MATCH REVIEW: Arsenal v Palace
Faithful Treated to Rapid Return of Wengerball at The Home Of Football.
The joy of playing worry-free football was made evident 6 minutes into today’s match versus Crystal Palace. A swift-moving build-up left-side of the box resulted in Alex Iwobi’s well-hit shot from 18– being parried over the bar by Palace GK Wayne Hennessey. Granit Xhaka’s ensuing top-spin corner was overhit across goal– met by Nacho Monreal (outfoxing marker James McArthur)– heading downward into an open left-side of goal from 4yds. (No questioning the exuberance of this celebratory mob!)
1-nil. And the shackles came off.
The ball moved keenly around and through Palace’s defence (Jack!). Following a pair of promising build-ups– a slide-tackled ball squirted out of the box to Monreal on the left. Taking several measured touches on an unfettered diagonal run to the goal line– Nacho cut a pass back toward the 6, where Iwobi deflected his shot at a right-angle– slotting home just right of Hennessey.
2-nil. Energy positively crackled and popped about the pitch.
Every wayward ball was finding an Arsenal foot. It’s what happens when things are going good.
Two-minutes later, Cech scooped up a ball that bounded to him after a lobbed cross– then uncharacteristically lined an Ederson-like offensive pass down the left flank to a streaking Iwobi; taking the ball in-stride. The move didn’t create a chance straightaway– but resulted in a possession that found Lacazette battling for a pass on the goal line with the GK and a defender. Resulting in another corner by Xhaka.
Palace MF James McArthur was already having a bad day. Monreal had scored, then assisted. Both times in McArthur’s supposed custody. It got worse. Xhaka again overhit the corner in from the right. Replays show Monreal (using judo-like moves) escaping McArthur for a third time. This time one-touching the ball back toward Kos front of goal, who, calmly bundled the ball in.
3-nil. Cool and ruthless. 13 minutes. 4 shots. 3 goals. (Arsenal would finish with 16/10 on target.)
Left to perform? A bit of artistry, leading to a predestined goal– for Alexander Lacazette. Which came shortly after.
In the minute building up– a 16-pass possession culminated with Mesut Ozil receiving a pass on the 18, touch to his left, windup and shoot(!). The rebound/clearance was captured about 30yds out and centre– leading to another dozen, 1-touch or 1-2 passes– with the brilliance of Mesut Ozil on display in all it’s splendour:
Elneny to Ozil to Xhaka to Iwobi (wide, dribble-in), to Elneny centre, squared to Ozil left (at 30), forward to Xhaka wide (at 20), returned to Ozil, diagonal to Iwobi (at 22), one-touch return diagonal to Ozil forward (at 22), square to Wilshere (at 20), one-touch return diagonal to Ozil forward (at 18)– who then flicks foot-top-of-ball behind to the lurking Lacazette who fires right-footed into the bottom-right corner from 12yds. (Gave me goose bumps!)
4-nil. A thing of beauty.
Arsenal quickly, efficiently, and to a man, wholeheartedly effected the act of ‘Alexit’ in front of an approving throng at The Emirates.
Iwobi had a 20yd rocket denied about a minute later. There were other chances too. But the energy in those first 25 minutes were exactly what the exorcist ordered. A clean break from the cursed morass of the day before. And days before that. Alexit.
Saw things today I’d not seen all season:
Ozil tracked back to our goal line and prevented a cross!
Iwobi popped around and played the role of conduit very effectively.
(Alex scored in taking three shots, and even had a defensive grass-stain on his bum!)
Xhaka played effectively in tandem with Elneny.
Also saw things we all suspected were true:
Jack was a field-general today. Playing instinctively, spraying advantageous passes to runners. Mesut looked fresh. His periphery was widened, as was the pitch– for everyone.
The wingbacks performed the length of the pitch. Hector was pretty good today.
The other guy?
MoTM. The Nacho Man.
Goal and two assists. In just 33 minutes.
Performances like this one?
By good-but-not-star players can happen– when a team uses the entire pitch and plays without subconscious restriction. The news so far about Monreal’s substitution at 33 minutes is ‘not bad’. Supposedly precautionary. Took a ‘kick’ to his just-healed hamstring (Please be true!). AMN filling in admirably.
The remainder of the game was less-than exciting– but solid. The defence was pretty good. (Mostly wagering myself when Zaha would be carded, and what hue. I lost that bet. Yet still, somehow, get a Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate for being a sport. 🙄 ) CP had 2-3 chances. Palace got their consolation goal late. Cech still waiting on his 200th clean sheet.
Reiss Nelson made his PL debut, coming on for Ozil (at 72′). Sead Kolasinac returning from injury, on for Iwobi (at 82′)
So? Everybody good? (So good? I nearly had a cigarette. And I’ve never smoked 🙂 )
Now that we’ve performed the Alexit ceremony?
Can we please just get the Hentrance exam completed now!