In our vacuum of post-European exit and not much to fight for – other than the off chance of still finishing in a position that will see us play in Europe somehow – the only thing we could ask and hope for is committed performances by the team. And that is exactly what we are getting. It means there is still spirit in our team and there is trust in Mikel Arteta, and there is nothing more valuable than that.
The Tuchel Train was on full speed and Arsenal could have easily buckled under this enormous force, but Arteta was not going to have it. We sat deep and sucked up pressure all game long. Jose Mourinho will have been proud of Mikel, no doubt. 😀
We had two great bounces of the ball going our way, to be fair: the wasted opportunity by Havertz after Mari got caught out and then the pounce of the Gunner-Hyenas a few minutes later that led to the only goal after a bad back pass. 1-0 the Arsenal it was and stayed, and the boys fought for it. Holdingho, Mari and Big Gab were a wall to reckon with; big-sausage-legs Tierney was on fire; Saka played with tactical discipline; Elneny and Partey did tons of dirty work; artists Ode and Auba put in a great shift and ESR was our star man. It was of course no total football and the purists will have suffered, but the rebuilding started two games ago and Arsenal have to reinforce the foundations and walls first… and that they did.
I am pleased we were able to win a couple of games without (my current favourite) Granit in the team. For a long time, we struggled to win games without him leading the team tactically, but we have looked good without him in those games. The Partey-Elneny combo was especially strong and I hope to see more of it in the future. But the big, big plus were ESR’s performances in the recent games. Emile was totally in his element and it was great to see him work the ball and space around him with very intelligent yet instinctive football. Against West Brom he played well but Saka stole the show; against Chelsea it was ESR turn to be our MOTM.
Arteta can build a team around these two super talents, especially if they are supported by a no-nonsense midfield and a number of centre backs with a great work ethic. In Auba and Laca we have attackers who will score plenty of goals if we create chances for them; and they have done so much more since the start of the new year. In Tierney and Pepe we have players who will grow over the coming years and are likely to become better and better. There are some good experienced wider-squad players to use like Cedric, Willian (just give him one more season to come good hopefully) and (now possibly) Xhaka. And then there are some promising youngsters to hopefully add to the team’s skill-set and ability. Buy a couple of players and let a few more go, and Bob’s your uncle.
Emile Smith Rowe, Rowe the Boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily. merrily
Life is but a dream.