People continue to think that it’s some sort of happy accident that we try and tire high press teams out before nailing them on the counter. That’s always been the way when we were/are out our clinical best. We endured a scrappy game where we had the lions share of the ball and the better chances in the first half but still didn’t quite click into gear. Partly because of international recovery/caution and partly down to our finishing not being quite on the money. Alexis Sanchez stung the palms of Gomes before finding Aaron Ramsey with a stunning pass only for Rambo to fluff his lines from a similar position to that against Man Utd. He’s brilliant on the right hand side and truly reminds me of Freddie Ljungberg when he makes those late drifting runs into the box. He didn’t have his best game yesterday but he just keeps motoring on. He’s one we can truly rely on to run through brick walls and one who will just keep going. Slightly different to the infectious way that Sanchez does so but still equally relentless. Never does the man hide away from the responsibility of the situation which is something I love.
Our first goal came from a Watford attack. Capoue could have stayed on his feet and actually made something happen, instead he chose to dive and claim a penalty when having dived outside of the box but I truly would like to thank him for his indirect assist to our goal. His attempt to cheat affected the position of the Watford players by a split second and had them scampering back from our counter. As much as it was a goal on the counter per se, it came from a brilliantly disguised pass by Santi Cazorla (what a man!!!) into Mesut Ozil. Ozil was running through to tap in before being fouled, most definitely a red card and a penalty but thankfully for the game’s sake Alexis Sanchez was on hand to slam home the loose ball. 1-0 up against 10 men away can become difficult and cause a little over cautiousness through siege mentality as well as the ref looking to even things out where possible so I’m glad that was all avoided. The second came from some good work from Sanchez leading to a Ramsey effort being blocked. The loose ball ended up with Ozil who we all thought would score but couldn’t resist assisting Giroud, who very much enjoyed getting that goal. The third was all down to Hector Bellerin. What a player he’s becoming. He burst down the right and jinked past a couple of players before calmly laying the ball on a plate for Ramsey to slot home. He needed a deflection to get it but to be fair his original shot was headed in beyond Gomes but the goal will do his confidence the world of good. It will definitely take some pressure off his shoulders as I do feel sometimes the pressure of goalscoring individually takes precedence over the right course of action for the team. Talking of individuals, I saw a stat after the game stating that Mesut Ozil is now joint 2nd on the assists table with 180 league assists. 20 of those came in the league for Arsenal, and it’s an impressive stat. I do wonder whether this is a stat with validity from 1992 as to when the Premier League era began, but I’m sure that it will be cleared up at some point this week. Either way the man that has fooled the morons amongst football fans as to his ability continues to wow us on a weekly basis.
We had to wait for our opportunity to take a hold of the game but we managed the game really well without putting ourselves under too much pressure which was most definitely the correct approach with Bayern in mind. Lord knows we’ll need to have conserved our energy en mass to overcome that behemoth of a football team. This week represents what the rest of our season might look like. We’re used to facing this situation around February, however due to some poor performances we find ourselves staring down the barrel a little earlier this season. We’ve heard all forms of the media talk about being knocked out of Europe as a blessing to concentrate on the league but I’m not sure I agree. Brendan Rodgers tried this approach last year when he rested his big guns vs Real Madrid, he ended up losing the dressing room and therein the faith of the fans. In my opinion we should go with our first XI vs Bayern and look to do everything in our power for victory. If for any reason this doesn’t transpire then we are in a position to rest our more important players for the remaining 3 Champions League games. There’s no way that the likes of Ozil and Alexis will be happy to be left out vs Bayern and it’s for that reason that they were removed with 11 minutes to play vs Watford. Not an ideal amount of rest but it’s just indicative of the fact that Wenger will be looking to play our full strength XI vs Bayern.
The remaining Premier League results didn’t quite go the way we liked but was more or less what was to be expected. City and Chelsea both won and United threw up a surprise 3-0 away win vs Everton. Louis Van Gaal may just have found his preferred XI for the weeks to come. Herrera looked like the oil that United have needed to make the rest of their engine work more effectively. This was following Jurgen Klopp’s debut where we saw a quite different approach from Liverpool. Without the ball they pressed and harried like never before, however as Klopp put it they didn’t quite know what to do when they eventually recovered the ball. A learning curve on the ability of their squad shall we say. Sp*rs fully deserved the 3 points but Mingolet saw to that with some excellent saves to keep it at 0-0. I think Klopp will quickly figure out who he wants to keep around vs who he doesn’t and my guess is that it will be largely down to the players who don’t quite know what to do when the ball is recovered. We’ll keep an eye on that one as it develops.
We have a hugely tough week coming up as Bayern and Everton come to town. Both must wins if we are to keep optimism’s head above water.
Have a great week people.
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