Power post time. It was great to be back in the mix yesterday. Cold weather, relentless blanket of thick rain, hanging with my Arsenal fam at the S&B ready for a bitch about how we’ve messed it up. Truly, nothing makes me miss London more.
So what about the game? Well, overall, how can you not be kind of turned on about beating out a Sam Allardyce team with goal of the season, no CENTURY? A total moment of magic made a pretty standard win something a touch more epic. Perez wins possession and plays in Bellerin. Giroud lays a back heel to Xhaka. Iwobes finds Alexis. Alexis picks up the pass on the left wing. Giroud makes a run, the cross is floated slightly behind the said run, Oliver changes his angles and used the back of his ankle to guide the ball bar and in. LIKE A SCORPIAN IMITATING A MAJESTIC FRESH WATER SALMON. Such beauty. Such class. Good of Olivier to admit it was quite lucky after, but hey, as lucky as hitting a screamer from 30 yards. Wondrous moment. Up there with Bergkamp vs Newcastle.
We bossed most of the game bar a worrying 10mins or so when they tested Cech a few times. Iwobi settled the game after landing a start at 10. He nodded over Hennesey in a goal mouth scramble type of goal. A very solid 3 points that keeps us within a bad Chelsea run of the title.
Things I liked:
We dominated yesterday but turned that into end product. We controlled the passing as you’d expect with 541 compared to their 258, what I enjoyed were the attempts at goal, we had 22 with 7 on target. A good return considering our shyness in front of goal earlier on in the season. An even better return when you think of how many changes we made to the starting 11.
I can’t for the life of me work Wenger out. The sort of rotation we saw yesterday should have been present before our big games vs City / Everton. What was clear yesterday is we have the squad to cope with shit teams like Palace. We need to take warmth from that game and do the same when the pressure is on. Could that team have beaten Basel away? Yes. Could it have beaten Ludogorets away? Yes. So why didn’t we use it?
Perez looked handy if not a touch rusty. He’s a hustler, pretty efficient on the ball and he’s a threat in front of goal. Iwobi, whilst occasionally looking like a fish up a tree, put in a solid. He let the ball move across the front line freely, he had a 90% pass completion rate and he landed a goal. He also created 5 chances. Sure it was Palace, but those are the games he should be cutting his teeth in. He’s taken some stick recently, fairly too, but he’s a very good player. No Ozil obviously, but potential to find his own niche. I also thought Elneney had a good game, quietly going about the grunt work, freeing up Xhaka to spray the ball around like a garden sprinkler.
You’re all thinking it, but surely Aaron Ramsey is in bad shape with Arsene? For us to opt for Xhaka and Elneney against a team who had nothing to give tells you a lot about the trust black hole Rambo has found himself in. Aaron is a fine midfielder when he lands a chance, he can run with the ball, pass, shoot and cover ground like and action man. But no start again? A man going to AFCON preferred? Given 15mins at the end? Doesn’t make sense. But the writing is on the wall unless we pick up an injury or the manager has a massive change of heart in the next few months.
Not sure what Wenger thinks here. Game is tied up and he leaves Sanchez on for the full 90. People say it’s because Sanchez wants to stay on, I say fuck him. It’s the managers job to manage his minutes. Will anyone care what Alexis thinks when we lose him for 3months with a ruptured something? They won’t. Why doesn’t Wenger take him out of games that are over against teams that will take joy out of breaking someone if points aren’t on the card? Even if it’s not an injury, there’s no way these minutes aren’t impacting freshness points later on in the season.
Also odd that he’d take a player off who is going to AFCON rather than an important player who is staying here? Not that the subs didn’t shake things up and give us a nice edge in the last 15, just didn’t feel thought through with the bigger picture in mind.
The bits you don’t get watching the game in bed in the US. Ramsey made a horrendous decision where he either tried to shoot or do something stupid with a pass, anyway, Sanchez was on and when he didn’t get it the scream of frustration was so loud we could hear it. Sure he’s an amazing player, but ‘Thierry in his last year’ levels of aggression aren’t cool when you’re the leading lady in an ok film. I really do worry that part of the ‘PLAY HIM ALL THE MINUTES’ is down to the manager not wanting to upset negotiations which look like they’re going badly. I hope not, but body language doesn’t look great. Maybe just a frustrating day, or maybe reality biting that the green grass of Arsenal is only good for getting fat on.
A good three points, puts us Closer to City and keeps us in the mix with a Liverpool who are starting to a look like title contenders. Also, don’t forget Spurs… quietly going about their business again. All very exciting
See you in the comments!