Arsenal 2 – 0 West Brom
Arsenal v West Brom was a good game to watch. Arsenal were not as slick and dominant as many of us had hoped but the players worked for each other and started to play really well in the second half. I watched the game in a Manchester pub with hardly anybody interested in it, which was great. I had the TV to myself and was able to analyse the game properly without any disruption.
Eight quick observations:
- Lacazette is our calculating fox. He works hard for the team without having too much luck in supporting our build-up play as yet. But he knows how to pounce on an opportunity, how to anticipate these and how to stay calm before the kill is made. Two goals for him and us. Brilliant.
- The team did not play the ball to Xhaka anywhere near enough in the first half. Whether they did not dare or Xhaka was not mobile enough I don’t know, but it made us very slow and ponderous. In the second half, Elneny played closer to Xhaka and we pushed a bit higher and kept WB significantly more in their own half. Xhaka got a lot more involved and we now were a lot less exposed at the back and were able to see out the game easily after the second goal went in.
- The way we played so much better in the second half is once more a strong indication of how good a ‘half-time manager’ Wenger is. Rather than substituting one or two players after the break, Wenger opts for tactical changes and speaking to his players as a group and on an individual basis.
- I know that some believe that we are better without Ozil but this was the perfect game to see how much we miss him when side-lined. Rambo did his best to make things happen but he has not got the speed of thinking of Mesut and technical ability to deliver those key-hole passes. Against a team like West Brom we can get away with this but the sooner he is back the better imo. Mesut adds the extra dimension in our attacking play and nobody else does this (other than Santi and Jack but they struggle to stay fit).
- Nacho is Senor Arsenal. What is not to love about Monreal? He gives his all and is so focussed when he is playing. The highlight was of course he kamikaze clearance of the line early on in the game which saved our blushes.
- Alexis worked hard and can be sublime one minute and wasteful the other minute in terms of his involvement in our build-up play. I would love it if he would leave one or two free-kicks to Xhaka going forward. Still, he played almost a whole game and with his heart on his sleeve and had the assist for the all-important first goal.
- Gibbs was a joy to watch. What a professional and I hope he does well at WB.
- Another clean sheet. Yes we rode our luck a bit at times with one particular decision going our way, but with Koz, Mustafi and Nacho in the centre and Kola and Hector on the wings, we have a lot of speed, healthy aggression and skills in our defence, supported by the uber-calm Petr of course!!