Gabriel & Coq Beastly, Giroud & Ospina Decisive, Ozil Delivers: 8 Positives from Game.

A messy Coq au Vin, yet the sheet remained spotless!

Well that was a hard-fought and very necessary win. Both teams sat deep and played it safe in the first half, and not so much happened in front of goal. The tempo was low and neither team had the ball long in the areas that matter: it was at times more of a chess game than a football game. But Giroud had his shooting shin-pad on when the ball reached him from a Mesut corner; and that was all it took to go in the lead.

To be fair to Everton, they kept going and gave us a hard time to get out of our defence. Le Coq, and to a lesser extent Cazorla, battled like tigers to regain control of the midfield. Sanchez and Ozil helped out were they could but struggled to get their attacking game going. Ox was more active in our attacking play but his final ball was mostly not good enough, with the exception of the late ball into the box for Ozil that could easily have been an assist for him.

Koz had an off day, not looking his usual self. But both Gabriel and Ospina came more than once to the rescue with finely timed and hard-but-fair interceptions and saves. Together they kept the sheet away from any Toffee smudges, amply helped by their direct colleagues and fine team defending.

The 1-0 lead was defended to the end and then came the Toffees hammer blow. A brilliant, archetypal Ozil pullback from the sideline to just in front of the opposition’s ‘D’ was slammed home by super-sub Rosicky. This time it was Arsenal who had the lucky deflection: the once again impressive Jagielka did not deserve to be the involuntary deflector, but it was the goal we had all been hoping for. It sealed the three points for Arsenal and allowed us to nest warmly in the top-four. Northern Oilers look behind you, the Cannon is on fire!

Eight Positives from the game:

  1. Gabriel put a smile on our faces. Yes he had a bit of rough start and had to be helped by Ospina to save his blushes, but once he got in his stride he was eating toffees for fun. Lukaku is advised to drink a strong whiskey before he goes to bed tonight…
  2. Coquelin matched Gabriel in beastliness. Some believe he is not physically strong enough but on today’s performance I reckon we have the new Silva in our midst. If and when we play deep and organised, Le Coq is a joy to watch. I also was very pleased with Santi’s disciplined performance: he sat deeper and put in a great shift from a defensive point of view.
  3. Giroud worked his socks off for the team and was rewarded for his efforts by an important goal. There are still a few Gooners out there who do not rate him, but there is no player out there who more fulfils the entire content of his job description than OG. Ollie drew blood twice and le Coq will be feeling it tonight, but this was just the sort of response we all expected from him.
  4. Bellerin had a strong game, both in defence and attack. He had struggled on Wednesday but to see a nineteen year old lad come back so strongly today, fully committed and yet playing intelligently throughout the game, is very impressive.
  5. Ozil’s added two more assists today and that is what he was bought for. He might not be as physically committed as some other Gunners, but he puts in a shift nevertheless; and then he is also that one player who can produce that little bit of magic such as his fabulous diagonal pull-back into the danger area that found Rosicky for our second goal.
  6. Ospina was in very fine form and showed why he is preferred to the lonesome Pole. His decision making and concentration levels were perfectly balanced towards the games defensive requirements. He read the game so well and his Lukaku safe midway through the second half was fabulous… and probably won us the game.
  7. Wenger’s substitutions were very effective today. He was right to keep Le Coq on as he was the embodiment of our resistance in the team today. Taking him out could have changed the balance in the game dramatically. But in the end he had to go and Chambers was the right choice. I also thought that Rosa for Ox was spot on. The latter had run out of steam a bit and Rosa replenished the blood supply. The Czech helped to release the pressure from the Toffees and his drive gave a new boost to the team.
  8. Alexis did not have a great game from an attacking point of view but boy did he work his socks off for our team! He is so effective in all aspects of the game and his work rate is really rubbing off on his fellow players. What a signing!

A few days rest before we face another London derby, but I reckon the boys want to play that game tomorrow; that’s how good they are feeling after a very professional yet passionate win.

Third now and just four points behind the Northern Oilers: The boys stood tall and made us proud today.

By TotalArsenal.

Coquelin’s bite, Giroud’s deadliness, Welbeck improving: Eight Positives from Game.

Coquelin1

Well, that was another game in which we scored easily and just enough goals to claim all three points. This sitting deep and beating opponents on the counter is most definitely our ‘plan B’ this season… it is not for the faint-hearted, though. Just as we did against the Spuds, we were unable/unwilling to push up and release the pressure on our defence, and we almost paid for this again.

For a long time, we looked in control though, and we should take heart from this; and had Alexis converted the fabulous team counter we produced mid-through the second half, it would have been a lot easier for us. Arsene’s subs did not help at all but I was happy he took off both Ozil and Alexis to avoid a late injury to them: we will need them even more on Wednesday.

Why we were unable to release the pressure by pushing The Eagles back again, or by keeping the ball better, or by more effective counter football, is hard to explain. I guess the boys were in doubt whether to defend the lead or to add to it, and Pardew’s men did a good job at pressurising our central midfielders. Since the former Barcodes manager arrived, Palace have won many games and this showed in the confidence with which the Eagles played.

As a team we need to learn from these games so we can improve our plan-B further. Nothing wrong with that, though, as long as we learn fast…

Eight Positives from the game:

  1. Welbeck was far more effective in this game than in his previous ones, with better reading of the game and positioning. He earned the penalty by putting pressure on the CP defence and he made a strong and direct run into the box, anticipating Alexis’ through-ball; and his subsequent attempt on goal had plenty of venom, which forced the keeper to parry the ball into the danger zone.
  2. Giroud scored his fiftieth Arsenal goal and that in just 116 games, giving him a 0.43 goals per game average in a red and white shirt. We know how important his overall role is in the team, but Ollie is now adding regular goals to his game as well, with 10 goals in less than 900 minutes this season.
  3. Coquelin added the necessary bite to the team and he did a great job in shielding the defence on Saturday. He still needs to control his tackles a bit, but at times he was simply sublime, with great reading of the game and effective interceptions, as well as confidently passing the ball out of our half.
  4. Ozil and Alexis helped out our defence really well. This is not Mesut’s natural game but he was often deep to support his full back and the same goes for Mesut, who is great at coming back to regain the ball and move it forward again. I felt we lacked this support almost as soon as they left the field.
  5. Our win today was helped by a large dollop of luck, but I will not be complaining about it! With Manure dropping all three points at the Jacks, the Spuds drawing and the Saints losing, we have made a big leap forward. With Everton home and QPR away as our next games, we have a decent opportunity to hang on to our third place and produce a little gap with some of our main competitors for the CL places.
  6. Santi has taken over from Arteta the role of secure penalty convertor. Mikel was a safe pair of hands for this and it is great that Santi has fully and successfully embraced this important role within the team.
  7. Squad depth: being able to bring on fit and experienced players like Rosicky, Gibbs and Gabriel, with Jack and Theo on the bench as well, is just great. They did not make a big difference on the day, but having a strong bench at this stage of the season is simply fantastic.
  8. Per and Koz defended very well, especially with regards to the continuous high balls into the box. It was really good to see us so demanding in the air for almost the entire game; eliminating the threat of Palace’s strong wing-play to a large extent (the FBs Monreal and Chambers were truly tested and sometimes found wanting).

Olivier-Giroud-AFP_3208367b

Now bring on the Principality and give them some old fashioned Wengerball! 🙂

 By TotalArsenal.

8 Positives from Game: Ozil & Santi Gel, Giroud’s Balance, Gibbs is Back

The cannon roared and the parked Boro buses were left in smouldering ruins; and the smoke could be seen all the way from Stamford Bridge. Arsenal were ruthless today and only Boro’s excellent goalie Mejias Osorio saved the Smoggies from a giant walloping.

This is how we all like Arsenal to play when facing teams that play defensive – impressively only conceding three goals in their last ten games: attack relentlessly and never give them time to settle, with pressing them as high as possible up the pitch. The tempo of the whole team was very high and we passed the ball round fast and with real intent. There was structure and plan to our game today.

cid182127_GiroudVI06_1180_580x310

The first goal was very well worked and a pure team goal involving the likes of Alexis, Welbeck, Gibbs, Santi and OG. It was a well deserved and necessary goal, as we had had lots of possession and a number of decent untaken chances until then, and we had to make this dominance count.

And before the Smoggies could find back their breath, OG found the net again: a quickly taken corner by Alexis and a clever run by the Frenchman to the near post was enough to unsettle an ill prepared Boro defence…. and Ollie’s finish was Poldolskiesque. Boom Boom: 2-0 and potentially game over. To really have made us feel at ease the boys needed to score a third goal, and there were very good opportunities to do so, but the Boro defence and the impressive Spaniard Osorio defended their reputation of solidness at the back with pride and determination.

Eight positives from the game (in no particular order):

  1. Giroud: he has found the perfect balance between his two roles given to him by Arsene: that of enabler of others and creator of space and that of classical centre forward play, including scoring goals. Enough said.
  2. Gibbs is back: Kieran was a great support for the team’s attacking endeavours today. He provided width and penetration from the left flank for 90+ minutes. His assist for OG’s first goal was very sharp this time round; and delivering dangerous balls into the box is just what he needs to add to his attacking game if he really wants to become a super quality, modern left back. Top stuff.
  3. Santi and Ozil CAN play together, even when played centrally. Santi played very well in his deeper role and Ozil was in his element in the free role behind the attackers. Furthermore, with Alexis mixing it all up by coming centrally and deep to get the ball as well, the Spaniard, Chilean and German provided a multi-dimensional creative attacking force today. Together they made our attacks unpredictable and their relentless energy and attacking thrust was simply too much for Middlesborough. They were a joy to watch.
  4. Gabriel’s first game led to a clean sheet and he had a good all-round performance. He looked at home next to Koz and really seemed to enjoy playing in the shirt in front of the home crowd. We need to see him tested in more difficult games but he impressed with his speed, reading of the game and tenacity. I also loved the unorthodox way in which he collected a yellow card for the team!
  5. We did not miss the BFG today. The tactics to push Boro high up the pitch and not let them get into play suited two fast CBs today, as we played a high line for which we need fast defence players in case the opposition spring a counter-attack on us or play one over the top. We might well see Wenger swapping between different styles of play depending on the opposition going forward, with him choosing two out Koz, BFG and Paulista to suit a particular style/ tactics… TBC.
  6. Chambers had a good game both defensively and from an attacking point of view. His final ball when assisting the attack needs to improve further but for a nineteen year old this is to be expected. I loved his drive and strength in the one to ones especially.
  7. Alexis’ defending is just so good. Nobody makes more tackles than Alexis in the team and he reads danger so well for an attacker. He is a constant menace to the opposition and his drive and energy are so contagious to the rest of the team: he applies the whip and leads literally from the front. He also played very unselfishly for the team and he was rewarded by another assist. He was also very unlucky not to score from Santi’s free-kick with an unbelievable header (given his size between the giants).Top, top player.
  8. The football we played today was us being back to the future. I love that we played deep against Citeh and Spuds, but this is the sort of footie that makes us all purr. Wenger’s tactics were spot on and the team’s attitude was fantastic, and the resulting football was a compliment to the eye. More of this against Palace please! 🙂

 

By TotalArsenal.