How much did we need that result on Saturday? Yes, our win against Liverpool was impressive and had raised our hopes that Arsenal would come good again, but two goals in three games, having drawn blank twice against Sunderland and Stoke, made it hard to predict how this game would go. I had predicted – and hoped for – a win by either 1-0 or 2-0, not more than that; and so, to end up with scoring six and conceding one against the seemingly unburdened Saints, came as a bit of a very welcome surprise to me.
Incredibly, Arsenal now have the best goal difference in the PL (+7) and have moved into third position in the table, two points behind Chelsea and just one point behind MU. Arsenal is on equal points with Manchester City, who despite playing well against Stoke, dropped two valuable points at the Britannia just like we did a few weeks ago.
It is all setting up perfectly for Sunday. A draw at this stage would not be bad for either team, but a win would properly kick-start the season for us as much as them.
The games both teams will play in the CL midweek could have a large impact on how they will turn up on Sunday, both in terms of having their best players available and the level of collective confidence with which they will start the game. Arsene Wenger is in a position to rest a few key players against Montpellier, but Mancini has no such luxury, despite the superior strength in depth of his squad. MC’s away game against Madrid, a team in great need of a positive result – which means trashing an opponent – will mean he has to select his best team possible. This could go either way though, and if they manage to get a result against Madrid, we better be extra-prepared!
Looking back at the game against the Saints, there is good reason to go into the Montpellier and MC games with plenty of confidence, though. How good does it feel to now finally have a well-drilled and effectively shaped defence? Dennis Bergkamp was always keen to praise the virtues of the solid back-five behind him, without which he and other more attack-minded players would never have been able to become as successful as they all did.
It is all about a healthy balance between a mean and lean defence and attack-minded football, and although it is still early, it really feels Wenger and Bould have created the perfect mix. How many times in life, and especially in business, have we witnessed a manager selecting an assistant who is just like them and/or will be totally happy to follow his/her lead without any fuss? Far too often is my view. Good managers look for assistants and team members who can complement them and will challenge them at times; who have a skill set that will address perceived weaker areas in their own talents and abilities. It really looks now that Bould is able to complement Arsene in a superb way, and more than any signing this season, Bould’s appointment is the one we should celebrate most.
Except for a handful of minutes at the end of the first half, prior to the Saints’ goal, I felt so reassured and calm with regards to our defence, and long may it continue!
It is such a human trait to deal with such a great game and result as we had on Saturday by looking for things to pick at; and the obvious candidate this time is our Pole in Goal. Yes, he was at fault for the goal, although Jenkinson’s positioning did not help much either. Yes, his redistribution was very poor on more than one occasion. But, it was his first game in three and all good goalkeepers make mistakes once in a while.
Let’s hope Wojciech will remain confident in his ability and that he can improve his redistribution drastically over the next few games with the help of the coaching staff. It will be interesting to see what Wenger will do with Szczesny and Manone for the next two games, taking into account Arsene’s statement that both goalies are now equally competing for the nr1 spot. I have a feeling he will start with the Pole against Montpellier and might play Manone against City on Sunday.
There are so many positives to take from our game on Saturday: Mertesacker’s positioning and intelligent anticipation; Gibbs’ strength and confidence leading to two OG’s by the Saints, the partnerships between the BFG and TV, Arteta and Cazorla, Gibbs and the Pod, the back-four, etc, but the one positive that stood out most for me was Gervinho’s fine performance.
We already know that he is fantastic at running at opponents with the ball, getting to the by-line and passing the ball dangerously into the box. We, rightly, criticised him for running into blind corridors at times and for not being a good finisher. One swallow does not make summer, but on Saturday his running, with or without the ball, was phenomenal. He was simply unplayable and could be found attacking the opposition from both wings as well as from within the box. For the first goal, Gervinho was ready to tap the ball in, and it was just great to see him there – even though Gibbs decided to shoot himself and we were a bit fortuitous with the enforced own-goal. On top of that, the Gerv showed some healthy selfishness this time and he took his two goals very well.
I am really hoping Gervinho can build on this game for a long time. This season is make or break for him and yesterday’s superb performance is just what the doctor ordered for him. Would it not be wonderful, if Gervinho would outperform the fat Gallic heater of garden furniture on Sunday?!
One thought on “Weekend review: many positives but Gervinho’s stellar performance stood out most”
As you can see Total, I`m bored and thought I`d be the first to comment on this post !. hahaha
Fat Gallic heater of garden furniture !. hahaha