Morning Grovers! How much can one man get wrong in a post? I thought Koscielny would play, I thought Ramsey would get a start and I thought Giroud would play central!
Turns out my thoughts were wrong. I’d like to blame the beer, but a good drinker never blames his can.
So onto the game. Coquelin’s moaning did him the world of good as he made his first appearance of the season. Diaby was ‘rested’. When Wenger says rested, what he doesn’t follow it up with is rested from injury. Up front we played Gervinho centrally and back into the side was Chesney.
The game is going to be pretty simple to report on. We dominated. We destroyed. We conceded a very disappointing first goal of the season.
Podolski was the creator for the first… kind of. He played a nicely weighted pass into Gibbs out wide on the left, the Englishman shot across goal, the Southampton keeper parried and luckily for us Jos Hooiveld was on hand to tap in.
When new teams come to the Premier League and go a goal down so early on in a game, it can end up turning into a massive thumping. We really did find our rhythmn today. Southampton were chasing shadows for the most part as Arsenal carved out chances all over the park.
Gervinho had a chance to put us further ahead but fluffed his lines, Per Mertesacker came close to scoring with his head but the keeper saved well.
Then our 2nd came. A freekick was won outside the Southampton box after Coquelin was fouled. Cazorla, Arteta and Podolski lined up for the freekick. The German elected for the smash over the wall and hit the sweet spot. What a freekick… and boy didn’t he love celebrating it?
Gervinho took the third goal, timing his run to perfection to get on the receiving end of an absolutely class pass from Arteta. He powered into the box and drilled the ball inside the keepers near post. Gervinho as a striker? Who knew!
The fourth came from an Gervinho pass to Podolski, the German ripped a shot at goal and it was again deflected into the back of the net by a Saints player. I had to double take… had Arsenal been taking lessons from Frank Lampard in lucky goals?
The second half was a little less frenetic than the first. The boys knew they’d won and they slowed down. I wonder whether the coach tells them to slip into second gear when they’re 4 in front? Conserve energy and all that… Anyway, one player who totally switched off was Chesney. A cross was floated into the back stick, he went for it, dropped it and allowed Fox to fire home into an empty net. Not a great way to concede your first goal. However, at least it was an individual mistake rather than a collective problem. Our keeper was pretty poor the whole game if I’m honest. I wonder if those high profile mistakes he made at the Euros are bothering him still? His kicking was atrocious at times. Most of Southampton’s chances came from his poor passing.
We still had some more goals left in reserve. Ramsey came on for Coquelin. He and Cazorla combined nicely, he powered into the box and held onto the ball for far too long, he toe poked the ball past the keeper, it hit the post but Gervinho was on had to finish from a yard. I’m pretty sure he took three touches to get it over the line. But he finished. The final goal came from Theo Walcott when he slotted past the keeper in a crowded box.
All in all. A superb day. One of the last sunny ones for a while I sense. The atmosphere was fantastic as well. Plenty of singing in my block which was unusual!
So to conclude footballistically?
It’s tough to really give any insight into a game we totally dominated. The team are finding a rhythm now, our best players are finding form and some of the players who needed to step up to the plate are finally doing so. I thought Gervinho through the middle was an experiment that worked out. He’s far from cultured as a striker but he knows how to go round players, he’s very fast and he sometimes knows where the net is. I still think he lacks that decisive edge that is going to make him a really top, top player… but that could come.
I thought the back four were solid today bar the error. Having a midfield that supports you is new thing at Arsenal and it’s paying dividends. I thought Coquelin had a very solid game today. He’ll learn plenty from Arteta. You don’t realise how big he is until you see him in the flesh. He looks a far more promising prospect than Denilson ever did. Like I said earlier in the summer, he’s only a year younger than M’Vila. If he can have a good season this year, it’ll vindicate binning Song and not replacing him.
Cazorla looks like the signing of the summer. What an absolute dream of a player he is. He can play with both feet, his movement off the ball is as good as his movement on the ball and his range of passing gets me excited in a totally inappropriate way. There were a flurry of passes in the first half that he was at the heart of… mesmerising stuff. It actually opened my eyes to how good a player Podolski is. I thought he was quite an industrial footballer, but he actually has great technique and a superb touch. He showed some deft touches when showboating with Cazorla.
All in all, positive vibes all round. Our starting 11 is up there with the best in the league. If we can keep key players fit this year, I still think we’ll be in the mixing pot. It’s a massive if obviously, but this team and squad is getting stronger by the week.
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Catch you in the comments!