After a tough midweek away fixture in France, Arsenal faced a visit from Stoke this weekend. Today was set to be Özil’s home debut and the fans would not be disappointed by what he had in store.
The game today saw Arsenal start out strong but become tired in the second half and start to drag a little, before some late substitutions brought some life back into the game.
One interesting note about our starting line-up today: Theo Walcott was set to start the game on the right wing, before a change was made about 10 minutes before kick off and 18 year old Serge Gnabry made his first Premier League start for Arsenal. From what Wenger said, Theo had an abdominal problem and should be fine.
All three assists today came from our record signing, Mesut Ozil. And surprisingly, we put three goals past Stoke through set pieces! This truly shows how good Özil’s delivery is.
Özil showed off his excellent delivery for the first time today after just five minutes. The German had a wonderful shot from a free kick just outside the box. Begović dove and managed to palm it away, only for the man of the moment, Aaron Ramsey, to fire the rebound coolly into the net.
Then in the 26th minute the Orcs would get lucky. A decent ball was hoofed in the box by Orc #1. Per was unable to keep up with Orc #2 and Orc #2 fired a shot against the post. Had it been on target, Szczesny likely would’ve gotten to it, but it cannoned of the post back to Orc #3, who put it in the net. Not much can be blamed other than Per’s lack of pace. Maybe someone should’ve been tracking Orc #3, but I’ll put this goal down to luck because the ball could just have easily hit the post and gone out, or bounced to Szczesny or anywhere but back to a Stoke player.
Özil would then show his class again, delivering a corner in to Per who flashed it across goal with his head, only for it to be cleared of the line. However, Özil and Per would repeat this in the 36th minute and this time Mertesacker’s looping header would find its way just inside the far post. It was an excellently placed header for the second time that game from our BFG. He looked thrilled to score for the Arsenal again, and it’s always great to see the goals coming from all over the team.
After half time the team seemed to tire. Playing three fixtures in a week really seemed to take its toll, especially on Jack and Aaron. I would’ve liked to see Ryo come on for Jack around the 60th minute to keep the team fresh and to protect Jack from the vicious Stoke players, but the subs would come eventually.
Özil would deliver his final assist in the 72nd minute, again off a set piece. He curled in a cross from the left side if the field and this time it would be Sagna to put a looping header over Begović. As far as I know, this was Sagna’s first goal since he played his part in the first 5-2 against Tottenham. We really need to get that lad signed up on a contract extension, even if he has to make the move to centre back permanently as he ages and his mobility leaves him. He knows the Arsenal style of play and has experience and talent; we really do need to keep him.
The game, once again ended 3-1 to the mighty Arsenal. The only real complaint being that we didn’t keep a clean sheet. However, we are once again top of the league and this time we will stay there.
Szczesny: 7/10; Had a rather average performance. Wasn’t at fault for the goal and did well smothering a low cross late on.
Sagna: 7.5/10; Also had a rather average performance, but did well to score the goal. Still looking solid in old age and needs to be resigned.
Mertesacker: 8/10; Was an animal at the heart of our defense today. Jumped on Jones’ bad touch when he was nearly through on our goal and scored an excellent header to put us ahead.
Koscielny: 7/10; A quiet performance, but sometimes that’s what you want from defenders. Just went about his business, did well to distract Begović on Per’s goal and it’s good to see him being less rash and not giving away penalties.
Gibbs: 6.5/10; Also quiet, but seemed quite tired. Didn’t do much going forward and Flamini seemed to be covering at the LB spot a lot, implying that Gibbs was out of position a bit too often. He did have his moments though.
Ramsey: 7/10; Was in great position to score the rebound off the first free kick, but tired quickly after so many games in such a short time.
Flamini: 7.5/10; Had fantastic distribution and did well covering for the tired Gibbs when he was caught out of position. He continued to show his value to the team and his signing looks to be a stroke of genius.
Özil: 9/10; Had fantastic delivery from set pieces. Four especially notable ones, including the three goals and Per’s first header.
Gnabry: 7/10; Had some good moves down the field. Could’ve been through on one occasion, had Huth not leveled him. Also looked strong defensively. Looked great for an 18 year old and hopefully he gets more chances soon.
Giroud: 7/10; Had a rather average game. Tried an acrobatic effort late on, but really didn’t do much creating chances for others or himself. However, was helpful defensively and won more than a few free kicks.
Wilshere: 6.5/10; Was clearly targeted by Stoke. Had his moments in the first half, but tired quickly and should’ve been taken off sooner.
Ryo: 6.5/10; Came on late for Gnabry. Didn’t do much, but added some pace to the team towards the end and did well to keep the ball in once down the right wing, but had a terrible cross. Overall, needs more time. I expect him to play midweek.
Monreal: 7/10; Shored up our defense at the end. Subbed on late for Wilshere.
Arteta: 7/10; Made his return from injury. Subbed on late for Özil in his more natural attacking midfield position. Will likely play midweek for fitness.
Note: This is my first time doing player ratings, at the request of JB. Please tell me what you think and if you would like me to continue doing this.
For now I’ll leave you with some questions:
- What did you think of the team’s performance today?
- How important is it for Arsenal to sign Sagna to a new deal?
- Do you think Wenger is responsible for the team’s good form and togetherness?
Thanks for reading. 😀
Written by: Dylan.