Gosh, where to go with that game?
A win is a win is a win. We took the match by a margin, but so many things about the whole thing just make me feel very uncomfortable about the season ahead. And look, you have to call these things early, because burying your head in a victory now will only leave you disappointed later down the line when it typically goes to shit for the reasons I’ll call out now.
Firstly, the line up really has started to baffle me on a game by game basis. Talent aside, you have to say that in the end, Arsene Wenger purchased the right sort of pieces to say that he finally had a squad that could work. So when we head into our third game in a week with Santi and Coquelin in the middle, it really was a head banger of a moment.
Firstly, Santi Cazorla is now 31. He’s well into the back 9 of a Premier League centre midfielder. He’s never been an athlete and that’s really starting to show now. He’s getting outpaced on the pitch and he’s racking up minutes like Wenger is trying to force an injury on him. As for Coquelin, I’ve never watched an Arsene Wenger centre midfielder reject the ball so obviously. If it wasn’t Mustafi trying to break the lines with ambitious through balls, we had Ozil dropping deep to pick up and make things happen.
This would be fine, but we have Elneny and Xhaka sitting on the bench.
Wenger also rolled with Alexis up front. A player that’s looked erratic more often than not, a player who is increasingly playing for himself… a player who showcased that perfectly when he stole the penalty of Santi… then missed it. A very, very worrying act for a senior player to be seen engaging in.
Good news is that Hull were absolutely atrocious. They had a centre mid in central defence, and not in the Pep Guardiola kind of way. We took the lead after 16 in a weird mish-mash of errors. Coquelin duffed a shot at goal, it rebounded back to him, he played to Santi, who slipped the ball out wide to Theo who played a first-time cross that forced a save because it wasn’t accurate, Iwobi fired back at goal, Sanchez nipping in and getting the final touch.
The penalty incident happened, Livermore adjudged to have handled, Sanchez hit an appalling shot low, the Hull keeper saved… the attempt was so tame it almost caught Jakupovic out because it rolled at him so slowly. A bad mistake.
The second half opened with a bit of Iwobi magic, he laid off a back heel so perfect, Theo Walcott managed to finish it with a lovely chip.
At this point, I was hoping for a bit of aggression. Looking for Arsenal to kill a shellshocked Hull. But we didn’t make it count. Hull debuted Mbokani, he broke our line (was it offside?), Cech came wading out clattering him… the ref oddly waved on, but pulled it back to the spot, with Snodgrass converting.
We lost all our shape, had a few mad moments, but we pushed our lead again when Alexis Sanchez picked up Theo’s leftovers and fired into the top corner. A lovely finish that made me forgive his penalty indiscretion. Xhaka had time to give a big middle finger to the manager when he fired home from 35 yards out. He doesn’t realise that’s not allowed under Wenger, he likes opposition defences to know they can stand off them outside the box, a big mistake.
Vision: I watch Liverpool at the moment, with their pretty average players, doing wild things on the pitch. They know what they’re doing, they’re motivated and they’re performing really well. We have better players, but it’s all a bit of a mess. Players don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing, there’s not clear vision and the selection process is really confusing. We’ll get away with this against poor teams, but come on, we’re supposed to be competing for the league this year… and we’re in no shape for that.
Player Attitude: I know it’s sacrosanct to say anything against Ozil, but his fucks given counter was pretty low yesterday. His stats will come back and say he ran 48miles, but he didn’t look fired up to me. And he didn’t look particularly disciplined. I mean, it must be pretty depressing having to come back into deep midfield to pick up the ball, but jeez, you chose this man.
Also, someone needs to get a grip on Sanchez and selfishness. He plays for himself and when we’re doing badly, he plays even more for himself. He shouldn’t be allowed penalties if he’s not the penalty taker. Such an idiotic thing to do.
Team Selection: I don’t understand the mentality. The Xhaka thing is perplexing. He’s a DM, we’re electing to move him up the pitch when we have a clear issue with Coquelin? Makes no sense to me whatsoever. If it’s about ‘settling’ then put Elneny in there?
We’re moving into another season where the manager doesn’t seem to get rotation. Another season when he doesn’t know his best mix of players. Another season with midfield like a colander. He’s making the same old mistakes, even when he has the squad to do things differently. Crazy.
Iwobi: Guy looks a class act. Superb touch, he has the magic and he’s gearing up to be a threat in front of goal. I really like him. Hleb with end product. Can’t argue with that!
The Score: I mean, we won. I can’t be too despondent. But I think you can tell a lot from these sorts of games. When people are busting out the ‘win ugly’ card in September, you generally have problems, especially when it’s against 10 man Hull.
A lot of work to be done to get us up to speed this year… Chelsea next. Who also haven’t been that impressive. A big test upon us for sure!
See you tomorrow!