Three lovely, juicy, delicious points. Don’t you just love them?
It doesn’t matter who the team is, or how much form they do or don’t have, I always have nerves that we’re going to bugger up a result. It’s funny because if you looked at all of the games Arsenal have played over the last few seasons, we win more than lose, so more often than not we’re happy people. But I still feel like we lose or draw a lot more than we win and yesterday I didn’t say it on the blog, but I thought this might be one of those games in which Hull skank us by scoring from a scabby set piece or deflected shot.
What’s also tended to make that feeling of dread worse, is that it feels like the Arsenal of the last couple of seasons don’t tend to score too many early goals. It has felt to me like we’ve been slow starters in matches. Yet yesterday, from the off, we were at it and our early pressure paid off within 20 minutes. Iwobi – magnificent all day – should have had the goal credited to him, but that cheeky little rapscallion Alexis stuck out a foot and bagged himself another one this season. If we’re going to make moves on the title this season, we’re going to need 25 goals from him at least and with two yesterday, he’s well on the way.
I loved his second goal too, because it showed just how composed he can be in front of goal. When Walcott’s shot hit the ‘keeper, there was still another defender in front of him, plus two on the line and the goalie to beat, but he picked his spot lovely and after we’d conceded a penalty to bring it back to 2-1, that’s the perfect response. At the time I had a bit of the old ‘squeaky bum’ when we conceded the penalty, but we only had to endure that for a couple of minutes, so you have to be happy with the response of the players.
And the response of Theo this season deserves some recognition too. It’s like it’s I ally sunk in to him that he doesn’t just have to be a goalscorer. He can contribute to the team by showing the effort in tracking back, being stronger on the ball, as well as chipping in with assists and goals. It feels like he’s had a proper word with himself and for that, we can all be grateful. He scored a composed goal yesterday, was involved in a number of chances and his situation can hopefully be used as inspiration for the Ox. Theo looked done as an Arsenal player last season, but he’s worked hard, scored goals and I think he’s a regular starter for the foreseeable future. Good on you lad!
Perhaps the game was made easier for us due to the Livermore sending off, but I thought we would have won the game comfortably anyway, because we just seemed to click yesterday. The passing was crisp, in the final third we looked like we were a lot more incisive and Hull never really managed to contain us like they did with United a couple of weekends back. It was exactly the kind of response after the poor performance against PSG and if the rotated squad can do the business against Forest in midweek, we’ll go in to the Chelski game next weekend full of confidence.
I do hope that nobody except Santi takes any more penalties though. Alexis and Theo have both fluffed their lines and I know Alexis probably fancied he could get a hat trick, but he is not our designated penalty taker and he needed to step back and let Santi have that yesterday. I don’t know why we’re so pants at taking penalties. Perhaps it’s the footballing gods calling time on our fortune in that area, after we went years with Lee Dixon and Lauren who never seemed to miss any penalties. It must be the football karma gods saying “come on folks, you’ve had years of good pens, it’s time you took your medicine”.
I think that pretty much all of the players yesterday had a good game. Nacho was caught out once or twice on our left hand side, but nothing really came of it, so it’s a case of ‘no harm, no foul’ I think. I do wonder if a good performance by Gibbs on Tuesday will give Arsène something to think about though. Competition, eh? Isn’t it lovely?
Anyway, back to the game, and the performance of the team. I think like many of us I was surprised by the selection decisions to leave out Xhaka again. Arsène talks of bringing him in and getting him up to speed, but if you can’t do that in games like Hull away, when is the guy going to get a chance? When he did come on, he misplaced a couple of passes, but that sometimes happens when players in the middle of the park come on from the subs bench in to the engine room of the team. But what a finish from him to add a bit of glass on the result, eh? I didn’t read much in to his celebration, but certainly don’t think it was directed at the manager, because Xhaka isn’t that stupid to cheese off the guy who picks the team.
So Coquelin and Santi remain our anchor and, whilst it’s not ideal to the likes of you and I, the manager has a winning team so we can hardly complain if he doesn’t change it. I suspect he’ll keep the players for the Chelski game, but even though Alexis Scored two goals yesterday, it still didn’t quite feel right having him through the middle. Perhaps however, Arsène has his eye on the Chelski game and is intending on having a more mobile front three for that match? It would certainly make sense when you consider that Cahill and Terry both much prefer playing against the less mobile Giroud and if our front three can rotate more, we might get more joy. Still, there’s a week of pondering on that, before we play that bunch of scummers.
One final point I noted yesterday, which was how Mustafi and Koscielny were cut open for the Hull penalty, which is happening with alarming regularity. If we allow that lot next weekend the same kind of space, Costa will have a field day, so I’m hoping we see less of it if I’m honest.
In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my Sunday, in Northumberland with the Management.