Nothing like a BLISTERING win in the FA Cup to kick a cold Tuesday morning off in style.
Arteta headed back to Bournemouth for the second time as Arsenal manager and put on a more impressive show than the first outing a little over 5 weeks ago.
The first half showed us exactly where the football is heading if we give the manager time (and the right players). We moved the ball around at speed, the players were aggressive, you could see the vision. Pretty much everything the football hasn’t been for the last 5 years. Joe Willock immediately repaid his starting berth with a brilliant turn in midfield, he powered forward at the Bournemouth goal, gave the ball to Gabriel who found Saka on the overlap… the young winger/fullback didn’t make the same mistakes he made in the last game, rifling a shot at the inside post in off the bar. The build-up had 22 passes that went through 10 players, shades of the good old days? Don’t…
The second was well worked. Mustafi to Eddie, back to Willock, out wide to Saka, Saka with the low drive into the box, Martinelli dummies… Eddie into the back of the net. Wonderful.
Arsenal going forward at times was a thing of beauty, we looked scary on the counter-attack, and finally, we looked pretty good when building up play in and around the box. Not perfect, but the players finally seemed to be finding a bit of confidence that’s been lacking over the last month. Arteta certainly felt like his players executed his plan well.
“In the first half we were really, really good. They executed everything we planned in a really good way and showed the courage to make big decisions.
“We played with that accountability, making decisions and I really liked it. They were terrific with their work-rate, showed courage to make those big decisions and not to play safe.
“That is the difference.”
The second half wasn’t quite as impressive. It looked liked we were more than comfortable to sit on a two-goal cushion and to be fair, Bournemouth really didn’t give us too much to worry about. They tried to rough us up, but again, it didn’t seem to bother us.
Matteo Guendouzi was back to typical shithousing form, he sucks opposition into battling him, but he never lets the win. He was man of the match, he played with much more discipline than we’ve seen from him over the past 5 months. He timed his runs, kept things solid in the middle, and was just a bit of a nuisance all game. He has stamina for days and he has a good knack for knowing where to stand to nick balls and counter-press.
Saka, Eddie and Gabriel are a joy to watch. So much energy and enthusiasm. They don’t give a fuck where they play as long as they play. Those are the types of characters you want to get behind. I just hope they maintain that spark and continue to grow, it’d be great to have three young players like that grow into superstars… and it’d be great to have two homegrown talents pushing for roles with the national team.
The only blight on the match outside the late goal they scored and the borefest that is VAR, was seeing Mustafi go down with what looked like and achilles problem. I’m sad for him because he’s just been given a rebirth, but more sad for Arsenal, because we’ve lost another defender and the club apparently botched the move for Pablo Mari. Say what you will about the risk of signing him, the man was indeed a human body we could do with. We’re in trouble in defence… Xhaka might have to take up that centre back role more permanently.
Oh… I also thought Ceballos played well when he came on. He certainly doesn’t look disengaged.
Big shout out to Joe Willock for the second time in this post. He had a great game and added some much-needed end product to his game. He’s strong, he’s great at running through the lines, and he’ll add goals to his game as he matures. He needs to keep taking those chances he’s given, a bright future ahead if he does.
One thing before I go, I do like watching the press conferences these days. Arteta really seems to love the fact he’s managing Arsenal. He talks with such great energy, he’s passionate about the game, the league, and the players he’s working with to improve. Great to see.
6 games unbeaten now. Good times.
Pompey in the next round… very exciting.
P.S. I recorded a podcast last night, but the sound corrupted. New one later today. Sorry Alex, I really am. x