Brighton butchered, but not entirely eaten

by & filed under News Review.

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I’m trying to live in the moment these days. Take the wins where you can, enjoy them, and don’t think too ‘big picture.’ Brighton was one of those ‘enjoy the moment’ games. Chris Hughton’s newly promoted team were never going to be much of a match on paper, but Arsenal has a habit of shocking you, PLUS I was especially wary after a Thursday night away game at the mighty Bate Borisov.

I shouldn’t have been. Arsenal dominated proceedings from the opening minute. The snap half-volley from Lacazette that rocked off the upright set the tone early on in a game that was almost too comfortable. We doubled their passing number, rocking 717. Peppered their goal with 25 attempts. Played the 90 almost like a training ground side note. Brighton were truly taught a lesson in class.

There were concerns despite the rout. Aaron Ramsey makes very exciting runs, helps us transition at speed, and always wants to be in the mix in the final third, but I can’t help but worry he’s starting to play for the glory a little. He doesn’t need to bomb forward at every attempt, and his runs often left us exposed when Brighton did manage to muster more than three passes on the counter. My hope is that we’ll see more of the CFC Aaron when we play better sides, my concern is that he only controlled himself in that game because he was feeling his way back into football.

The finishing was also pretty pony. Sure, there were some good saves, but 16 shots on target should return a bigger goal haul than 2. Aaron for all his great positioning is generally very poor in front of goal. He’s a long way from Frank Lampard like finishing, and he really does need to find that touch and instinct because he’s in his prime now. Being an engine with no end product kind of makes you an average player. I think he’s been out of the game for so long, it’s going to take time to find his feet, but if our season is going to be worth anything, he’s going to have to find that end product along with maintaining his fitness.

Iwobi is in a similar career situation, though obviously much younger. He looks like he’s beefed up a bit since last season, he’s certainly stronger on the ball and his pace makes him exciting. Again, similar to Ramsey, there’s a lot of great feet and smart positioning, but the end product isn’t always there, be it finishing, final pass or general decision-making. Today he had a good game, he finished a lovely back-heeled pass from Alexis and put in a pretty composed performance. One to build from.

Lacazette had a mixed bag. Considering his lack of bluster compared to Alexis, he’s certainly more efficient at winning the ball back from the front and making something from the turnover. He capitalised on mistakes and sluggish passing a number of times to create an opening. The shame is that he didn’t score. He nearly broke the post early on, but the rest of his chances weren’t dealt with crisply, sometimes getting the ball caught under his feet, or not striking the ball cleanly (which is a bit amateur). I really want him to do well, but games like today leave little puddles of doubt he’s taking us to the promised land.

The exciting side note for me is the realisation that we’re going to be just fine in a post-Mesut era. We don’t miss him in the big games, and we’re not going to miss him in the small games. Whatever is happening with his fitness, it’s an irrelevance if we can keep Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey fit and hungry (LOL). That brings me great joy because I think Mesut has been a bit of a stats induced mirage for years.

Losing Alexis won’t be so comfortable… like a vegan with a pet dog loading up the Pedigree Chum (vegans don’t do the meat thing), you know Wenger doesn’t want to have to make a morally poor decision (picking Sanchez is like buying dog food), but it’s for the good of the team (team > dog, because vegan dog food is bad for dogs).

Finally, a very solid game from fan favourite, NACHO MONREAL. He scored his first goal at The Emirates which surprised me. I’ve no idea why I think he has more goals than the 2 he now has. Great for him to add a goal to his so far superb season.

Right, that’s all from me. Will catch you on the other side!