There aren’t many weekends that come along like the one that just passed us by, but by God when they come they don’t half feel bloody brilliant!
We were ridiculed (rightly so) and labeled as ‘same old Arsenal’ (a little too hastily) after our mid-week hiding in Dortmund. The media do love to jump on any kind of bandwagon when given the opportunity and we should be used to this as football fans in general as it’s such a regular occurrence. I thought we played pretty awfully, however were able to create 3 or 4 pretty good chances out ourselves, and as we know, this is a game based around taking those chances. If we go 1-0 up through Danny Welbeck then our night could easily have become ‘one of their best ever European performances’ and so on and so forth. My point is we should definitely err on the side of caution before we allow ourselves to get carried away with the hyperbolic media that surrounds us. Unless the opinion or article you’re reading is from a source you truly trust and are interested in, don’t pay too much attention to it.
I think that the poor performance in Dortmund was a combination of 2 factors. Firstly we really are not quite used to the 4-1-4-1 system and secondly we just had a very off night, which can happen to any club. Dortmund incidentally lost away to Mainz this weekend just gone whereas we went and put Villa to the sword (more on that later). Each performance needs to be taken from as much of an equipoised view as possible and then judged with a bit of distance as this is likely to give us a clearer picture of where we are as a team. Looking at the shape of the team it seems that Le Boss is trying something different and that’s no bad thing, as we need to evolve our playing style with time. We may or may not agree with the approach but if things like this aren’t tried then we are never going to know what we are missing with different systems. I think it’s an experiment in progress, maybe not one we might see quite so much after the weekends showing, but one that will be parked in the TBC section. Luckily for us Galatasary and Anderlecht played out a draw so we are still right in the mix to qualify for the knockout stages.
So, we come to the weekend, where there were a whole lot of people expecting (wanting? #conspiracy) us to fail. We’re in an away game to an unbeaten Villa side who have gathered 10 points with only the 6 shots on target (how!!?!?). It was always going to be a tough game for us and in turn we were going to have to cope with their set piece threat, pace on the counter and the undoubted pressing game that they saw Dortumnd very successfully deploy against us. To be fair they had their fair share of chances and could have conceivably gone 1-0 up but for a fantastic save from the Scz. These finer points in a game are sometimes not as appreciated as they should be, similar to Welbeck failing to convert his chance in Dortmund, if Ciaran Clark scores the header, we have a very different prospect ahead of us. As it turns out they couldn’t take their chances and what followed was truly astonishing. 3 minutes and 12 seconds of some of the most incisive football we’ve played this season. Welbeck and Ozil combined beautifully (as did the team in general) in the lead up to the opening goal. I absolutely loved Ozil’s celebration as well, you could tell that the pressure was on his shoulders, especially as he was being played primarily through the middle, but he didn’t let that affect him and duly obliged with the coolest of finishes. He then turned provided from the left hand side (shock/horror!) and ensured Welbeck opened his account with another great finish. The third, albeit an own goal, left Villa in tatters and they had no idea how to react. The second half went by event free and it will make such a big difference as to how we can recharge the batteries this week. Putting in monumental amounts of effort in coming back from being a goal down etc makes for a week of relief rather than serenity and concentration for the North London Derby. That the second half passed by with minimal incident (An awful Ramsey cross field ball aside) made pleasant watching for us Gooners who are normally nervous until the match report is written.
The interesting thing formation wise from us this weekend was to see Ramsey slotting into more of a deeper lying role alongside Arteta allowing Ozil to play further forward and in the middle. This was with Cazorla and The Ox either side, which looked like the most balanced team we’ve put out for a while. It was a shape that we had played with great efficiency and success last season so it made sense that the players seemed more familiar with it and even the new boy Danny Welbeck benefited from the shape of the team and reaped the rewards of the system with a goal and an assist. This looks to me the shape that we should use more often than not as it not only enables us to play good football it seems to have us in a more organised shape to deal with counter attacking football. Again this one will probably need to be filed under TBC as we find our feet as a team this season.
It will be a case of rotation, rotation, rotation for tomorrow night against the Saints in a game that I hope one of our uncovered gems shines and then on to the big one. The North London Derby. A win on Saturday and our season will well and truly be up and running.
In other truly brilliant events, Man Utd went from ‘having the fear factor back’ to a quite humbling 5-3 defeat away to Leicester. From being 3-1 up. Our point out there is now looking like a pretty good one but I still couldn’t help being joyful as the events unfolded. Added to that Sp*rs lost at home to West Brom and Frank Lampard of all people denied Chelsea victory in the Middle Eastlands. All of that following a 3-0 Arsenal win was just brilliant.
Footballing Perfection as I mentioned earlier…
Have a great week folks.
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