Arsenal 2 – 0 Everton. Joint fifth in the league now.
To summarise our game v Everton today: we are a work in progress and have frailties but have quality AND character all over the pitch to win, and that is what we did.
Six observations from a mad, frantic, table-football kind of game:
- Cech was MOTM – that one is easy for us all to agree on, no? Petr is a winner and rather than relax and be Arsenal’s number 2, he is fighting tooth and nail to be first choice for Emery. He has won us games before and he did so again today. His positioning was strong and his interventions were decisive; he still frightens opponents when they face him and that is half the chance saved time and again;
- The Laca-Auba combo paid dividend once again. We now have the sort of quality up-front that will win us games and it is important there are two quality attackers from the start. This makes it hard for defenders to eliminate our attacking threat for 90 minutes. At some point, they will get chances and before you know the net bulges; it did twice and the three point are ours. It reminds me a bit about Cole and Yorke for Manure in what now seems a lifetime ago;
- Torreira-Xhaka gave us better shape, especially in the second half, but they will have to work together a lot more to become fully effective: a work in progress. Emery did a good job in instructing them during the second half, as they increased the tempo and their passing was more crispy; and they pushed a bit higher as well and started to play the ball towards the Everton ‘D’ area rather than play it wide time and again;
- Ozil and Rambo on the pitch just does not seem to work. I know Rambo had technically two assists but the first goals was all about a superb finish and the second one was technically offsite as Rambo miscued his effort on goal. Ozil tried as hard as Rambo but the game was very frantic and he struggled to get a grip on it. It also feels that the German and Welshman run into each other space but with different intentions (and technical qualities) and this does not help the attackers as in what to expect and to do next;
- Our team spirit and energy levels are good, if not very good. The game was played at a high pace and right till the end we tried to score goals. Technically and tactically Arsenal remain a work in progress but we are winning games because of the hard work and individual quality of players (Cech, Laca and Auba especially);
- Mustafi’s kamikaze style caused Sokratis an injury (and yellow card) and the Greek did not look too pleased with the German. The good news is that Holding did a good job replacing Sokratis and even brought a bit of calm into our defence. Rather than making progress this season it looks like Mustafi is our weakest link in defence right now (and he should thank Cech for saving us/him a few times in the first 15 minutes alone). How long before Emery opts for a different CB pairing in our key games?
Up next in the PL are Watford at home and a win would see us enter the Top-Four for the first time (on points at least). It might not be pretty or for the purists at this stage, we remain vulnerable at the back and our midfield still lacks shape and domination, but we fight as a team for ninety minutes and keep scoring goals (two PL goals per game) and just had our first clean sheet. So let’s keep OGAAT-ing and growing and who knows where it all ends this season?