The so called easy games, the home ones against the ‘non-top-six’ teams, we are supposed to win; and this we did. Even though Arsenal were expected to win, this was never going to be an easy game. The Barcodes sat back and wanted to beat us on the counter or via set-pieces, but we never let them in due to us playing at a high tempo and with constant pressure on the ‘back nine’ of the opponent. It was a great strategy by Emery to keep the Magpies in their own half almost constantly, never give them time to settle and keep cracking the parked busses open with quick and incisive passing. Master Mesut and work horses Ramsey and Lacazette were all immense in setting the tempo and drive the magpies crazy, and all deserve the MOTM reward.
- Leno: not much to do but focussed and dynamic with his ball distribution and he read the game well – 7;
- Monreal: wonderfully aggressive and solid with his passing and positioning – 7.5;
- Big Sok: calm leader with good aggression and positioning when required – 7.5;
- Mustafi: a bit frantic and slightly careless at times with a couple of poor passes, but he also had good levels of energy and aggression and this was vital for the system Emery wanted to play versus the Barcodes – 7 All three CBs put in a great shift.
- Kola: great aggression and forward runs. Some fine passes and crosses and decent defensive contributions. A bit more composure for the final ball and Kola will become a major force for us – 7.5
- Ainsley M-N: same as Kola –7.5. This boy is going to be great. Such composure and athleticism.
- Guendouzi: another boy with potential. He showed good aggression and energy and drove the ball forwards well, but his defensive positioning and protecting of the back three remains below par. A few good interceptions and quality passes though – 7
- Ramsey: big motor and good passing and good defensive work too. Fine goal – 8.5
- Ozil: strong focus on adding value to our attacking play (as always) and chief whip for the team. Some exquisite passes and a key outlet for our defenders and midfielders – 8.5
- Iwobi: took a while to get into the game but also showed great energy and desire to penetrate the parked busses. A bit unfortunate with his final balls and lacked composure at times: 6.5
- Laca: class act. Great goal which was a direct reward for his hard work. Should have had a second but the ref was determined to spare the Barcodes a spanking. Great work rate and constant bee in the defenders’ bonnet, but also has that bit of class and quality that makes the difference. I want to buy his shirt – 8.5
The Spuds are looking up and can see the red and white arses for the first time this season; long may it continue. Next up are the sweet Toffees. COYGs!