Well that was just what the winter-blues doctor ordered: five cracking goals, a clean sheet, two points gained on both Oiler teams and three on the Saints. It was not all super positive as we failed to add a second goal in a dominant first half and allowed Aston Villa a few half-decent chances at the start of the second half. But once the second goal went in the Villains’ resolve was damaged beyond repair and we then powered on emphatically.
Not much time tonight, but here are my eight positives from the game:
- I loved the maturity of our play, with us sitting deeper and playing compact and disciplined. We even had slightly less possession than the Villains but were a million times more efficient with the ball throughout the ninety minutes. As Keown just pointed out on MOTD, the triangle between Aaron, Le Coq and Santi worked a treat. Together they gave the defence fantastic protection and linked up really well with our attacking three. They all put in a shift and made the vital difference in midfield on the day.
- There is a great spine in the team now: Ospina – Koz/BFG – Coq/Rambo – Giroud: they protect the shape and allow our mobile and creative players to add creativity and attacking flair. A solid, disciplined and cohesive spine is so important to a team and we are looking stronger every week in this respect.
- Ospina is keeping Szczesny out of the team at the moment after another calm and controlled performance. His decision making has been as good as faultless, and the Weimann stop was crucial: a case of good anticipation and energetic and decisive intervention even when he was still ‘cold in the game’ until then. His distribution and long distance link-up play with Giroud was very impressive again, and the CBs seem to really trust him. Bigger tests will surely come but this is a fantastic development for him and Arsenal.
- Bellerin is another example of a fantastic development and another proof of Shakespeare’s ‘oh the sweet uses of adversity’ line. This guy is taking his (surely unexpected) opportunity with all he has got, and his confidence and concentration are very impressive for such a young talent. The icing on the cake was of course his brilliantly placed goal: what a prospect (and poor Chambers will not be sleeping very well tonight…).
- Giroud my MOTM. He was involved in virtually all our attacks, either on the ball or off the ball. He scored the first, produced a peach of an assist for the second, and created the space for Theo to score the third. His link-up play was good again and he battled for the team all over the pitch: a pivotal player in more than one way.
- Ozil and Cazorla were close second MOTM. Ozil for his all-round display, sublimely flicked assist for Giroud’s first, both in terms of quick anticipation and execution, and his vitally important goal (our second); and Cazorla for his fine assists and general, unselfish play: his assist for Bellerin was sweet in more ways than one.
- The BFG was fantastic in defence today, especially towards the end: read the game brilliantly and produced a fine number of interceptions and clearances. And he almost had a rare assist with a brilliant cross in the box for Akpom. Sit deep, protect the BFG and he will honour his name. Koz and Monreal also had fine games.
- We have given the Villains such a big spanking that they will be in total war-mode when the Chavs come and visit. I expect them to get something from the Southern Oilers – This PL season might not be over yet. 😉
These are my big eight positives but I am sure there are more… And will Arsenal still sign someone before the TW closes, and if so: who?
Let’s be having you. 🙂