Sexy football is back, baby!
Frustratingly, I had to travel back from London last night and was not able to watch the game. The only thing I had was my blackberry on which I could read comments on my own site but not respond (for some reason), as well as regular updates on the BBC website.
I could gather from the comments how well we were playing and that made it even harder to only have written words of the good guys’ performances, whilst others were getting the Full Monty at the ground or on TV.
I was able to watch ‘the highlights’ on ITV later on, and although they did not give our game much time, I could gather what a special night it has been at the Home of Football.
I know the footie statisticians focus a lot on goals and assists, but it is about time we start to measure ‘penultimate assists’ as well. The big question for me is: where does a goal originate from: is it the assist maker and/or the one who starts the attack? Ultimately, a goal is a combination of actions on and off the ball and most goals are scored as a result of efforts by a number of players.
Last night, Ozil was praised to heaven for a very, very fine performance in the first half. His goal was simply Bergkampesque and so was his assist for the second one. It is impossible to over-estimate what this German footballing Genius is adding to our team right now, and that at half the money of Bale muhahahaha!
Ramsey’s assist was also Bergkampesque in terms of vision and accuracy, and this guy – the ultimate professional footballer – deserves all the credit he is getting currently.
But last night was also a great demonstration of the importance of our Big Fecking Frenchman: Ollie Giroud. He produced both penultimate assists and without him and his actions both goals would not have happened: it is as simple as that. I have been stressing for quite a while that Ollie is not just a classical nr.9; he is far more important than that to the team. His hold-up play and ability to play with his back to the goal, combined with his energy and his permanent goal threat, is absolutely pivotal to our system of football.
If Giroud had not scored yesterday, he might not have had much recognition for his contributions. Luckily, he did score which is good for him and us, but what matters even more is that he was at the very basis of both our goals last night.
His control and body strength, combined with good touches and pass, allowed Ramsey to penetrate the Napoli defence and have space and time to both spot Ozil and deliver an accurate pass to our nr.11. This was absolute sublime ‘holding forward’ football and without it Ramsey would not have had the time and space to produce his classy assist, and Ozil would not have been put in a good scoring position.
The second goal was another example of Giroud’s wider importance to the team. He was helping out with our pressing game and not just hanging around the box for ‘an opportunity coming his way’. The pressing let to him receiving the ball; he controlled it well, passed it to king of assists and then burst into the box himself. Ozil found him with sublime precision and our big Frenchman was rewarded for all his efforts with a relatively simple ‘blast-in’. Another fine team goal and another fine penultimate assist by OG.
Although his goals and direct assists are very important, his other contributions are just as important to the team. I reckon OG is the sort of striker we will see a lot more of in the future, although they might be hard to find. I reckon Chelsea and to a lesser extent Man City, who have Negredo and Dzeko, are crying out for a holding striker of Giroud’s pedigree, and the same goes for many other teams in the PL and Europe who want to play 4-2-1-3 or 4-5-1.
It might also explain why Dortmund did not allow Lewandowski to leave them this summer, as he is probably the finest holding forward around. The Pole is as pivotal to Dortmund as Giroud is to us, and I predict that not only the former but also the latter will become big transfer targets this summer. Not that we will let him go, no way Jose!
All ingredients for another feast of Wengerball football this season are here. Ozil and Ramsey, but also Flamini and Mertesacker, and many others deserve all the praise they are getting, and so does our mobile rock up-front, our beacon, our lighthouse, our linchpin, our giant of a holding forward.
Written by: TotalArsenal.
Gerry produced a fine morning comment that should be read by a wider audience, so I have added it to today’s post:
So, the first 15 minutes. None of that cagey stuff I talked about pre-game. Instead, some of the finest, crispest, passing for such a long time I think we were beginning to think that that side of our game had gone? The grab an early goal and defend in numbers was fantastically left behind in this half.
Sagna – the times he slipped the pass along the line where there was barely room was amazing. He was on very good form, and didn’t he enjoy it?
Ramsey – whether playing tight one-twos or playing down the wing, switching play, tackling .. It was all the same. Probably one of his best displays without scoring. Brilliant!
Flamini – how did we ever manage to do so well without him? Right man in the right job, and invariably in the right place. Of all the missing pieces in our team, he has to be one of the best? Drove the play forward at pace when he wasn’t ‘Johnny on the spot’ defending.
Ozil – what can you add that has not been already said? Truth be told, he himself added a whole lot more with this display? His goal alone should be on Walcott’s I-pad on a continuous loop – the timing of his run was immaculate. When Ramsey reached the byline Ozil had only just left his marker about 10 yards inside their half, but running into space. Ramsey is so hot-wired at the moment that he saw the space … the SPACE(note Theo!) and not the fully marked Giro in the box. He then played the perfect ball accordingly. Ozil reached the point where their trajectories would meet and played the simplest of first time shots with his instep into the bottom left hand corner.
That was just the finish it deserved. Others added to it along the way.
Rosicky – I am so disappointed that he has hardly got a mention in a report I read elsewhere, other than to say he ‘tired in the 2nd half’. I am not sure that this display would have been possible without him in the side. True, he did not lay on the perfect assist, or score a sumptuous goal. But what he did, and always does, is drive the play forwards. He passed the ball quickly, whether on the left or right, up front or on the edge of our box. This on his first game back from injury, and the first alongside Ozil. He may get overlooked a star of this game, but don’t think for one minute he did not play his part.
Giroud – I predicted his intelligence would help him connect well with Ozil, and it did in this game. It was Ozil this time that got to the goal line and somehow got the ball through a narrow gap between defenders and keeper for a simple tap in. However, when players are moving around him, his nod downs and quick flicks really do show off his skills to the full. I said early this season that he is like a lighthouse, a beacon from where the team know where they are .. and here it with this illuminating display?
I sought of skipped past Arteta’s contribution as I concentrated on the moves going forwards. He was his usual solid self. I did not see him going forward much in the first half, but Flamini was allowed to because he was there.
Again, not a lot to say about Szcz, Per, or Kos, as they had little to do, but what they did was solid enough.
Gibbs was not used so much in attack, as the right flank was getting most joy. It did not stop him making himself available though, which meant when he was having his one-two’s down the line it opened space for the others in the middle. However, his defending was questioned more than once. There was one occasion in the first half where he was not close enough to Insigne and allowed him a shot on goal, but shot wide. This was something happened, according to the audio, in the 2nd half too. And on each occasion it was down to Gibbs making the ‘right’(imo) decision to not allow the right back a free run in behind, but it is a fine line when trying to cover two players at the same time. If he tracks their wide player coming in, somebody should either take over so he can mark the overlap, or somebody else go wide? Gibbs is quick, but even he cannot be in two places at once? For the most part of the first half Flamini was there, with Rosicky tracking back. In the 2nd half when Wilshere came on for Rosicky it seemed to make the problem worse? Either the two are not communicating well enough, or Wilshere is a tad slow in reading the options?
And that folks is the nearest I can come to the report on performance. The match was decided by AW’s tactics to go all out from the off, so he gets top credit. But the players did all that was asked and then some.
This is why we are more likely to attract top players, whether next January or in the summer, as the video of this game gets spread around. Not only are we a top club, we have the players to match.
Written by: Gerry.