It’s been quite a turbulent few weeks. Injuries, ‘hard-fought’ points and a night of absolute decimation in Germany. Having not lost a game in 15 visits to Villa Park, little wonder the players were in such happy moods in preparation for the game. Surely, the disappointment of the midweek game must have given the boys a reason to want to prove a point.
Ozil had been unfairly made the scapegoat of the team’s recent failings, despite it not been his fault. Wenger seemed to be obstinate in continuing with his tactical experiment, but whether it took the hashtag campaigns, or Piers Morgan’s radio outbursts to get the manager to change his mind is not the subject of scholarly debate.
Arsenal are back to winning ways.
And apart from the fact that the many media outlets will have deleted their drafts of “Keane’s Beards choke lackluster Gunners”, what did we pick from the game?
- Welbz could be ‘that Guy’
For a player who has never really been giving the chance to play freely in his favorite role, Welbeck came to Arsenal with a mission of self-redemption. Without forgetting that he is still a player still learning his trade, it must be kept in mind that such missions do come with a load of pressure. He was already acclaimed for his hard work and diligence but the goals were still the basis for judgment. Back-to-back fluffed chances against City and Dortmund may not have made his introduction any easier, both games ending in a draw and defeat. A part of him would have pricked him into believing he was to be held responsible. But rather than let that drop his head, he came out even with more conviction than he had shown in the previous games – running, hassling, and connecting with teammates. As he says, he’s yet to fully understand his mates, but on the evidence of the 79 seconds we saw, it may not take forever to establish that understanding.
- Number 10, forever
He was simply a delight to watch, as he always is. With the freedom to roam and seeing more of the ball, he completed 92% of his attempted passes, created two chances, and covered more yards than any other person on the pitch. You were not actually sure what he would do when Welbeck’s pass came through but once he scored, you knew he wouldn’t just stop there. When he returned the favour, his somewhat muted celebration was the expression that says: “you’ll get this all week if you play me where I seek”.
- We’ve missed Kieran Gibbs
Not to any discredit to Nacho Monreal, Gibbs simply has no rival at Arsenal, perhaps the only one (with Ozil) who can lay claim to that. Not because someone else cannot fill in for him, but that when he plays, the difference is always there. We will never know why he does not play for England on a more regular basis, but at least we are glad we will always have him.
- No Guarantees for Cazorla
Wenger said after the match that he couldn’t pick one player who did not play well today, and in as much as you’d agree given every result is always a collective output, I won’t sugar coat my increasing frustration with Santi Cazorla. Together with Ramsey, our ‘Messi’ seems to have a problem with doing the simple things simply. His dribbles are always good to watch, and we like how he keeps us guessing which feet he’ll score next with. However, it is painful to know that he can do much better than he’s done for a while.
- Early to Bed…
After Szeczny’s point-blank save of Ciaran Clark’s header ensured we would not fall behind in consequence to a lackluster opening half-hour, 192 seconds of sumptuous rendezvous saw the points sealed, signed and delivered. Despite the knowledge that if there was a team who could dispose such a lead, it would be us, you just did not see it happening on this occasion. Those 4 minutes effectively put the game to bed, and the points guaranteed. Oh… that we could employ same tactics in the transfer windows.
It was a wonderful day, and a wonderful way to end the week.
We begin the next, still unbeaten.
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