We’ve had a quite outstanding week as Arsenal fans this week. Beating Watford away, beating Bayern at home and finally rounding it off with a 2-1 victory against a tricky opponent in Everton. I almost expected us to be so knackered from Bayern that a draw would have been on our minds as adequate considering the circumstances. Our approach made me feel as though the thought of anything other than victory, wouldn’t have even crossed our minds. It wasn’t quite as electric as Man Utd or quite as measured against Watford or even Bayern to a certain extent. There was a nice flow and tempo to our play and a couple of hairy moments aside, we definitely looked to be more of a threat. The breakthrough came from a delightful Mesut Ozil pass (quickly running out of superlatives for this incredible man) onto the head of Giroud to make it 1-0. Tim Howard’s decision making ability has recently come under some criticism and I can see why Wenger had gone with Giroud to take advantage of that. I was certain that Walcott would play but it’s just another example of Wenger sticking to his game plan and it actually working when the players are able to pull their fingers out. The second goal came from a brilliant free kick from King Santi and a header from Koscielny. Once again Howard caught in no mans land, something that truly must have been discussed on the training ground in the days preceding Saturday evening. It all looked rosy and Everton never really looked like they could score unless it was us that we’re going to give them the opportunity to do so. And so it transpired…
Oxlade Chamberlain is going to have a good month of games under his belt so long as he can stay fit, but it’s decisions like the one he made yesterday that cause Wenger to not trust him completely. He actually had a great 2nd half and showed character in order to make that happen but his error lead to Everton’s equaliser. The right option for him was clearly to play in Hector Bellerin, for more than the obvious reason. When you lose the ball on the edge of the opposition area they are all ready to spring on the counter, it’s what any team coming to the Emirates would prepare in the week leading up to the game. However if you lose the ball any further up, i.e. in their area, then they all turn their backs to your goal and are in no shape to counter. The Ox found himself on the edge of the area and elected to shoot with 3 players close to him as well as a couple further behind the initial wall. The pass he had on for Bellerin would have turned every one of those players around rather than front facing the situation. That pass would have, at the very least, resulted in us retaining possession from a clearance. At the most it could have been 3-0. Now in the split second no player has the time to asses the situation, but the split second should enable any player to decide the percentage ball unless we’re already ¾ ahead. There was a lot that happened thereafter however so the blame doesn’t solely lay with The Ox. Although he contributed further to the passage of play with a final error that I think caused the goal at the very end point. He tracked Ross Barkley all the way back and intimated to block his first shot/dummy but then stopped following him. This left him only Gabriel to beat, however Gabriel, as most Centre Backs would, presumed that The Ox would track Barkely to the end. He did not. This meant that Gabriel was a little too far away to make a meaningful block and inadvertently deflected into our net to reduce the deficit. You could visibly see Oxlade Chamberlains dismay and he knew that he had heavily contributed to the goal.
Let me make one thing clear, I love The Ox and I really think that he will become a special player for us. However his decision making and focus are two things that will truly need to improve and develop if he’s to take advantage of his potential. He’s got all the traits needed to be a world beater, but to make it at the top level you need to have that killer instinct, that desire, that intelligence and that hunger to do it. Hopefully this month of games will see this element of his game improve and in turn make it difficult for Aaron Ramsey to get back into the team. That’s the sort of headache he should be causing he manager rather than the one that leaves the boss apprehensive about his selection. Time will tell but I damn sure hope he makes it count when he has the chances.
Back to the attitude as a team in general for the game it seemed to be spot on. The way that Koscielny and Coquelin celebrated our goals and he way Gabriel celebrated a tackle on Lukaku late on showed anyone and everyone that we were switched on and more importantly wanted it. Something we’ve so often been accused of lacking, we look now to have the stomach for the fight. Well and truly we should have wrapped up the game with chance after chance going begging. Giroud hit the bar, Ozil hit the post and Flamini headed straight into Howard’s arms when anywhere either side is likely to have been a goal. Everton had their moments too with some scary heart in mouth situations. Lukaku hit the bar and Deulofeu (what a diving twat he is by the way!?) had a shot smartly saved by Cech and the rebound rather impressively bicycle kicked away by Koscielny. Gareth Barry was also sent off late on for his 400th foul of the game. Thankfully it didn’t matter but he does get away with regular fouling (as did Barkley) far too often. The hilarious thing is his surprise and incredulity at being booked and reprimanded for his shithousery.
It all capped off a brilliant weekend of football. We had the opportunity to go top, albeit temporarily, while also being able to laugh at Chelsea. So let’s take a moment to do just that.
I hope you enjoyed that moment. It’s incredible as to what is happening over there. Imagine if this had been Benitez, Ancelloti or Scollari? Or anyone for that matter. They would be well and truly gone. Some fans are calling for his head others are stuck and don’t know quite what to say as to back ‘their man’ to the hilt. I’ve heard talk of being unhappy with failure and wanting to be back amongst the titles etc but they are a club that an age/squad transition needs to be managed. It’s clear that Mourinho isn’t the man for that, nor will he ever be as he doesn’t have that in his locker as yet. The only way he might overcome that hurdle is being allowed to drag Chelsea out of the quagmire they find themselves in and assume some responsibility for it. However the owner is unlikely to allow this and more pertinently, Mourinho won’t want to graft for a long term goal. It’s the conundrum that all money spinning clubs will face year on year until an owner truly loves a club more than they love the trophies. That’s the key. Most plastic fans haven’t quite discovered this yet and as much as we all love trophies the club is the reason we get that feeling. This is something the owners need to adopt if a club is to grow organically but I’m not sure we’ll see that in the near future with short term success being the key motivator.
The following day brought us ‘Derby day’ where the tyne wear Derby delivered exactly what we now expect. Sunderland winning against the form book. Thereafter we saw a quite boring 0-0. Music to my ears as a Gooner but dreadful for all who love the beautiful game. Normally you get one team that doesn’t want to win a game but here we had two. One shot on target each for 90 minutes? Borefest is the word that comes to mind.
All in all a brilliant week and weekend for us. Sheffield Wednesday away followed by Swansea away. I’d happily take elimination from the Capital one cup for 3 points b Swansea but I’m feeling greedy and want both wins! Let’s hope The Arsenal are just as starved as the rest of us.
Have a great week.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.