We’ve had once again a brilliant weekend of Premier League football. I can’t quite comprehend when weekends go like this for us in football, although I have noticed it seems to have been a little more frequent this season, which is nice. It’s the beginning of what we’ve been crying out for in the league, some consistency. It certainly breaks from our tradition of letting ourselves down on the big occasions. And that’s something I want to speak of in today’s post. There seems to be a little sea of change occurring in the otherwise serene Premier League sea. It’s the first time there’s been some change at the bigger clubs. We look a little more consistent in the league yes, however there have been some real changes going on elsewhere. Brendan Rodgers the first big casualty of the season, granted Dick Advocaat also left his post but Brendan Rodgers is clearly the one everyone will be talking about the next 2 weeks. On top of that we had the Premier League’s first ever monologue as an interview. Jose Mourinho looked an absolute wreck, as most managers would off the back of the results that they have had, and he spoke without a break for 7 minutes straight, in response to one question. He didn’t even allow another question as I think by the end he had almost gone full circle and realised he’d said too much.
The main point of all of the above is that there hasn’t really been too much change over the last few years at the bigger clubs, Man Utd aside. Arsene has been at the helm for a fair few years as we know, Rodgers was at Liverpool for over 3 years, Mourinho is in his 3rd season, Pelegrini is also in his 3rd season. Louis Van Gaal is now in his 2nd season, but Utd still seem to be trying to escape the shadow of Sir Alex, which will take time. It does however seem that with Rogers leaving and Mourinho speaking as if he knows he’s on the ropes. It just looks like there’s a little bit of change in the offing and who knows that may well increase the quality of our league as change always seems to bring increased quality in the short term at least. I do feel a little sorry for the guy as much as we love to laugh at his quite illustrious collection of quotes, simply because of the way it has happened. Why give the guy the money in the summer if you’re not convinced? Surely they would say you go with what you have and start well and then reinforce at Christmas if things are looking like they are going the right way. Now they have a selection of players who are Rodgers’ players – the new man in will have to work with them possibly until the end of the season. Madness really. Mourinho was a little more entertaining. That he’s talking of his future in an unprompted manner speaks volumes of the pressure he is feeling. The amount of abuse we get for our manager defending his players and refusing to cave to shithousery from the press is going to be brilliant to behold so long as it’s pressed upon him.
Our performance is obviously something that we must talk about. Absolutely blistering is the only way to describe our start to the game. On the front foot and pressing is the way we must begin every game. It is way that we do try and begin most games but it’s the lack of taking chances that sometimes sucks us back into a slower build up and approach. Walcott seems have been the key for us in recent times to make that difference of taking chances early on. His performance was outstanding. We’re used to saying Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have had great games, but it’s great to have been able to say that about Theo so far this season. He’s done it pretty much every time he’s played so I really hope he can’t keep that consistency going because on current form he’s our first choice front man for sure. It really should have been 4-0 when some great interplay between Sanchez, Walcott and Ozil resulted in a ball played towards the back post for Ramsey to tap in. He blazed over and that really would have been the icing on the cake of a superb first half. Games like this one do make you wonder as to why it can’t be more often however there needs to be a bit of balance taken with this view. You have to remember that Utd haven’t really had that many tough games thus far and this was one of their first ones. Granted you can only beat what is in front of you but I’m not convinced that Utd have the squad to compete for the title just yet. They are not quite right at the back which has been an unaddressed issue for a while now and this may yet change come January, but there’s a lot of football to play between now and then. I think that they will get found out against better sides however it also has to be said that the falling standard of the Premier League will no doubt help them, us and other contenders to stay in the hunt.
For all our great attacking play there was one moment of panic when Martial muscled his way onto the ball from Mertesacker and had a chance to reduce the deficit to 3-1 just before HT. That would well and truly have brought back nightmares of the past for us and provided a different test in the second half. 40 minutes in, it seemed as though we didn’t want the half to end but we then switched off for the last 5 minutes forgetting that there was a side desperately trying to get back into the game. It could well have cost us but thankfully Cech was alert to the danger and made a quite fabulous save. There was one other real chance for Utd in the second half where Mata dummied the ball through and Rooney was slow to react, leaving a half chance for Schweinsteiger on goal. Cech again reacted well and snuffed out the danger. Other than that there were a few shots from range that were dealt with quite comfortably. We weren’t quite our effervescent best in the second half but we managed the game really well without leaving ourselves exposed to the counter. Smart football. Even then we managed to create 3 brilliant chances for ourselves. Ozil had a chance from a Monreal cut back, as did Giroud from an Oxlade-Chamberlain ball across and The Ox himself hit the bar at the death. We could quite easily have had 5 or 6 and I really do wish we got them. We’ve been on the end of some bashings as we all know but to dish them out in return is always fun. It would have been more fun still if we had compounded the misery with another couple of goals. Ah well, you can’t have everything.
The last point I want to talk about is the tactical side of our performance. The media, the commentators and anyone with any football interest always intimates that Arsene Wenger doesn’t do tactics. He doesn’t know how to change things whilst a game is running. So around the 65 minute mark when Wenger moved Ozil wide and Ramsey in the centre to cope with Fellaini, Martin Tyler made the ‘salient’ point of saying “People accuse Wenger of not doing tactics, but he’s showing a great example of changing to the game’s situation”. Well done Martin I hear you cry! The 75th minute displayed yet another tactical change. Giroud for Walcott to hold the ball up more as Utd pressed higher as well as help us to deal with their set piece threat, and The Ox for Ozil to add some energy into our pressing and defensive game on the right. Martin Tyler quite on cue followed with “well Walcott looks like he’s disappointed not to finish the game here, something for the manager to think about”. What an inept attempt at analysis. We’ve made changes to cope with Utd threats and from “doing tactics” Wenger gets effectively labeled as unable to manage his players. Comical. If ever you were wondering whether Martin Tyler had an agenda for Man Utd it was confirmed. He seemed to try and pick holes in our side wherever possible throughout the game and had little to say about Utd, it was in fact mostly Gary Neville who was lambasting Utd. The whole thing brings back memories of Benteke’s quite unreal bicycle kick vs Utd getting a fairly subdued reaction from Tyler followed by some serious pant wetting at Martial’s goal to make it 3-1. A tidy finish no doubt but did it deserve “Martial…YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHSSSSSS”? I’d say probably not.
All of that doesn’t really matter a jot as it happens. We beat them and beat them well. The international break can now be one that remains a little more stress free with not as many questions to answer for us fans.
Have a wonderful week people, I know I will.
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