What an absolutely super day out at Southampton. You really cannot knock anybody for an all round excellent performance, both from a managerial perspective and from a player one.
Wenger, pushed into the stands actually tried something new… proper rotation. Not, let’s put rotate, but play the players who aren’t getting a game in the wrong position. No, full on rotation, players coming into roles they understood and sticking with a system we all know.
I’m going to do this quickly today, because I’m flying to Pittsburgh (any reccos of things to do would be eaten up), so here are 5 things I loved.
After two back to back long term injuries, I did worry he’d come back slow or timid. Neither concern were on show yesterday. He showed strength, control, fighting spirit and a productive edge. He even dropped a salt bae celebration that we could enjoy because we were winning.
Him rejoining at this point of the season is superb for rotation, it’s great tactically and it’s good for the team. I think people like playing with him and they thrive off his energy in that central role. Perfect cover if Sanchez needs a rest. Two fine goals capped a great day, the first coming after Perez turned a Maitland-Niles pass deftly into his path, he poked the ball over the keeper and it went in off the bar. The second came from a stunning Chambo ball from deep within our half, Welbz watched it over his shoulder, brought it down and clumped it between the keepers legs. Very good work.
The guy’s a machine. 15 games (7 starts), 6 goals and 5 assists. You can’t knock it. He might not be world class, but he is a very talented player. His no-look ball through to Welbeck was Ozil levels of deftness. He was also involved in Walcott’s first. He moves well, he brings people into the game and you’d trust him in front of goal. Surely he’s done enough to merit more a chance during the back end of the season?
You know I have my reservations about our reserve keeper, but it certainly says something about someone’s talent when you can have a bad game being the keeper for a team that wins 5-0. His decision making is off, he creates drama from the most basic of jobs and at a very base level, he’s not tall enough. I don’t understand why we persist.
Love the little Chilean, but really, why are we playing him in a game like Southampton in the early rounds of the FA Cup, when we’re smashing them? Seems a really silly risk to take for someone who is unbelievably crucial to our run in. Crazy bit is Wenger broke his 70m rule and gave him 30mins.
That aside, he comes on and drops two assists. Can’t knock that, can you?
Theo Walcott / Chambo
I bunched these two together because they both played for Southampton and they both get the same beasting online for being average. They also both had brilliant games. Theo looked very confident in front of goal, banging in a hattrick. Chamberlain played in the middle, he passed well, made good decisions and contributed with an epic 40 yard assist. He and Maitland-Niles looked solid together, I mean, sure it was a poor side, but having two players who could pass the ball, both very mobile, it was impressive and as someone pointed out in the comments, the second time we’ve seen Chambo play well there.
Solid game from the Jeff. I also thought Steve Bould looked very comfortable sitting on the bench, he must have been pleased. Wenger was also pretty amusing with his not so clandestine radio to the bench. Hilarious stuff.
A great win against a team that has bothered us immensely over the last few years. My one, ‘hold on’ moment in general is we should be beating a Southampton who rotated 10 names as well. All the wins we’re racking up this month are important, and they’re great, but keep sight of the bigger picture here… we should be winning these games.
Watford on Tuesday is massive, and then the really big one. Can we make Chelsea flap? Can we do the double over Conte? If we do… the Premier League is back on.