Well, wrap that performance in a bow and call it an early Christmas present. Unai Emery turned a shabby opening 35 minutes into the best performance of the season. A Mesut Ozil masterclass chalked our 10th consecutive win of the season on the board and allowed us to climb to a heady 4th, ahead of Spurs (GD), just behind Chelsea (GD).
I think we can all confidently agree that this was the best 55 minutes Emery has had at Arsenal. The team started off terribly, as per usual. We were open at the back, we made sloppy mistakes, mostly stemming from looped balls over the back of the high line. Transitioning the ball in the final third was non-existent, our attack had zero sauce. The front three were anonymous, and Lacazette was being eaten alive by an Evans/Mcguire partnership.
We went down in sorry circumstances. Hector Bellerin was left alone on the right, Leicester switched play in his direction, Lacazette was slow off the mark (why he was tracking I’ll never know), Chillwell had the pace to pick up the ball, power past a vegan Bellerin (triiiger) and ricochet his cross off the Spaniards leg past a helpless Leno.
You wondered whether we were about to witness the brutal xG correction everyone had feared, but at the same time, it’s clear we’re really fucking slow starters under Emery, and we’ve come back enough times this season not to throw the towel in.
It didn’t take long to find our rhythm, the goal jolted Arsenal into gear. Leicester, who’d had great success with a strong strategic press seemed to fall apart. We found out rhythm in midfield, and Ozil started to pick the game up by the scruff of the neck. Our movement improved, Ozil, Mikhi, Iwobi and Lacazette started to work each other out and we became more of a threat.
Just before the break Torreira turned over possession finding Lacazette who played it back to Xhaka. The Swiss moved the ball forward to Ozil who surged forward 20 yards, he released Bellerin who played it right back to him first time, Mesut was on the edge of the box to pass the ball into the far corner. An immaculate finish, a beauty of a goal and just in time to wreck the Leicester halftime talk.
The second half was interesting because we didn’t make any subs on 45, the only notable change seemed to be Iwobi moving the right. We had a brief scare with Leicester hitting the bar after a Leno flap. The magic happened when Emery took off Mikhi and Lichtsteiner, bringing on Auba and Guendouzi. The move had an almost instant impact.
After some lovely passing moves between Auba, Laca, and Guendouzi, Ozil was found in space, he weighted a dream ball to Bellerin, evading 4 players in the process, the cross was first time AGAIN where Auba was foxing for the tap in. A wonderful goal.
Our finishing move was an epic masterpiece for the ages starting from the keeper. Torreira moved the ball Ozil. Ozil with the side of the foot flick to Guendouzi, who released Bellerin, Iwobi drags the attention of two players with a dummy run, Bellerin plays inside to Ozil who fakes and lets the ball play through his legs, Lacazette feeds it back into his run, Ozil the chips the ball with the outside of his foot to Auba who scores AGAIN from about 5 yards. What. A. Goal.
My timeline is flooded with this beauty
— Le Grove (@LeGrove) October 23, 2018
The game finished 3-1. Emery missiles us soaring to within 2 points of the league leaders. Arsenal look like a proper team again.
So, the first time we’ve won 10 in a row since October 2007 (a month after we started this blog). Auba bags 21 goals in 22 Premier League games for Arsenal. Arsenal top the league table for subs with goals on 6. Arsenal also corrected on their xG model, meaning we deserved the win. All the magic.
I don’t really know what to write. Things are going incredibly well. The players look fit, the football at times was exceptional and some of the goals were off the charts. We’ve had about 5 goals of the season and we’re only in October.
The key thing for me is if we’re performing like this now, it’s a good indicator that even when we have a blip, we’re capable of fighting for top 4 regardless. It feels like there’s a resilience to the setup. We’ll probably still have to go hard at Europa, but it looks like the squad depth is there. We’re rolling hard with the wins playing a 34 year left back and Mustafi. Imagine how we’ll be playing with Koscielny and Sokratis coming into the side. Also, did you see the team preserving energy on 72minutes? I love that. The coach has the players thinking past the 90 they’re in.
We’re still going to have to work hard on our defensive solidity, especially early on in the game. We were incredibly open and teams are exploiting our high press with ease. If we’re open like that against Liverpool, we’re buried in 15minutes. I’m fascinated to see how Emery approaches that game because it can’t look anything like the first 25minutes of every other game we’ve played this season.
When Mesut took control after we went a goal down, we were a different beast. He really unlocked Leicester and was a driving force in the revival. He is the key to any success we have this year. Unlocking his drive and personal ambition is a must for Emery. I really can’t put words to how scintilatting it was to have him revved up. I mean, it helps when he has a game off and an international break playing on his twitch, but shit, who cares, get me that every week, or at least in the important games.
Big shout out to Iwobi. He had some moments of sexiness out there. His final ball needs to improve, but you can see the footballer he could become shining through. That cheeky nutmeg he made, some of those beautiful passes and his improved movement are all items that are making it hard to drop him.
Also notable that Ramsey is now a bit part player. No doubt he’ll have a role to play in midweek (I mean, I’m not even sure there), but coming on with 15 minutes to go as a third sub tells you that Emery is going to play it his way, and he wants him gone by January so he can bring in players who are committed to the cause and can help. Ramsey’s agent has had a fucking shocker, his client is going to be out of form and out of mind when he needed to be playing games shop windowing himself.
What a fool.
Anyway, we’re above Spurs, everything is looking very rosy and the fans really do sound like they’ve got their Arsenal back.
See you in the comments! x
P.S. Shout out to the English I sat next to in an LA bar yesterday who leant over and said,
‘Do you listen to Arsenal podcasts?’
‘Yes, which do you like?’
‘That Yankee Gunner guy on Arsenal Vision, that’s the best one out there by a mile’
Still applying aloe vera to my third degree burns. Thanks a lot. 😭