Well that was a lot better from the mighty red and white boys. Except for a couple of minutes in the second half, the team was in control of all areas on the pitch. Slim Sam Shady will not have expected much and his new team were poor throughout the game, but we were set up to beat them properly and so we did – even though a couple more goals would have been nice and most definitely deserved. With all our main competitors for the title except Man City winning this weekend, and the despicable Spuds leapfrogging us earlier in the day as an added concern, Arsene knew that we needed to win at all cost. This sort of motivation is ideal for a festive season home game and the boys were clearly hungry for a win.
Eight Positives from the Game and my MOTM:
- Giroud’s back-heel flick was of course the outstanding moment of the game. Alexis should have done a lot better with his cross for Ollie as there was little pressure on him after a finely worked counter-attack by the team, but Giroud improvised with the most sexy back heel ‘dink’ you will ever see and that will have had Bergkamp’s highest approval, no doubt. I used to do these when I was seven all the time but the team manager, an old idiot, told me it was way to fancy and should stop doing them. So to see Giroud reach backwards with his heel to still make something of Alexis’ poor pass and then beat the keeper with an unstoppable, other-worldly loop, was a total, orgasmic joy. He clearly was still a bit rusty and the team seem to find it hard to switch between playing with Alexis or Giroud as our CF, but it was still good to have him back in the starting line-up.
- The Elneny-Xhaka DM duo was awesome. They both totally dominated midfield with their energy, intelligence and healthy aggression. Xhaka is a beautiful player to watch and he quietly choreographed proceedings from the back like a true general. Elneny never allowed opponents time on the ball and his reading of the game was very good; and we all know how accurate his passing is. Together they were my MOTM.
- The Wing Backs were fabulous. Wenger had clearly instructed Monreal and Bellerin to bomb forward and provide the much needed added width to our game against these sort of teams. CP had no answer to our wing play and as a result we had a lot of fun stretching their defence and getting right behind them. The final ball of both can still improve, but they played an integral role in our pretty aggressive and constant attacking play (22 shots by the whole team but only seven on target).
- Iwobi managed to make us forget Ozil for big periods of the game. Don’t get me wrong, though: had Mesut played I reckon we would have scored six today. But Iwobi is still learning and playing as a nr.10 is the equivalent to being top dog in astrophysics. However, you can see how he plays with his head up and wants to play the best ball possible, and he was our most creative player on the pitch with great touch and some very fine passing. What is also good to see is that Alex has a lot of physical strength and the older he will get the more beastly he will become. I loved his goal too: sheer determination to get us over the line (and we desperately needed that second goal today).
- Alexis did not have his best days in terms of finishing off the few decent chances that came his way, but his energy and presence were once again very important. He missed his creative twin, Mesut, today but he still played an important teal role for us.
- Perez was a breath of fresh air. He missed a little bit of sharpness up-front but his wing play was pretty solid throughout the match. He was always an option for his colleagues and helped out very well at the back. On top of this, he is a safe pair of hands when receiving and moving with the ball, and I would love to see him played more regularly from now on.
- Koz-Gab combined healthy aggression with maturity and excellent tactical understanding between them; they never made me feel uncomfortable, which is a lovely state to be in! 🙂
- Cech: is there a better goalkeeper in terms of being present when he is called upon? It is all about making the right decisions during the few moments our defence is breached, and Petr did this impeccably. Top man.
23 thoughts on “Orgasmic Giroud, Iwobi makes us forget Ozil, Solid Perez, Two Players MOTM: 8 Positives Arsenal v Palace”
Alexis looked totally spent and we should have done better than just scoring 2 against a palace cracking at the structure.
The opponents did quite well in trying to pass the ball forward, but we did even better in terms of positioning.
Mustafi should start the next game against Bournemouth, as we need better defending that what we did yesterday.
Elneny and Alex in the central made us move the ball quicker. I would love to have Elneny and Xhaka play tomorrow’s game, but I know 2 games in 48 hours is a no.
What about Elneny and Rambo in the DM area and Ozil back tomorrow? We expect to have a better performance with those changes. And Alexis up top tomorrow, with Perez and Alex on the wings.
Well written T A and what a fantastic goal by Giroud. There was some debate about if it was lucky or not, but I have to ask what other players were capable of achieving it. Brilliant in my book, although I wouldn’t have been critical if he had hit the corner flag. I still think the best ever scorpion kick was by the Colombian keeper Higgins, although highly unrecommended. Totally agree on the Elneny , Zhaka partnership, although Elneny is off to African cup cup of Nations.
Just a word of praise for Gabriel, after a shaky start he is improving with every game and the last two games we have achieved clean sheets and that hasn’t happened for a while.
Very satisfied with the work put in by the team and can only hope Wenger is able to have them do an encore tomorrow. Top marks to all the players, really, though I have seen comments on some blogs which have clearly allowed an inexplicable hatred of Arsene to seep into how they perceive the players. Anyway, I would ignore those as it is merely their opinion.
There was a desire to press forward and make the passes quicker, by the boys. I daresay Iwobi ran the offensive play very well. He never hid and seemed to take the role very seriously, playing under strict instructions. One would imagine.
Nice to see that I wasn’t alone in observing the improvements in Gabriel’s defending; confirming he only needed a run in the side. The manager has to allow him play the next game, as against just replacing him with the returning Mustafi, which is the popular sentiment. If we need to make any changes, then maybe Kos could sit out the next game for Mustafi, to give him some rest time c reward Gabriel. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it would be my attitude with Gabriel. He has done well, contrary to generally held views of his abilities. He had Benteke in his pocket all game bar one moment.
Thank Goodness Jack isn’t eligible for Bournemouth on Tuesday. He is in some form now. Roll on Bournemouth….
Lovely post TA, but I would skip The Fantastic Giroud Goal and go straight to Xhaka. I know that what Xhaka does is repeatable and I prefer to revel more in the future than in the past. Dreamer or forward looking? Maybe am both.
Xhaka is focused 90 minutes. He is incredibly aware of the space around him and its contents. That, imo, is his greatest asset. His brain is never foggy on what to do. So he is calm, controlled and to the point. With the ball, he never need get out of tangles simply because he doesn’t allow tangles to develope. He is a creator of free space. He has a good feel of the ball, lovely first touch, no embellishments. His range of passes is without equal, short, long, between the lines, accurate.
We were all fooled by his red card reputation and his name Granit Xhaka. We thought he was raw granite that could xhaka legs and other things. Little did we how that he is a polished stone. The more you get to know him, the more you get to appreciate him. What Wenger has to give him is an enabling environment. Is it Xhaka/Elneny? Yesterday the pair were faultless. Or is it Xhaka/Coquelin, Xhaka/Rambo or will Xhaka/Santi be out of this world? You can bet that Wenger’s brain is swirling around the Xhaka fixture. Is Wenger ever going to retire as there is always a pet project developing such as ” Project Xhaka and Enabling Environment”? All I can say is that we are into something good. When Koscienly finally bows out and steps into the Arsenal Hall of Legends, the captain’s armband would be wrapped round Xhaka’s arm for sure. A natural leader of men, dear fellow gunners, another legend is in the making.
Just watched it on the player… overall, dominant game against an out of sorts CP in heavy rain. Lots been written here and elsewhere, and yes, OG for goal of the year.. bloody hell!
Anyway, my take away is “evolution” based on:
A. El Neny and Xhaka were very solid and controlled the front of defense very well, as well as outlets. IMO, for what they are, CP weren’t as bad as stated, as much as ese two were very good in letting almost nothing build or gain cohesion.
B. Perez was running “incisively” cutting open the well sat back defense regularly. A good sign as we dont do so well against the bus. Especially loved his distribution, see mins 11 and 16 for sweet subtle examples imo. Needs a right foot though
C. Iwobi, very confident and the triple of him, Xhaka and the soon to depart El Neny (African Cup) were both solid AND creative against the bus and in free flow.
So, evolution? Basically, these four (Xhaka, El Neny, Iwobi, Perez) are all relatively young and I want to see how they evolve. Recall:
A. Not too long ago Kos was an excellent defender prone to costly, red card level brain farts on a regular enough scale we could compare to the last 1-2. Now, the rock of Gibraltar isn’t as solid.
B. Bellerin, not too long ago, he was young and untested, and a deep breath was held. Now…
Now, both are first in the team sheet or close enough. So, given Santi is out, and AR is out (of favor?), there is a real opportunity for hem to define the strongest Arsenal side. If they rep up like my two, of many, prior cases…
The game? Predictable otherwise, ans win how we shoulda won it, or close enough.
For Bournemouth, figure El Neny leaves, I believe and Ozil is still ill. I’d call same squad, it rest Sanchez now or in FA cup (or both?). Figure Walcott for Sanchez?
My 2p .. cheers — JGC
Prof.. you make me break into cold sweat..
Firstly, playing the same team within 48 hours is a no.
Secondly, Theo for Alexis is another no.
We are able to have a switch of players, and maybe Le Coq and Rambo in the mid for the Bournemouth game. Mustafi coming back is a must, as we look slightly flustered in the moments when Palace attacked us.
The back four might not be able to be switched except for Mustafi due to the injuries, and we might lose out on pace in the second half.
We might see Perez on top and Alexis and Ollie dropping out, and I know it is something different compared to my previous comment, we should make the attack as fresh as possible with Ox and Welbeck featuring a little or even starting the game.
That will make the attack quicker and we need to push Bournemouth back, and not let them exploit our lack of pace.
Sure we can… weekend FAC vs Preston will ring serious changes I’d guess and then no game til e 15th. Eminently recoverable. We will, however, see.
Cheers — JGC
Happy New Year to you, Retsub. Yes Gabriel is looking good and I like his versatility. Glad though that Mustafi is back.
Eris, yes Iwobi did well and he was well supported by the unselfish Alexis and the DM beasts behind him. I also think he benefited from Ollie’s presence and hold up play.
PE, thanks. Yes Granit showed us what he is capable of in the deeper DM position and I could easily watch the game again just for him. But Elneny really worked well alongside him, also connecting midfield with attack brilliantly.
Morning Le Prof
Agreed on all points and the praise for Koz and Bel is well deserved.
I reckon Ramsey will take Elneny’s position and Ozil, if indeed fit, will take Iwobi’s as Bournemouth away is a different level.
Am hoping for Waldo to post his match stats soon 🎯⚽️😍
Thanks TA, I will get a quick one in before it is consigned to history …
Agree with much of your post match thoughts.
As great as Giroud’s goal was, it was only great because it came off.
If I thought he could do that in another game this season, he would be verging on the same level as Dennis … As I see it, that was Ollie’s once in a lifetime goal. Not lucky. He tried it. It came off.
The one thing I got right before the game, given the Benteke error – (I scrolled down too far and thought they must be playing a 4-3-3) .. Doh! – was the influence of Elneny and Iwobi would have. Not exactly a ‘high press’, just press everywhere, and that went with the predicted fast start. The thing that these two did that made that happen was they both like to pass and move….Forward!
The first time the Xhaka Elneny pairing was tried I commented that whatever they had in chemistry ‘ AW should bottle it. I am not convinced that is a pairing for every game,but with the right players involved on the same wavelength, it does work a treat.
I did not get my two goal and an assist from Iwobi, although it might have happened, but for a smart save late on. I’ll settle for his pre-assist and clever goal anytime he plays in that, his best position, not back pedalling to cover the gap from an infield Monreal.. The latter had an all round better game though. Partly due to us implanting our game on them from the off, thus his offensive runs were always carrying a threat. Plus Xhaka being in close proximity to any space behind him.
Unfortunately, the lack of conviction by the ‘Palace players made our job that much easier. Slightly worryingly, the ‘unselfishness’ of Alexis, which deserved high praise, but not fully shared by him? The less he scores the more frustrated he will become? The other thing that goes with tha,t as a slight negative, was Perez. The Prof, and commentators on the ‘Player, noted, his one footedness makes his hard to find a position in a fluid attack? Certainly not as a right winger.. He made some nice runs, and with better control could have grabbed a couple of goals. justI don’t see him usurping Ollie, Alexis or Iwobi as a starter. Super sub, may be?
I see Perez as very good with his off the ball runs, but not quite up there in building up plays (does it remind of somebody else ?). I feel he’d be best utilized as a striker operating through the right corridor. Likely as a sub sub.
Cheers Gerry, I really liked Perez for his team play and prefer him much to Ox or Theo as a starter. He reminds me of Freddie L in more than one way
FWIW, I don’t go with TA on this one, re: Perez
Time will tell.
Cheers — JGC
I –will– go with TA, sigh …
Line up today would depend a lot on the fitness of Ozil, Walcot, and Gibbs. All things being equal Wenger would like to ring the changes. I expect Gibbs to have recovered from the knock he sustained. Our CD weren’t too busy against Palace so I expect Kosh to be fielded again. Sanchez to start but primed for early substitution. Bel and Iwobi to start again. The younger, the faster the recovery rate. Again the bulkier the slower the recovery rate so Perez starts ahead of Sexy Giroud. Ozil on the bench.
My prediction: 5 changes.
Bench: Ospina, Gab, Nacho, Xhaka, Jeff, Ozil, Giroud.
Note: Sanchez at #9 works best with Walcott and Ozil playing.
Seeing as we are in correction mode …
My line on Perez was truncated in a way that did not match my thinking. It should have said
”……. noted his one footedness – (which makes him predictable, and I find) – it hard to find a position for him in a fluid attack’
Apologies for implying that you had said something you had not, Prof.
That said, every time I see him play I get the same impression …namerly, I want to see him play more before I am convinced? This game is no different. Against a more organised defence with confident players I think he will be shut out far too easily.
I agree with PE, centrre-right would be his best position, and in a 4-4-2 with Giroud it might work. We don’t play 4-4-2 , so I don’t see him getting much game time when everybody is here and fit. Other than as a sub.
In the meantime, I hope AW keeps him for the CF spot against Preston. At that level; he should at least score?
To quote the Stealer;s Wheel song … ‘ Welbs to the left of me, Ox to the right of me, here I am stuck in the middle for Chu’ …. Akpom, naturally.
Our fierce competitors that played yesterday all struggled. Liv 2-2 with relegation strugglers Sundeland. Man U lucky with the unfair sending off of a W Ham player 16 mins into the game and again lucky with an obvious offside goal. Man C lucky to get away with a 2-1 win against Burnley at the Etihad. They all looked weary particularly the otherwise high octane performing Liverpool. We got depth, we must use it, so we don’t play weary. Every match atm is a cup final!
Wenger loves runs off the shoulders of the back line. Walcott is 1st class there. Perez is not far behind him. Perez to lead the line today.
PE, I am reluctant to write much while we are stuck in this review of the last game, and preview of tonight’s match. But in the absence of the latter, here are my thoughts.
As far as team selection goes after 48 hours, I would say this:
It will be more physical tiredness than mental this time around, because of the reasonable gap from the game before.
The runners will be the ones that feel it most.
Bellerin took a knock to his previous injured ankle, and may well sit this one out?
Alexis will start brightly, but tire early in the second half. Monreal did a fair bit of getting forward, but given he will miss the FA Cup game, where I expect the extra time will allow Gibbs to captain that team, I expect him to play the full 90.
Perez may not be as match fit, but could start in this, with Giroud ready to come on and replace Alexis early doors(hopefully). However, in order to give Alexis a better chance of scoring, I would favour Perez for Preston, reason’s as above. With no Ozil, I think Iwobi will keep that 10 spot, but is another who will tire early in the second half.
Note this build up of players needing to be subbed!
My guess is Mustafi will be kept for the Preston game to have a senior presence at the heart of defence in that, but may get outing from the bench. Although Per Mertersacker might not be far away now?
Ox would be a preference for the position he came on for last time, as it means Bells need not get forward too much. Away from home Jenkinson may also get a look in if Bells is rested. I get the feeling Holding is not being risked ahead of a potential loan move? If not he should make the Cup squad.
Ideally we would have a strong presence out wide left, which we haven’t got. Jeff R-A is almost certain for that spot at the weekend. So it will be either, Alexis left, Perez middle, and Ox right, my preference, as Perez right will mean Bellerin will be needed more down the line, and less support coming back, if Ox switches to the left?
Then there is Welbeck???
And Giroud … who has not been overplayed coming into the last game, and was not unduly kicked about by a timid Palace defence.
In short, AW will stick to the same 11, except for Ox in for Perez, and possibly Jenks for Bellerin. The bench should have replacements for Iwobi, Alexis, and Monreal if needed. They should be, in the same order; See below for Iwobi. Welbeck (or Jeff R-A); and Perez for Ox or Giroud, if Gibbs is hopefully unused.,
HOWEVER! – Just checked FPL on injuries/availability. Gibbs, Walcott, and Akpom are only 50% chance of playing next game. That is a usual non-availability. But Ozil is on 75%, and that is usually will play if needed. So Iwobi will likely drop to the bench?. Welbeck is declared fit, Mertersacker isn’t.
Bournemouth on the other hand have; Wilshere, Pugh, and Cook unavailable from their midfield, but all clear from everywhere else.
Tough game in prospect!
Gerry and PE,
A. Gerry, your love of youth and Chuba are noted/recognised! 🙂
B. Big change and AW don’t go in the sentence PE. I figure 3 changes, one forced as El Neny is gone I hear to the African Cup. Equally, reports have Ozil ill still so,I figure him for he 15th, mandating .Iwobi for now.
C. Thus, Coq for El Neny, AR perhaps, he could rest Sanchez if desired. Perez to stay, OG to stay and Mustafi out til 15th figure or a cameo as noted vs Preston. The third, likely in défense like Gibbs for Monreal perhaps.
We will see, and if I’m wrong it’s cuz AWs a genius, and if I’m right we’re both geniuses. How’s that?!? 😀
Cheers — JGC
hahaha, you cannot lose that way, geoff 🙂
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