Jack and Santi pull the strings, all our attackers on the score sheet, a secure Pole in Goal, and much more.
It was great to see Thierry and Sol together attending the match, and the collective singing of Arsenal supporters at the start of the game was an absolute joy too.
It has been said many times in the last few days: this was a game Arsenal had to win, and win we did!
We will never know whether we would have won so comprehensively if hothead Adebarndoor had not been so reckless against the smallest man on the planet – let alone Arsenal; but that’s not for us to worry about.
The sending off was deserved, and of course it made a big difference to the outcome game.
However, Arsenal were 1-0 down when the Togolese was sent off, and there would have been every reason for the Spuds to lay siege in front of their goalie, and fight with their lives to not concede a goal during the entire game. With Sandro and Huddlestone in the centre of their midfield and a half-decent CB-couple, they would have had a chance to survive an Arsenal onslaught. But, for whatever reason, the Spuds did not keep their lines tight, and Arsenal were fully able to profit from it.
Arsenal managed to score five goals from the described above scenario, and a lot was down to us dominating the midfield – after a bit of a rugged start – and using the flanks really well. The team did us proud and Arsenal can now build further on this fine win.
All in all, I saw five improvements/positives and two setbacks/negatives.
I will start with the setbacks.
Quite surprisingly, the Spuds targeted regularly our right-back area, rather than mainly focussing on the left-back area; where Arsenal have been most vulnerable this season. Vertonghen’s ball over the top for their first goal was a clever move by the Spuds and both Sagna and Mertesacker should have anticipated it; but they did not. And they were also too slow to react to the situation that ensued: Szczesny did brilliantly to make a safe, and the rebound should have been for one of our defenders. Instead, it was Adebarndoor who was there first.
Arsenal almost conceded a third goal from our right-back area once again; when Bale was not dealt with properly and he was allowed to move into our penalty box. Had he not been selfish, and passed the ball to Defoe instead of shooting at goal from a tight angle, the final score could have been very different.
Sagna and Mertesacker will have to work hard to get a better understanding between each other in the next few weeks, but they are both fantastic defenders and I am sure they will sort it out between them.
Shielding our defence by our central midfielders has been an issue recently, and once again we failed to do so today. For the second goal, Bale could move towards the area in front of our ‘D’ with ease, as Arteta was caught out of position – he was too high up the pitch – and the Welshman was able to shoot unhindered, despite Koscielny’s last ditch attempt to throw himself in front of his shot.
I noticed the same problem in recent games against Norwich (which led to us conceding a goal), and in the second half of our recent away game against Schalke 04 (but that time Arsenal got away with it). Arsenal will need to work really hard on protecting the back-four better.
Szczesny back in goal was a big improvement. Wojcieh looked happy and healthy in his bright yellow outfit, and the rest of the team looked a lot more confident with him behind our back-four.
Arsenal’s attackers are not just hitting the net more now; they are also working together a lot better. This newfound collaboration was epitomised by our fourth goal. Giroud wins a header and Theo is ready to move forward with the ball; he passes it perfectly weighted to the Pod; who crosses the ball beautifully towards the right hand side of the pitch; where Cazorla puts the ball coolly past the flabbergasted Frenchman. A super team goal, and with goals by Cazorla, Theo, Giroud and Podolski today, we can definitely say that our goal machine is starting to purr properly now.
The central midfield combination between Cazorla and Wilshere made another step improvement today. They are starting to find each other a lot better, and shared the ‘play maker’ role between them throughout the game. When Jack moved forward to pull the strings, Cazorla would become another attacking player; and when Cazorla was orchestrating our attacks, Jack often sat a bit deeper. I bet, with a bit of luck in terms of fitness, we are going to see at Arsenal over the next few years, one of the best central midfield partnerships in Europe.
Today, our crossing into the box was a lot better than usual, especially from our right wing. The partnership between Theo and Sagna is starting to resemble that of last season, when Arsenal were so lethal from the right. Theo was brilliant today, despite a couple of fluffed opportunities. His cross into the box for Mertesacker’s equaliser was simply sublime, and his semi-assist for our fourth goal showed another good side of Theo; but the crowning on a great performance was his killer-cool finish for our fifth goal.
I thought the way Arsenal saw out the game during the last ten minutes was great. Of course, this was made a bit easier for us by the Spuds having only ten players left on the pitch, as they were simply too knackered to chase the ball for long. Nevertheless we did well to play the ball round, and keep our shape and discipline till the final whistle.
A great and much needed win, and with Everton, Chelsea and MU losing, it has been a very good Saturday for the Gunners. Let’s hope we can build on this further with a great performance against Montpellier on Wednesday.