Well a very good morning to you. I’ve returned, off the back of a victory to talk Aston Villa away.
The main thoughts before the game were as followed.
Arsenal: Better players, low confidence, fatigued
Villa: Worse players, high confidence, fresh
A better team and I’d have really been worried. The good news before the game was that Aston Villa had a virus rip through their camp. They lost their best centre back and an important midfielder before the game… as well as the impetus. From a psychological perspective, illness is a nice get out of jail card if you’re an average player.
The good news for us mostly sat around Ozil in the middle.
Well, the game started pretty strongly in Villa’s favour. They had the better chances in the opening half an hour. Chezzer shanked a kick down the middle, Delph (last year of his deal, energetic English midfielder anyone?) powered forward, played a one-two on the edge of the box and powered a low shot at the bottom corner, our boy doing a great job tipping round the post.
Welbeck opened our chances down the other end with a curling shot that went over. I like that he’s having a go at them, very Thierry like. Hopefully one will drop soon.
Villa had their best chance when Chambers clumsily challenged Agbonlohor for a freekick. The ball was whipped in at the back post, everyone missed in a red shirt, Clark connected but Chezzer spread well to make a super block at the back stick.
Then it clicked for us, 4 minutes of total madness.
The first goal came when WELBZ slotted Ozil through the middle, the German maintained composure to fire past Guzman.
The second goal was a reverse, Ozil outwide whipped a low dangerous ball into the box, WELBZ sniffed out the chance and guided that ball in for his first GOAL EVER FOR ARSENAL.
THAT WAS WELBZ GOOD TO SEE!
The third came courtesy of Villa, a speculative poor cross from Gibbs was turned in at the back stick Cissokho. A lovely finish that killed the game.
The second half was played out in a very drab way. We stifled play, held possession well and kept Villa at bay. What did baffle me was the same old approach with substitutes. The game was totally dead. Villa couldn’t run. They had no interest in chasing the game. Yet Wenger waited until the 78th minute to make a change?
For me, this sums up problems to come and shows that the manager is still not grasping the psychological side of the game nor the fitness. He should have given players like Rosicky and Podolski a stretch of at least 25 minutes… and hell, why not get Abou out on the pitch? If he breaks down when we’re 3 up, no harm done.
Anyway, it is what it is with Arsene. The game finished with a clean sheet, a shot of confidence and a sexy three points on the board.
Jack Wilshere: At the moment, he should be starting in front of Aaron Ramsey (if we insist on Arteta). No doubt in my mind. He’s found his game, he works his bollocks off and he looks very much in control of his fitness. Outside his niggly attitude, which, let’s be honest, makes him the player we love…he’s been the better player this season. Aaron Ramsey just isn’t there for me. He’s playing like he’s a centre forward and he hasn’t looked anywhere near the destroyer he was last year. Is it the new found fame? Is it the modelling contracts? Who knows. He needs find himself again, because he’s been awful this season and he looks very much like that Aaron of two seasons ago.
‘Hold on, you played him through the middle and he looked way better?’
Yeah, that’s a shocker! He looked much more comfortable yesterday. He helped the game tick over. He was more involved. He made himself visible. He made me forget about Cesc… which is important. Every time someone says, ‘Pete, do you regret saying Cesc going to Chelsea was ok?’… I jar a little. You see, Cesc is one of my fave players of all time. I know he’s a champion. I know he could have been a champion for us. But, I also know Ozil could do the same if he pulled his head out of his backside. I also know the only way he’ll do that is if he’s played in that hole. Hopefully we’ll see more of the German now…
Chambers: Feel like he’s getting exposed a little bit at the moment. His game is going to be up and down. Yesterday, he was lucky not to pick up a red card. He seems a little off the pace at times. Which is to be expected considering his youth. I really think we need to look after him. A teenager taking a beasting in the first team isn’t on for me. But hey, what options do we have? Not many…
OXLADE: Finally he lands a start. I absolutely love this boy. He’s direct, he’s strong, he works hard and he brings ALL the energy to the starting 11. He has an infectious spirit on the pitch. If he can keep fit this season, I feel like he (along with Jack) can make Rambo like progress strides this season. When Theo returns, which realistically, to a level where he’s relevant will likely be early November, we have dangerous amounts of pace.
WELBZ: Again, really starting to enjoy him in the starting 11. When you see him in the flesh, you’re shocked at his frame. He’s a big lad, he’s packed with pace and he finds positions on the pitch that make you think he could be something a bit special. He misses the chances, but that’s a good thing (follow me here). Better to be in position to miss, because it shows you have instinct… than to not get the chances (Soldado).
Chezzer: I’m not his biggest fan, you know this, but that save at the near back post from the freekick early on was a bit special and a bit important. If we’d gone 1-0 at that stage, it would have been tough.
Moving forward: The next few weeks are going to be fascinating. Why? Because this is when we find out what the new fitness regime is all about. Or, whether there is a new regime at all. We have Southampton on Tuesday. It’s the Capital One Cup. It’s a game we should be using to blood sidelined players. It’s a game we should be using rest more senior players. Don’t even invite them to the game, let them have some time off. Let them catch up on X Factor.
Then it’s Spurs home on Saturday. A massive game. Spurs will be a different beast this year under Pochettino. They’ll have a better plan and they’ll cause us more problems. 3 points would be very, very good. Point is, 0ur form will be very much tested on Saturday. Then we take the Champions League on with Gala at home. Chelsea take on Sporting the day before away, which gives us a bit of an advantage because there’s no travel. Though we do have one less day recovery.
Then it’s up to Wenger how he plays it after. Will he beast the players before the game like it appeared he had last season when we were absolutely tanked at The Bridge? Or will he be smart about the preparation? If we go to Chelsea dead on our feet like we did at Leicester and Everton, it could be a very painful game. If we learn the lessons of last season, then hopefully we’ll arrive at all games more prepared physically. A fit and firing Arsenal will ask questions. A dead team won’t. Simple as that.
The major, major concern for me with the Chelsea game in particular is the preparation that goes into our tactical game. Who is going to stand up to Arsene and tell him we need a game plan? Who is going to sit with the players and tell them what is what? Who is going to insist that we bring an element of surprise to The Bridge?
Big moments are coming… buckle up.