Alexis out-stings the Hornets, Xhaka and Ozil pure Class, Holding Firm: 8 Positives

Watford 1 – 3 Arsenal

We desperately needed a win more than anything else today. But we also needed to play some very good football the Arsenal way’ to get the supporters properly excited again… and luckily we got both against the Hornets. On top of that we had verbal confirmation that two new players, Mustafi and Lucas Perez, will be added to the squad, so every reason for us Gooners to be happy. And if not you may want to give the Samaritans a call… 🙂

It was of course a game of two halves, to use the nr.1 cliché in football. Arsenal were full of life and brutally lethal in the first the half and we saw out the second half with a few bumps but nothing too drastic. It would have been great if the boys had continued in the second half with the same intent and tempo of the first half, but it was also important to not get more injuries. Therefore, taking the foot of the gas and making some timely tactical changes and substitutions in the second half, was just what the doctor ordered.

Eight positives from a vital win:

  1. Alexis was superb especially in the first half. I love the ‘second’, alternative away shirt the boys wore today and especially Sanchez looked like the mini-hulk in it. Our Chilean firecracker was unstoppable through his movement and aggression all over the pitch. Two assists and a goal are a fantastic return for his efforts but it was also his overall team play that impressed me a lot. Supported by Theo and the less effective Ox on the wings, he offered great movement and availability to which the Watford defenders had very little answer. We will need more end product from the Ox and Theo going forward as Wenger is playing Alexis not like a typical super CF but more of a mixture between Giroud and say Aguero – a combination between hold up play and speedy penetration. The signing of Perez makes a lot of sense therefore, as he will add goals (and assists) on a regular basis, which is needed to make the system a success;
  2. Mesut Ozil scored! He also had the ‘assist’ for the penalty given early in the first half: a superb ball aimed at the space in front of Alexis from which he surely would head the ball home. Alexis was hacked down before he could score and the referee awarded the penalty after some initial confusion on the pitch. Santi took it well and that was a relief to us all. We need more goals from midfield this season and Mesut made a Lampardesque run into the box to head home with venom and precision. Great stuff and let’s hope there will regular goals to come from our midfielders this season.
  3. Xhaka carved the hornets nest open without mercy. I reckon Wenger is building a team that can add a few dimensions to their football. As per my first ‘positive’, we need goals from a number of attackers rather than rely too much on the one super CF. But we also need key passes and assists from a number of players, and playing Xhaka, Cazorla AND Mesut clearly gave us that. Xhaka did this regularly from deep, allowing us to attack with speed and precision and not give the Watford defence a lot of time to regroup. Some of Granit’s through-balls and diagonal thunderbolts were sublime today, getting the balls into the pockets like the best snooker player…
  4. Arsenal played a very attack minded formation today. I cannot remember the last time we played with so many quality, attack-focussed players: Xhaka sat deep but was constantly feeding our attackers; Santi sat also deep(er) but was mainly focussed on attacking Watford, and then there were the foursome of Ozil, Ox, Theo and Alexis attacking relentlessly, whilst being supported from behind by the Spaniard and Swiss geniuses! On top of this the full backs, especially Bellerin, kept bombing forward to support the attack. As a result, we saw an awesome black and yellow attacking machine, especially in the first half. Theo played with aggression and intent and produced a peach of an assist for Alexis’ goal – the all important second goal for us.
  5. Good substitutions. Of course such an attacking formation only works well if the tempo is high and we manage to keep our opponents hemmed in in their own half. In the second half we dropped the tempo and discipline a bit and gradually we allowed them back into the game. We sat too deep and allowed them to have players in and around the box and this led to a number of half-chances for the Hornets. They scored a typical ‘lucky pinball goal’ for which I cannot blame the defence too much. But after that we allowed them more chances and looked a bit vulnerable at times. Luckily, Wenger had good options on the bench and gradually both Jack and Elneny were able to bring a bit more calm and control back in to our play. It was really good to see Jack back on the pitch and let’s hope we will gradually see more and more of him. Elneny was great – what a player!
  6. Cech was solid. He made some good instinctive saves and oozed confidence and calm in our defence. Nothing more to say about him.
  7. Holding and Koz had another good game and could have had a clean sheet if a little bit more lucky. Our young England CB looked in control throughout the game and his height and strength were great assets today. Wenger will have to decide whether to keep playing him for a while and then introduce Mustafi gradually or to establish the French-German CB pair asap. I am really pleased for Holding and I hope he will get twenty of game time this season.
  8. The final ‘positive’ is for Wenger. He has had to work hard to get the signings he wanted and he has succeeded. There was also a lot of pressure on him to win this away game and he delivered in style. I have said before that we should make the first proper analysis of our chances to win the league after ten games, and I now believe we have everything in place, bar a lot of bad luck on the injury front, to fight for three points in every game and push upwards in the table. Let’s see where we are in a few months time.

Happy Interdull! 🙂

By TotalArsenal.

18 thoughts on “Alexis out-stings the Hornets, Xhaka and Ozil pure Class, Holding Firm: 8 Positives

  • in my opinion thats was a great lecture….the writer did me justice for the indepth yesterdays game analysis.

  • Yesterday’s game made me realise that Perez Alexis and Theo can swap positions and torture the opposition.

    So, though it is sad to see Ox potentially dropped for Perez, it is good to see a pacy striker coming to our club.

    Good game yesterday and good to see questions answered.


  • It is not all positives. Let us see the negatives: 1. We did not play suberb football 2. We accepted tremendous pressure in the 2nd half 3. We lack the quality of other top teams 4. We still have not the top scorer like others do 5. We still have problems at defence

  • Andreas

    1. What can I say?
    2. Yes, covered under point five..
    3. Rubbish, we have the best squad together with MC
    4. We have four quality strikers and scored six in three already
    5. We are getting there

  • Agree with the points TA, Andreas come on mate you can’t be serious! Fitness permitting yesterday’s furst half performance could have been carried on and it might have been an even bigger scoreline. But credit where its due Watford played with heart as we struggled to maintain our threat from the first half amd they capitalised on that. It’s only a matter of time before the players will be up to scratch, and call me optimistic but im really excited about how this team can develop. This isnt just based on blowing a relegation candidate team away for 45 mins, its based on the exciting looking attacking outfit we have when everyones back fit. Xhaka to me is looking like the midfielder we’ve needed for years, and holding at the back will only improve and his only 20! Listen i could go on about for a while but ill cut it short now, I’m just gonna let this season surprise me, my feelings are at the mo that we will have a battle with man u, man c amd chelsea for the title as they all have looked good, but lets not forget its early days and form is temporary on this league sometimes! And lets not rule out sp*ra and liverpool! Anyway great post again TA, how the hell are we gonna survive without proper football for 2 weeks! 😔

  • Well I thought that was well up there with our other ‘8 positives’ posts TA.
    I cannot disagree with any of the choices either. Cheers.

    I was all set to jump on you if you went overboard on the Alexis as ‘Plan B CF’ – ‘After one game, after just one game, he is the alternative to Giroud! Give us another 9 games and make a proper judgment ‘ … Ha ha, well done for side-stepping that one 😀

    He did have a very good game, certainly in the first half. But I thought the format was more a case of Ozil playing as a ‘false 9’, with Walcott and Alexis either side. Then you had Bellerin and Ox providing the extra width, and Cazorla supplying the deeper creativity? At least that is where the success came from, because I only saw Alexis get the better of the defenders once when he started from a central position. That was late on when he nicked the ball off Kaboul? You might get half a point for the foul which led to the penalty, but even you would admit that he was outjumped and the foul unnecessary?
    However, the interchange from wider was excellent, and the second and third goals were well worked moves.

    I think the reason why were were not so good in the second half was because Ox faded early on. He plays really well for an hour, but he loses that intensity, and that is when he should have been subbed, imo, naturally. It allowed them to attack Monreal’s side with greater success, and crosses kept Bellerin back too.. This in turn meant Cazorla was playing deeper to defend, so long balls up field were left to Alexis and Walcott to chase down, often without any other support once Ozil was subbed?

    All in all they deserved the win. I got irritated with the ‘Player commentator for picking on the ref for talking to players, and the Watford bench, because under the new rules we could easily had two or three yellow cards that were not given, and the Watford manager sent to the stands.

    However, 3 points and the 8 positives is all I ask for on a Sunday morning.

  • T A I have supported your blog for quite a while know and whilst I don’t always agree with you I acknowledge your sound knowledge of Arsenal Fc, football in general etc. In Short you are a well respected guy. And then in one slip of a sentence you ruined it all.

    You loved that kit!!!!! Arrrrrrggggggghhhhh

  • Morning Total, I can’t lie, sometimes I think you do damned well to produce a post with 8 positives, but I have to agree with your post today, it was a very good all-round performance, from Cech’s goalkeeping to the finishing, and with a tad more composure and technique Walcott and AOC could, and probably should, have lobbed the goalkeeper making the score even more emphatic.

    I only saw extended highlights but we seem to be perfecting a kind of pressing game that could take us very close to honours this season.

    Watching MotD yesterday evening, I thought that Chelsea look very very strong, our fixture with them on Sept 24th is going to be a superb match-up.

  • Retsub

    Haha, yes I loved the kit. I am a big believer in colours that intimidate and black is very powerful in difficult away games. We looked like a ninja machine 😀

  • Gerry, well done for acknowledging that plan B worked really well. Alexis was the false nr9 as well as central holding CF. he was awesome.

    I thought Ox was not involved for almost his entire time on the pitch.will write a post about him soon.

  • Cheers Wayne, I felt good about the season and feel even better now. With the two new arrivals we have a fantastic squad of players that can go for all the prices. Agreed, next two weeks will be tough. Where are you based, Wayne?

  • Yes Kev, the pressing was impressive and the tempo was killing the opposition. At times our passing was at the very highest level. We blitzed the hornets in the first 45 minutes and then showed mercy.

  • T A. Not to split hairs, but I think it’s actually a deep blue. Joking aside, I can’t understand why they would wear a kit of similar colours to Watford. I suspect sponsorship gone a bit to far

  • Overall the side played well though Ozil and Cazorla were notably less creative in attack than usual (with only one key pass each).

    I thought Xhaka and Cazorla were a strong screen in front of the defence (with 4 tackles and 2 interceptions and 3 tackles respectively) and Walcott and Sanchez were energetic and effective in attack (with 2/3 and 3/3 accurate shots on goal).

    The Ox’s place on the left wing maybe in jeopardy for the next match versus Southampton due to his poor output versus Watford (1 off target shot and 2 successful dribbles) and with Ramsey soon to be fit again and Perez arriving shortly.

    In defence Bellerin and Monreal both need to increase the accuracy of their crosses (only 1 accurate cross between them), particular Bellerin as that is his advantage over Debuchy who is superior defensively to the young Spaniard. Cech, Holding (9 clearances) and Koscielny (13 clearances) should be safe for the next match versus Southampton with strong showings versus Watford and with Mustafi likely to be short of training practice.

  • Scintillating first half. I suspect they have to improve the efficiency of their pressing so as not to be expending too much energy. Note that our performance has been dropping dramatically in our 2nd halves. When this has been fine tuned we will surely be the team to beat.

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