Five conclusion from a faith-restoring victory over Bayern.
The boys did us proud tonight – I am absolutely delighted with their performance. If this team had been playing together for a while longer and we had just a bit more quality up-front, we would even have nicked it.
Our first priority is to get the defensive side of our football right; then we always have a chance, because we know how to play footie and score goals. The difference in performances of our defence during our home and away game could not have been much bigger. We hardly gave away any space behind our defence and between defence and midfield tonight, and were confident in the air and on the ground. Koscielny was superb and his pace and energy gave Mertesacker a chance to organise the defence, and focus on his own positioning. The full-backs were magnificent, especially Jenkinson did us proud. They had drive and passion, speed and strength, and helped out up-front as well. Their performances give us real hope of what could be in the future. Fabianski did everything right and did not flap once. I also really liked his verbal communication skills and willingness to give his fellow players an ear full when they deserved it.
Achieving a clean sheet against, and at, Bayern is a fantastic achievement by our ‘back-five’.
Arteta and Ramsey did a great job defensively in front of the back-four. Yes, there were a few bad clearances, especially by Arteta at the start of the game, and some of the passes were not sharp enough, but they worked hard and denied Bayern space in the centre of midfield. Unfortunately, it meant that Rosicky remained isolated up-front a lot, but at least Ramsey tried to support him as much as he could; and it is exactly how we managed to create the first goal. Of course this will remain the seemingly eternal dilemma for us: 4-3-3, as in 4-2-1-3 or 4-1-2-3, can either make us too defensive or too attacking, and we need the right balance of players/skill-set to get it exactly right. We switched to 4-1-2-3 in the end, when Cazorla replaced Ramsey by moving towards the middle, and it almost worked out for us.
A big minus point of Arteta was his inability to keep his composure towards the end, leading to him giving away a number of avoidable free-kicks, which allowed Bayern to simply see out the game.
Cazorla’s drive, overview and composure was magnificent tonight. He was at times absolutely faultless and never was in hiding throughout the night. For me, he was the best player on the pitch tonight – Jenkinson and Koz were not far off either, though – and what a player Arsene has signed with him. On the other hand, Rosicky had a rusty night of football; plenty of hunger and willingness, but not much came off and he often lost out in the one-to-ones with the Bayern midfielders. However, he was often left isolated, and he did not play often in our team this season; which caused a number of his passes going astray.
We lacked that bit of extra quality up-front to properly finish off Die Lederhosen tonight. Theo put a few great crosses into the box – one leading to the first goal – but he faded in the second half; and his partnership with Giroud is still not working out properly. Giroud scored the goal and worked his socks off, but (still) lacks composure and physical strength; just that little bit extra that would make him a great rather than a good striker.
The entire team was well organised, very focussed and disciplined, and played with great passion. After a number of negative, and often humiliating results recently, the boys did us more than proud. We probably were too defensive for too long of the game to complete the miracle, but it was the best strategy for us on the night.
As per the start of this blog, if this team had played longer together, and had a bit more quality up-front as well, Arsenal could have completed the turnaround tonight. Alas, it was not to be.
I reckon this unexpected, and almost heroic away-win will do us a world of good. Our next game is away against Swansea and there is every reason to play the same back-five and same ‘double DMs’ as tonight again. It would be great if Podolski returns to the team against The Jacks and Cazorla can replace Rosicky in the middle. I would start Giroud centrally again, but maybe give the Ox or Gervinho a start on the wing instead of Theo.
Tonight, Arsenal regained tremendous confidence and our reputation in Europe, and at home, has been restored a bit again. A real shame we did not make it through, but we simply left ourselves with too much to do after our disappointing home game against the Germans.
However, as this is a painful and necessary transitional year for Arsenal, it is victories like these that will help us to gradually get back to the very top again. A couple more players of real quality this summer and we should be able to go all the way.
Written by: TotalArsenal.