Ozil King of Assists, Gibbs Glows, Debuchy is Back: 8 Positives from NLD

Mesmerizing Mesut - King of Assists!
Mesmerizing Mesut – King of Assists! (thanking The Guardian for picture)

The Spuddies came to the home of football to show us how much progress they have made and that they are ready to fight for the title, or at least a top four finish. We all know that they have a good mini-phase every season, only to implode towards the end of it. Having said that, they gave us a good game based around a physically strong central midfield and a few players who can play more than a bit of football. It was not hard to motivate our players for this one, but with the large number of injuries and a challenging schedule over the last few weeks, it was clear that many were running on their last legs.

It has to be said that the Spuds also had a busy schedule, but missing out on the League Cup 12 days ago will have allowed their players to rest that little bit more. Against Sheffield Wednesday, we lost Ox and Theo and we also played Mertesacker, Cech, Campbell, Giroud and Debuchy; and they played two more big, taxing games after that. Today, Alexis, Campbell, Mertesacker and Cazorla all looked like they were playing one game too many.

For the first thirty minutes it was an even battle, but we were easily beaten by a decent ball by Rose to Kane on their left flank, who slotted calmly past our enormous Petr Cech, after Koz was unable to play him offsite or get back in time to put in a block (not helped by the BFG being out of position, though). This setback had a negative impact on the players as we were unable to fight back during the rest of the first half.

In the second half, we tried to take the game to them and we had a few good chances, with especially Giroud being unfortunate/lacking sharpness to capitalise on these. But the Spuds, to their credit, were able to escape our periods of pressure regularly and be dangerous themselves; and it took some fine saves from Cech to keep the score at 1-0. Wenger took off the knackered Campbell and brought on Gibbsy, who moved to the left wing as Alexis moved to the right. Almost immediately, Ozil found him with a perfectly weighted diagonal cross and Gibbs took his first opportunity, reminiscent of a super-fit, inform Alexis.

Cold of the bench but Gibbsy Glows straightaway!
Cold of the bench but Gibbsy Glows straightaway!

1-1, and now we smelled victory: oh how we wanted to mash those very well cooked spuddies! We fought hard to get a winner but it was also clear that we were grateful to have gotten the equaliser and that we had given a lot to achieve it. The Spuds did everything to not end up losing the game; and a draw was a fair result in the end.

Eight positives from the game:

  1. Ozil’s tenth assist in 11 PL games and sixth in a row: he never plays a bad game for Arsenal, but he is leading the team for us more this season, and he clearly has become a lot more effective with almost an assist per every game. We are lucky to have him and let’s show him (more) appreciation (and that includes you lazy TV pundits – bandwagon heroes)!
  2. Gibbs’ winner was very well taken after great positioning, and I like the impact he had from the start. On another day in which Alexis is not in form and Giroud is not delivering either, we needed players to step up, and Gibbsy did.
  3. Debuchy looked so much sharper than in his previous games. To play his third game in 12 days, after being out for so long, cannot have been easy, but Matthieu was in the zone and defended very well. I loved his passion and pride today.
  4. Cech was a calming influence once again. He has such an aura and his reading of the game and interceptions are so important for the team. He also does not make mistakes often, or has a rush to the head that puts the team in danger. He is making such a difference for us right now and we are lucky to have him.
  5. Giroud gave his all, and although he missed a few decent opportunities, he was in the right place at the right time regularly and that goes a long way for me. I am a huge Alexis fan but he was not in this game at all – Giroud was, but was not able to score this time round.
  6. The Crowd was great and I am really happy we played at home rather than away, given the injuries and team fatigue. The boys needed the home support badly today, and the fans really helped us to get back into the game. Especially, the atmosphere after we equalised was electric.
  7. Wenger’s substitutions: Flamini for Cazorla helped us with getting the balance right again, as the Spuds had dominated us with three physical, defence minded midfielders in the first half. Normally, Santi and the fabulous Coquelin can deal with this, but without Ramsey on the right to add to the midfield axis, and Alexis and Campbell being more attackers than midfielders, we needed to add a bit more steel next to Coquelin. Furthermore, Gibbs for Campbell was a gamble by Wenger, but it worked out very well: miraculously well!
  8. Seeing Arteta on the pitch again. Wenger kept players like Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky to help us see out games (like these) and to give our first players a rest now and again. This season, we have not had much fun out of either Arteta and Flamini, and none out of Rosicky, but getting these players back to their best will be key for the remainder of the season. Welcome back Mr Lego-Hair! 🙂

By TotalArsenal.

21 thoughts on “Ozil King of Assists, Gibbs Glows, Debuchy is Back: 8 Positives from NLD

  • By JGC from previous post:

    TA and 17,

    good result from what little I have seen so far. Anyway, sounds like we could’ve stolen it too. My main takes so far:

    a. We miss some speed, Gibbs perhaps brought it with speed + fresh legs. We need some recovery time and the coming break may be good chance

    b. Ozil was Ozil, as we Ozil supporters always new, … but, very interestingly, he is now at 10 assists, half way to Henry’s record of 20 for a season, but only 32% of the way through. Long may that last!!! 🙂 … He created 3 very good chances today, we didn’t take but 1, so the draw is “fair” in that sense

    c. In a game we didn’t play well, we still drew with a good, on-form side. This is resilience and toughness we’ve not seen nearly so much in recent years. Doesn’t mean we don’t need to get our defense sorted more going forward, and clear 1-2 injuries (or more!) away.

    Good news is that with 2 whole weeks until next game there is time to get these things sorted and back on track. I liked that I read that Ozil was not selected for Germany’s friendlies as the EPL don’t have a winter break so this is his break now. That will help us too, I think.

    As for the rest of my life, TA and 17, well very very … very busy running two major consortia now. Hence, less appearance here. Family and older son going well, which is good, long may that go on, as well! Otherwise, just the usual. I am in Europe (Belgium again) Nov 18-Dec 6, and, in theory, have a run to Oxford for a day in there. We will see… Get to see games live again, like the 2-1 I saw over Everton while in the states a few weeks back..

    cheers from down here — jgc

  • Good comment, JGC. 🙂

    Yes resilience is a strong point this season, and we had to dig deep. And Ozil was key in not giving up today: he really led the team today, whether he was the captain or not. Fully agreed on the interdull period coming at the right time. With Ozil not being used and Ox and Theo recovering, we might even be able to rest Alexis for a while when he comes back, which I think is needed to avoid burnout or injury.

  • Good to hear all is well with career and family and that you have been able to watch the games regularly. Once you are in Belgium you might want to do a match review for us, if you can find an hour or so to write it. 🙂

  • Well done, TA… Also, I saw–and read–that article before the match this morning. Cheers, though…

    Wenger reported that Santi was experiencing ‘dizziness’ and was at 30%… So, we can blame him, OR, we can say we really missed him today… I’ll go with the latter. IMO, his quick work on the ball and great range of passes–when he’s at full strength–allow us to change the angles and positions on the pitch in a way that very few other players can. He’s our Pirlo…Not today so, as AW also said, we were playing a man down in the first period…

    Add in that Alexis struggled with his basics and Giroud with the missed chances. Like you say, he worked very hard to get them and got zero help from referee Atkinson. Those two won’t get a rest, but hopefully a little change of scene (with their national teams) works to refresh them–or remind them to appreciate the fine service which Ozil and (normally) Santi provide.

    Another positive, I thought, was Le Coq’s performance. Don’t tell Deschamps quite yet, please… Good to see that Flamini and Arteta are healthier and can maybe spell him from time to time… For me, however, we’re not the same without (fit) Santi and Coq bridging back to front…

    Spurs do look strong–at the moment–and should challenge for a top 4 spot. It’s a long season, however, and a lot to ask of their young players. Hopefully we hit them when our squad is a bit stronger (and theirs a bit stretched) in the return fixture…

    That’s all I’ve got for now, but tomorrow is another day… 😀

  • Guys, we should have won the game confortably if Giroud have taken his chances. But it would also have been the other way round if Cech is not in goal.

    The interlull is a good rest time for us, but if Alexis plays in his international matches then we will be back to square one.

    Good fightback to keep level on points with Manc.


  • Thanks 17ht 😎

    A fully fit and buzzing Sanri makes a difference alright, but the same goes for Rambo. I thought Santi played some sumptuous balls in early on, though. Playing with dizziness is no fun though, and I wonder why he or Wenger waited to half time.

  • Apparently, they thought it would go away.

    Dizziness can be a symptom of a more serious problem which, hopefully, is not case with our beard-less Pirlo.

  • Actually, there is a myth (?) that eating a raw spud would give you a fever and raise your body temperature. Some kids here did it in order to avoid school. 😀

  • Hi TA,

    will do when in Belgium, I hope… or at least a post match… Always trying hard anyway! 🙂

    glad you liked the comments. In response to some others, I too had noted AW noting:

    a. Santi was ill, and that really hurts. With speed and thus quick outlets to punish the opposition sorta gone this loss of creativity doesn’t help.

    Finally, I would note that I have to see more, but it sounds like without Bellerin’s “recoverability” (i.e. speed) our defense finds itself surprisingly unbalanced or out of sorts. Interlull should help that hopefully…

    cheers — jgc

  • That would be great, G. 🙂

    Bellerin’s speed and Ramsey’s engine are missed on the right, but neither could have prevented the goal. But yes Hector Vector is an important part of the team.

  • TA

    Are you sure. I recall Bellerins race back to catch Gomis(?), something like a 20m head start… The Sci-fi fan in me was muttering something about rifts in the space time continuum… 🙂

    But, so it goes…

    Cheers — jgc

  • Hahaha, apparently Bellerin is faster on a 40 meter sprint than Bolt during his first 40 meters of his 100 meter world record. So, maybe you are right. 😳

  • Monday morning here…so time to discuss our quarterback (Santi)… Before that, however, I also meant to say that I’m pleased the professor has just been (extra) busy… Indeed, we could use your analysis and perspective around here… Keep it coming…

    Comparing Santi to Pirlo (as I did yesterday) is not quite right… Like Wenger said, he’s our ‘guide,’ not really our quarterback… He’s very two-footed, of course, but generally likes to move play out to our right. Like TA says, with Ramsey and Bellerin missing a lot of stuff was going to die out that way anyhow but it didn’t help that Santi wasn’t there to get the ball over there earlier.

    Speed on the break would have been our friend yesterday as Spurs did absolutely nothing to shut up shop after getting their goal. (This will hurt them in the longer term, as strong and pacy as their group might be…) The truism that the ball moves faster than (any) player cannot be denied, so, without Santi to move it, we weren’t nearly fast enough. Alexis struggling with his touches (and trying to do it all himself…) didn’t help, either… Italy is a different league and Pirlo was brilliant at finding the open player in more static situations and shielding the ball as he received it; Santi, at his best, accelerates our play with his footwork, keeps his head up and then can pass into space for our runners quicker than opponents expect because he can use either foot. No runners (plus no Santi…) = troubles yesterday… Credit to Spurs for recognizing this and going for a 2nd, credit to us for not conceding it and finding a way to get a scrappy goal and the draw.

    Got to get some bodies back over the break and then things should be looking up… 8 matches to go in the first half of the (league) season and, of those, only 2 (Man City and So’ton) are against teams in the top 12…This *should* allow us to protect and rotate our players (a bit, at least) as they return to fitness so that we have a deeper squad for the 2nd half…

  • Morning seventeenho 🙂

    Have some coffee and wash your mouth out and then classify our goal again…. Nothing scrappy about it at all!! 🙂 A classy ball over the top and lots of feeling in Kieran’s foot to guide it past, rather than blast it past, the goalie.

    BTW, I am writing something currently to go out in a few hours. 🙂

  • OK, apologies to Gibb’s shin… 😀

    Ozil’s ball was as good as many others on the day…You would just expect it to be Giroud scoring the goal rather than KG-3… (Lloris will also feel he could’ve stood up taller and kept it out…) Gibbs, I must say, didn’t hide at all as an attacking substitute…

    I’ve also been wrong on a few other accounts and confession always feels good… In the preview I said that Eriksen was a left footer…wrong… Also, above, we’ve got 7 (not 8) matches left to play to complete the first half of the league season… From the bottom half, however, we’ve already played (improving) Newcastle and (bound to be winning, someday, maybe…) Chelsea… so maybe our (relative) advantage is even better… Of course, all matches in England are difficult so we can take nothing for granted, plus a couple of them will be on short rest after those CL matches where AW will want to play our strongest team…

    OK, I feel much better… I’ll take that coffee now… 😀

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