Very little time to do a proper blog on yesterday’s fine win against the Magpies, but here are my quick eight observations:
- The obvious one: Tidy Torreira makes the difference. Enough said about this already but LT11 gives the team shape and gets the best out of Xhaka….
- Xhaka was our MOTM: I watched the highlights and the full second half and Granit was the master of midfield in the second half. The Swiss was were the ball was and the ball came to the Swiss time and again, whether he was in his own half or the Barcodes’ half. That is a sign of a great midfielder. Torreira plays more on a line with Xhaka and his first priority is to keep the midfield tidy, protect the defence and allow Xhaka to play his game properly. The beauty is that Torreira can also support the attack. He is starting to remind me of Edgar Davids, one of the best all-round midfielders ever to grace the grass.
- I love Petr Cech. He could be thinking I don’t want to do this anymore and turn my nightmares in to sweet dreams again by leaving us, but the Great Cech is fighting for his place and team and is so willing to adapt. At 36 this is pretty amazing.
- Auba, Ozil and Laca are by no means clicking yet, but boy did they work hard for the team all over the pitch. Once they start finding each other better and become sharper in front of goal they will really hurt some teams, but their work rate yesterday was very impressive and made the difference. Laca produced some very fine attacking balls for others and was in constant movement, Auba really supported Monreal on the flank (and it showed when he was substituted as the only danger – and goal – from the Magpies came from their right flank late on in the game), and Ozil just fought and fought – with a fine goal as a reward.
- The full backs had a very mature game, really balancing well between attack and defence all game long. The centre-backs were also pretty dominant all game long and the Musti-Sokratis partnership is making progress (need to sort covering space from non-set-piece crosses though).
- I loved the way the team kept shape and dominating the game after we scored the second goal. It was important that we pushed on for the second goal, but it was even more important not to sit back after the second. The way we dominated proceedings away from home in the second half was the biggest plus from the game.
- Rambo and Guendouzi offer a lot of energy and running and this is important to have in the team. The question is whether we need two of these starting a game: one coming to get the ball and the other moving forwards with the ball. Xhaka can move it forward without having to run too much and Ozil can come and pick the ball up. Our midfield is still a balancing act/ work in progress.
- This was Emery’s best game. The way he turned things round at half time and we then dominated the game was very impressive. Shame for the clean sheet, but we looked so much more composed and in control than in our previous matches.