Sometimes it is best to sleep a night over a game of football. On a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning it is easier to reflect on a game that was hard on the eye and tough for the heart, but THE RESULT still left us with a good after taste. And the latter – just like the better coffees and wines do – is still lingering on this morning.
Three points and a first win at Loftus Road in seven attempts makes the head nod sagely: 1-0 to the Arsenal is all we needed. Some will point out the need to boost our GD, but that is simply wishful thinking at the moment. Our team is running at its last legs and somehow just keeps scraping the barrel for more.
Since Arsene decided to put Arteta and Ramsey together in the double DM-pivot, and swap TV5 for the more organised and composed Koz, we have, as predicted, both become a lot more solid in defence and gradually more and more toothless in attack.
In our 4-2-1-3 formation the box-to-box midfielder holds the key for creating a fine balance between defending and attacking, and only a fit Diaby or Wilshere can truly make this formation tick as per the Wengerball ideology.
With Ramsey we get a hard and disciplined worker and he and Arteta deserve a lot of credit for our recent mean defensive record. Of course, this will not be enough in the long term. Wenger put into place his plan-B to get us back in the CL next season, and for me he is showing once more that he can play Mourinho-like football if he needs to.
But boy is our football hard to watch at the moment, as we dither and probe through the middle all day long, looking like our attackers have never played together before. Pod looked like running around with inflated testicles, Cazorla and Theo totally allergic to sticking to traditional wing-play, and Rosicky was simply not central/domineering enough.
Yet, in the first half we dominated so much that we should have added to Theo’s super-early goal. When in it the box, Theo tends to shoot at goal as soon as he can, without taking another touch, and it paid off for him straightaway. The keeper should probably have done better, but Theo gave him very little time to set himself up properly, and looking into the glaring sun will not have helped Green much either.
Theo was also a wee bit unlucky with another fine, direct attempt on goal in the first half which Green pushed onto the post, and he had another such an attempt saved in the second half. Theo, unlike the Pod yesterday, got himself in good positions in the box and made the keeper work, and his goal made all the difference yesterday. Does this mean he should play centrally more often, though? Aah, let’s discuss! 🙂
Arteta played one of his best games of the season with fantastic positioning, great interceptions and more than adequate distribution, including a fine, and priceless assist for our one and only goal. I loved his physical strength and sheer desire to fight for these crucial three points: he was a true captain for us yesterday. The Basque beast simply ruled the game against the Hoops!
Another big plus point – you must have noticed by now I am mainly looking at the plus points – was our composure and organisation in defence. The triangle of Szczesny – BFG – Koz is quickly developing into something very solid, and that is at least one of the big positives from our current season. Arsenal must ensure we keep them together for next season, and not be tempted to cash in on any of them.
The BFG’s composure and organisational skills are of great value to us, and Koz’ timing, energy but also his positioning and composure, combine really well with the German’s strengths and weaknesses. Add to that a mature and controlled performance of our goal keeper – making good saves (one against Remy was simply excellent) when required – and you can see why we are proving hard to beat at the back at the moment.
In fact, our defensive away record has been very good this season, conceding only 14 goals in 18 PL games: far better than anybody else in the PL. This will probably pan out to be our saviour this season in terms of CL qualification.
Nacho had a tough game against the only player who really cared, Townsend (I wonder what was motivating him hahaha). However, he did get forward and behind the Hoops’ defence once or twice, and that appeared to be the only way to create some danger during large parts of the game. Sagna had a decent game, but once again, he got little support on the wing going forward – often left alone with the ball with nobody anywhere near to set up an attack from the wing.
The negatives in a nutshell (nothing new really): ineffective wingplay for most of the game, attackers and midfielders not linking up properly or finding each other – no collective telepathy – too many players needing too much time (touches) to take their chances, no physical – and limited aerial – presence in the box, and not creative enough.
But our defensive triangle in the centre, our double DM pivot, and an improving Walcott saved the day for us. And there are ten days now to get some much-needed new content into the barrel.
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Written by: TotalArsenal.
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