After scoring the winner for us in our last game of the season against West Brom last year – effectively winning us a guaranteed CL-spot – Koz does it again today! What is not to love about Laurent Koscielny at the moment?!
As expected Sunderland and Everton let us down today, but we did not let ourselves down, and that is even more important than qualifying for the CL (well almost).This team has spine and spirit, grit and graft. I am so proud of our boys in red and white today!
An unchanged team seemed a bit of a risk by Wenger, and especially the inclusion of El Zorro was unexpected. Perhaps Arsene valued the psychological benefit of including the Spaniard more than his ootential technical and tactical contributions on the day. Another, semi-surprise was Giroud not starting up-front as most of us had anticipated. Other than that, there were no surprises in Wenger’s team selection.
The game basically had four phases:
- A nervy and disorganised start: we seemed all over the place and play without our usual cohesion and discipline. NU were determined to give us a game and were getting alongside and behind our defence far too easily during this phase. Arteta had to go off, and the Ox made his entrance;
- Things started to change gradually as we got more grip on the game and NU seemed to ease off a bit as well. However, we were hardly creating any chances during this phase and it was clear we needed Arsene to sort the team out during the break;
- The first part of the second half was better again, and we struck lucky when Koz powered Podolski’s assists, from a Walcott free-kick, past Harper from close range. 1-0 to THE Arsenal.
- The remainder of the game saw us play our best football in all areas of the pitch, but as we were unable to score a second – despite Theo coming agonizingly close – it remained a very nervy encounter right till the end.
In the end, there were two things that saw us through: the hunger, grit and graft of the entire team and the outstanding performance of Laurent Koscielny. His goal was no doubt the most important one in an Arsenal shirt, but what also made a real difference was his perfect defensive performance against NU today.
When Koz is in this sort of form he is simply unbeatable. He out-jumped the NU attackers all afternoon, made vital and extremely well-timed interceptions in the box – both on the ground and in the air – and stole the ball of his opponents with incredible hunger and precision – committing hardly any fouls in the process. What a player he is becoming and it goes without saying that Arsene needs to keep all defenders together this summer, and for me that includes Sagna and Vermaelen.
Other than the score (and what it means), and that performance of Koz – and I also thought BFG and both full backs had very fine second half performances – the game will be forgotten quickly: it was anything but a classic.
But the sustained period in which this team has shown the hunger, grit and determination to not get beaten by the Spuds for a top-four finish, after they beat us at the beginning of March and went seven points ahead of us, is just what this team needed. Five PL away-wins in a row – first time since 2004!! – eight wins out of our last ten PL games: what a turn around, and what a solid basis for the new season.
The foundations are laid, the walls are up, the roof is almost finished and the Spuds are stored firmly in the cellar; now let’s add some super quality furniture and polish off what we already have: Arsenal might be gunning for the top prizes next season! 😉
But before we start the silly season, I would like to say a big thank you to all the recent regular players: for their drive and passion and for playing for the shirt with all they had. More we could not have asked for, and they have done us proud!
Written by: TotalArsenal.