I found yesterday’s game a strange one to digest and think about, in terms of formulating some post-match blog thoughts for this Monday morning. Strange because whilst we got the job done by getting the three points, we weren’t convincing at all in patches, but by the same token I didn’t think Bournemouth were that amazing either.
On the train home I also tried to think about the players performance on an individual level and if I’m honest, I couldn’t think of one player who’d been genuinely terrible. All of our players had been at least ‘alright’, so I found it hard to put my finger on where it went wrong.
Arsène made seven changes from the PSG side so perhaps there’s an argument that changes led to a lack of cohesion and understanding, but there wasn’t much of that in the middle of the park against PSG or United the week before, so you can hardly say that we disrupted our flowing form by rotating the squad. In came Xhaka, Elneny, Monreal and the Ox, out went Iwobi, Coquelin, Giroud, Ramsey, Gibbs and even Jenkinson for the lesser-spotted-Debuchy. A player whom we’d forgotten existed. Sadly, he lasted less than 15 minutes and perhaps as a metaphor for his Arsenal career, he was off due to injury before we’d had the chance to see him. I must say I thought it bizarre that Jenkinson wasn’t even on the bench, especially when we’re playing a right back who is injury prone and hasn’t made a first team appearance in over a year. I also found it puzzling why Mustafi – who has played right back for his country – was not preferred to Gabriel as an option to shift across, but I suspect that had more to do with Arsène not wanting to break up the band in the heart of the defence.
To be fair to Gabriel he did ok, so given the circumstances I think we can be pleased, but it means Jenkinson will get another shot whether Arsène likes it or not. If I was in Jenkinson’s shoes though, I’d be well aware that this is now a shop window season, because it’s clear Arsène doesn’t fancy him. I can kind of understand that. If you get beyond the affection we all have for The Corporal because he’s one of us, he is the next level down in terms of quality, and so I can see why Debuchy was brought back in.
But anyway, back to the actual game, which was a strange one. Our gift of a first goal from the Bournemouth right back was countered only by the gift of a penalty from Mike Jones, who had a few dubious decisions he made all day. Bournemouth had been very Arsenal up until that point and until half time, having the ball and popping it around well, but not really threatening Cech too much. We seemed to be in control in the first half, aside from a five minute window after they scored their ‘penalty’, so when I went inside the stands to catch up with a few of the guys for a half time de-brief, I didn’t really know whether to have a moan or just shrug it all off.
I guess that’s the problem with football – there’s not really ever any black or white, just varying shades, when it comes to player/human performance. Yes, we weren’t great, but we weren’t terrible either.
The second half was a bit better though. We still looked a little edgy at times after we’d gone ahead again, but aside from one Benito Afobe shot, all I really remember is a couple of penalty appeals.
Perhaps Eddie Howe was right and there wasn’t very much between the teams. Except of course that we have somebody like Alexis. Two goals, both very poachery, and our Chilean is up to double figures this season. Arsène talked him up post-match yesterday saying he’s always got another gear. I hope we’ve got another ‘0’ on his contract, because we need to keep him, especially when he’s in this kind of form. He’s a player who could look like he’s not in the game, looks slightly off and you question how tired he is, yet he can change a game in an instant and doesn’t need many chances to put the ball in the back of the net. The contract talk is going to rumble on and on whilst we tick through the season, but whilst I’m starting to become less convinced he’ll sign, Arsène is putting on a brace face and talking positively. Let’s just hope there’s some substance behind the positivity.
Let’s also have a bit of a tip of the cap for Giroud too, who notched an assist in injury time. He’s becoming quite the impact sub and his ball to Alexis was perfectly weighted for the Chilean to tap home the goal that secured the three points. There’s a reason why Alexis went in to full missionary position on Giroud with the celebration; the ball from Olivier made his job very easy indeed.
Aside from that, there really isn’t much to say, because ultimately we got the win and we’ll soon be able to see the back of the dreaded month of November. It’s Southampton in midweek in the EFL cup, followed by West Ham away, so hopefully this winning run can keep stretching on and we can start to hunt down Chelski at the top.
See you tomorrow.