Arsenal 2 – 0 Bournemouth Afterthoughts
Like many of us, I was not able to go to the game or watch it live on TV. I relied on the BBC website and customary precise in-game comments from 17HT to follow the match. Of course I would rather see the boys in action, but it is also quite fun to picture how the game is going merely from text snippets. Later on I saw the extended highlights on Sky and these confirmed to me to a large extent what I had already imagined.
Arsenal, after a tentative start, played with the gas paddle firmly pushed down: full of energy and desire to go TOTL. We created the perfect storm to shatter the Cherries and it could have been a lot worse for our opponents if the likes of Theo, Giroud and Ox had been wearing their shooting boots.
Having lots of energy and desire can get you far, but on its own it’s not enough. It needs to be supported by a solid, controlling spine and defence, and quality attackers who deliver the key outputs: goals and assists. We all know that when Arsenal combine desire and energy with the considerable qualities within our squad, we can more or less beat anybody on the day.
But we also need somebody who sees patterns in chaos, and who operates in the eye of the storm rather than on the periphery of it.
And for me the key memory of this game will be Mesut Ozil being in his own ‘zen-zone’ while the rest were running wild. Of course this is not the first time that Mesut has been majestic and key to our victory, but I cannot recall many games in which he was so obviously the one superior player.
Mesut has an ability to rise above the game whilst being fully involved at the same time, and this, combined with his superior technical skills and deep desire to play beautiful yet effective football, truly sets him apart from almost every current Arsenal player. Nine scoring opportunities created in one game (one every ten minutes), leading to only one assist, whilst also scoring a goal himself, tell us a lot.
In fact, he was so good that, unintentionally, he made the rest look inadequate on the day, with especially Theo wasting some of the finest balls served by the master. Giroud also should have done better but he at least returned the service to Mesut, who then showed the Frenchman and the rest of the team how to finish a quality opportunity. I have a picture in my mind of Alexis watching the game and being sick of not being on the pitch to devour Mesut’s attacking balls; and I don’t think he will have been the only attacker in the country, and indeed the rest of the world, who would have loved to have been on the pitch with the German producing one exquisite through-ball after the other.
So for me, this game, in a nutshell, was won because we had superior quality on the pitch compared to Bournemouth and we had the desire and energy to make it count, but without our conductor and master creator of scoring opportunities it could have been different.
A successful Wenger team always needs a Bergkampesque player to embody his vision on the pitch, and Mesut is very close to filling the Dutchman’s enormous boots. So let’s bless ourselves that Mesut is a Gunner and he is well on his way to becoming this decade’s Bergkamp for us… and this is something I don’t say easily! 🙂
To keep him at Arsenal long term, the rest of our attackers better step it up and learn to feast properly of Mesut’s service… we don’t want him to think he is wasted at the Home of Football, do we?!
Finally, a special mention should go to Chambers who performed well in an unfamiliar role. Is he a decent option for our DM position? Too early to say but he did not disappoint and played a key role in controlling the midfield for us.