I missed the first 25 minutes or so of today’s top;three game the Saints. So apparently, I missed our best period of football; but I don’t mind as I liked what I saw in the 65 remaining minutes of the game.
A clean sheet, a mature performance, scoring the second goal to kill off any remaining threat, and looking in control for most of the game was music to my eyes. How long have we been waiting for this sort of maturity: not playing well in terms of attacking football but just being able to see a game out professionally? That is what champions-to-be need.
I thought as a team we worked well, even though one or two individual performances were not at their usual level. But the real strength of a team is measured by its ability to compensate for any individual blips in form, and today we saw good evidence of just that.
You have to give some credit to Southampton, though. It takes some guts to come to the Emirates and just play their football, and at times they dominated us with very good combination and pressing football. In the end, two avoidable mistakes cost them badly and luckily they had these against us…. The Chavs will face a determined, highly motivated team – of that I have no doubt.
Being totally honest about our performance, I felt our midfield missed some necessary cohesion and fluency in their passing. We have some distance to go in terms of getting the likes of Cazorla, Ozil, Arteta, Ramsey and Wilshere to fully gel with each other. But the good thing is we have a solid defence, and against a team like Southampton we naturally sit back a bit more and keep things solid. At home this is not a bad thing as it makes us less vulnerable to counterattacks. In away games we do this regularly and it’s one of the reasons we have done so well on our travels.
Our back-five performance was very impressive and something special is growing between these players. All have made progress this season, even the wily Sagna. And all five players have both strengths and one or two weaknesses, but somehow they have found a way of maximizing their combined strengths and minimizing the weaknesses.
BFG slowness and lack of ‘turnability’ is compensated for by Sagna and Koz’s speed and last-ditch tackling ability. Koz’s occasional hot-headedness needs the BFG’s organisational and calming skills, etc etc.
But special praise should go to the triangle of Szczesny, Koz and Mertesacker, who were as good as impenetrable today. Arteta did not have one of his best games against the Saints, but neither was he awful. Nevertheless, Koz and Mertesacker coped very well with any threat through the middle, which is considerable as there is a lot of strength in Southampton’s midfield.
The team playing deep really seems to suit Koz and Mertesacker, and if they are in control it really helps Szczesny to stay calm and composed as well. I reckon, other than the hard work of the entire team, that’s what won us the game today. They also worked well together when defending corners and free-kicks which was good to see.
If we are going to win the league we will need a solid defence – a solid back five really – and the boys did us proud today. And I reckon there is still more to come.
It is great to see the team bounce back from the Manure defeat straightaway, and that despite not having had much time together during the latest interlull.
Three more points and a more solid position at the top, and plenty of evidence that this team has backbone and belief. Bring on the Frenchies – OGAAT! 🙂
Written by: TotalArsenal.