand. Video evidence would help here.
Petr Cech came to our rescue with a blinding save. Vardy was played in with a peach of a cross, he struck his header hard and low but our man was down quickly to keep the ball out.
Sanchez had a difficult game, he was in the right places but he struggled with his finishing and touch. Prime example of this was the tame shot that came from a sweet one two interchange from Giroud and Chambo. He’d usually bury those, but he duffed it into Morgan. Morgan’s hand to be precise, that was clearly too high.
The breakthrough in the game came from Leicester. In the build up to their counter, Morgan jumped on Ozil’s back and missed the ball, our players thought it was a foul but didn’t play to the whistle. Then Koscielny flew out to defend the ball in our half, missed and wiped out one of their men which he received a booking for. Then Monreal planted his foot, Vardy changed the angle of the ball and fell over the Spaniards leg.
Arsenal fans called it a dive. I really couldn’t agree. Vardy changed the angle of the ball, he would have got there because he’s fast. Also, after the ball angle changed, there was no way he could do anything other than go over Monreal. Stonewall penalty which he finished pretty sweetly.
Big questions were raised going into the second half. Arsenal fans went into meltdown about conspiracies and English players getting away with cheating. My hope at that point was that the boys weren’t feeling that way. Shit happens in big games, the best way to remedy disappointment is to win the game.
The second half started pretty well. Mahrez was busted for trying to gain another penalty from Monreal. Real embarrassing. Then a bit of karma dropped on Leicester, Danny Simpson picked up his second yellow card for a dopey challenge and saw the showers early. I thought it was a bit hard personally, but who cares, right?
The game shifted dramatically. They lost a man which made counter attacking more dangerous and they also had to lose Mahrez for Wasilewski, who is a bit, erm, not great.
Arsenal didn’t fuck about and wait for the 70th minute to make changes, we replaced Coquelin for Theo and went for it. The substitution paid off pretty sharply. A 17 pass move that meandered from one side of the pitch to the other 3 times culminated in Bellerin whipping a cross into Giroud who cushioned his header to Theo who was there for the first time shot into the back of the net. He’s much better when he doesn’t have time to think.
MASSIVE PROPS TO GIROUD
We were back in the game now. A draw would be nice, but for me, it would have represented another micro disappointment and we’ve had far too many of them. We needed a fire result. We needed a momentum moment. Well, it didn’t look like it was coming. Wenger had everyone on, Danny WELBZ even made an appearance.
We huffed and puffed and Aaron Ramsey duffed. It didn’t feel like it was going to be our day. Then Wasilewski made a fatal mistake in a bid to kill the game. He aggressively flew at Monreal and took him out, about 15 yards from their area.
Ozil steps up, whips in a perfect cross, WELBZ connects and sends it past Kasper.
WHAT. A. MOMENT
Character: My big issue this season. Do we have title-winning character? Well, on that performance, sure. We kept on fighting. We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves. We battled until the death. We were rewarded. The thing now is how do we react after that game? Remember beating City, then getting spanked by Southampton by 4 goals the week after? This result means nothing if we don’t build on it.
Monreal: Such a big game from the Spaniard. He is an absolute battler.He conceded a penalty that some thought was unfair, but he didn’t let it affect his performance. Going into a 50/50 with Stone Cold Steve Austin at the death said a lot about him. That foul could be the most important of the season. What a hero.
Chambers: Came on for Koscielny in a tight as game and showed some serious composure There was one moment where he played himself out of some danger like he was Canaldo himself. Great to see that he didn’t fade.
Giroud: Another battling performance from the Frenchman. That cushioned header for Theo was world class. He might not have the pace or the finishing all the time, but he fights hard and he made it happen yesterday.
Ozil and Sanchez: It’s not often we win when those two are off key. Sanchez worked hard but his form really isn’t there at the moment. We need to get him firing as soon as. Ozil was a bit pedestrian at time. I felt like he was a bit mopey at times, drifting quite badly. But, he stepped up when it counted and delivered a world class cross under pressure. That’s why he’s paid the big cash money.
Kante: The guy is a seriously powerful DM. He was great yesterday. Interesting that Wenger knew about him a while back and never made a move, he’d have been a nice asset in our team. I imagine Deschamps will be interested in him this summer as will plenty of Premier League clubs, namely United when Mourinho is there.
The fight: We have some troublesome games coming up. Barca, who could maul us. Man United, who are a little bit bogey away from home. Spurs, in a top of the table crunch match. These three are really important. When you’re pushing for the title, you can’t disgrace yourself at this stage of the season.
BIG MOMENTS ahead for the boys.
What a game though. What a fantastic moment for a stadium that lacks any sort of history. Let’s hope that continues!
Right, see you on the other side.