On a day when the leader of the platoon lets you down, you need men from the rank-and-file to rise to the occasion to salvage the day from berthing in a calamituous aqua. Like on the 17th of May, today we were lucky to have three.
- Alexis Sanchez
Oxlade-Chamberlain says this amazing Chilean is the most hardworking Arsenal player in training and though we’ve always known that right from his first game in August, today was another revelation of Alexis capacity to dictate the play… and save the day. By a brilliant weave of his feet, he made space for himself to beat Steve Harper from a tight angle for our lead, a repeat of that brilliance – this time, with more magic – teed up Danny Welbeck for the equalizer. He may have done better with the Chamberlain cut-back immediately after his goal but his overall play was the reason we got anything out of this game – goals and points. He played like he was part of that FA Cup in May. Amongst other things, Alexis made a case for him to be considered as the option for the Number 10 role in Ozil’s absence. That extra bit of trickery in his locker is certainly needed and seeing how easily he runs off his markers, it would work well that while he is on the prow, there are three runners giving him options for a pass, as he sometimes does for the Chilean National team.
- Danny Welbeck
He had not an awful lot to prove today, with his form universally agreed by neutrals to have improved from his pedigree at United. But proving yourself every game is part of being an Arsenal player and with just the one goals in his four league games, Welbeck needed to show he was good enough to create his own history at the Emirates. In fairness, he didn’t recieve an overload of supplies today, but one may suggest the shot straight at Harper early in the first half would have resulted in something different were it from an Aguero or so. As it happened, Alexis was on hand to create something special as the Plan A hadn’t worked all afternoon, Welbz being in the right place at the time to finish off smartly with his left foot. He still has to improve on making more out of half chances, as well as making more of nuissance of himself in the opposition box. It may have worked against him that Oxlade-Chamberlain had started off on the left but even when the switch was made with Alexis, he wasn’t always available in the right areas. Good, though, that he was when it mattered most.
- Joel Campbell
Well, sort of.
You would have expected him to shoot directly at goal rather than attempt a pass when he brought the ball down chest in the box. The rebound cross from Cazorla’s saved effort was also somewhat underwhelming but the impact of Campbell’s pace was significantly instrumental. He may need to play much closer to goal to really hit the heights he’s been tipped for, but he can take much encouragement from knowing his introduction into the team has had a positive effect. Hopefully he’ll get considered more often in the coming games.
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