I’ve been writing for a few weeks that the two most important games of the month would be the Southampton game and the United one. Last night, we passed with flying colours, beating a top 8 contender in fairly convincing style.
Arsenal switched back to their strongest 11, bar Gabriel who was out for Luiz, Tierney who was deputised by Cedric, and Auba who continues to miss action for reasons unknown.
Things started badly, Lacazette missed a one-on-one after 50 seconds, two minutes later we were done by an outrageous corner, Nicolas Pepe dozing on the edge of the box, Armstrong smashing home with a first-time finish.
We clawed our way back fairly quickly though. Pepe turned hero after Xhaka released him inside left, he used his body well, held off a strong challenge and bounced his shot off the ground high enough to fizz past the Southampton keeper.
Saka made it two. Lacazette made up for his early miss, guiding a Xhaka pass into Saka’s path. ‘Star boy’ broke the line, rounded the keeper and slotted home to make it two.
Our third was started by Cedric who switched play to Saka with a stunning pass. Bukayo took over, finding Lacazette at the back post for a tap-in. Amusing that Laca was writhing in agony by laughing at the same time after hitting the post with his body.
So what did we learn? Same thing we have done every week since Chelsea. We have a really exciting first team and when they play we look really decent.
What we learned today is there are a few surprise packages coming to life when it matters. Nicolas Pepe created five chances in the FA Cup game we lost, I thought he was fairly drossy in that game, but many cited the lack of a #10 to play with. We have to commend his performance tonight. He made a difference, he was a threat, and he put in a shift defensively. I’m not sure he’s good enough, but what he did last night was way better than we’ve been seeing.
Cedric was elite all game. Arteta reckons fitness has been the problem. Well, whatever it was, he’s showing his talent in the best of ways. He’s very efficient on the ball, he works like a demon, and say it quietly… he has a bit of sauce to his game. I was very impressed with him last night. Maybe he’s about to come good?
It goes without saying the Saka IS the sauce. It’s chilli sauce. He’s the little chilli because they pack the most flavour. Since the Chelsea game, he’s popping up with numbers. He’s an incredible talent and we are VERY lucky to have him at Arsenal getting better game after game.
Also, small shout for ESR. He didn’t land a goal or an assist, but he’s a class act. Brilliant movement, great work ethic, and an unpredictable game that makes him very difficult to play against. I love his first touch. What I love even more is how fast he moves the ball or makes a decision. He has a very simple game, executed efficiently. Just what we needed.
We have a HUGE game coming up this weekend. OGS has United purring. Rashford, Martial, Fernandes and Pogba are all buzzing… so it’ll be a very tough game. Wouldn’t it be magic if we could do some damage in that fixture?
Right, short post. Listen to our on-the-whistle podcast and I’ll see you in the comments.