I’ve wanted us to give a team a pasting for such a long time. Other sides at the top of the table had been doing it, but we hadn’t quite put anybody to the sword just yet domestically. November came and went and we had looked to have lost a little bit of the spark we had in October. But if that dreaded month had afforded us slim pickings, performances-wise, yesterday was like when you first open up your Milkybar advent calendar. Arsenal were, quite simply, delicious yesterday.
West Ham had their injury problems and started the game fielding an unknown youngster up top, which led me to thinking of fearful parrallels to the United game at Old Trafford last season, but after about 15 minutes I knew it would not be the same. We were dominant pretty much from the first whistle. Arsène named the expected changed side from midweek, bringing all of the big guns back, but also gave opportunities for Xhaka and the Ox to prove themselves. And both did.
I find the Ox an enigma of a player. Yesterday’s game he was exceptional at times. He ran at defenders, was able to beat a man or two, yet at times his final ball brought a tear to an Arsenal fans eyes. At times he was so wasteful. But he didn’t hide. He didn’t shrink in to his skin and instead kept going, eventually getting his reward with a fine strike to restore our three goal cushion in the second half. He’s bagged six goals already this season. A season in which he’s been dreadful at times. A season in which his end product is still considered wasteful, yet the best gauge of a player’s end product is goals and he’s already bagged a load. It’s just weird. I can’t work it out. Good on him though. After yesterday’s performance, I expect we’ll see him again next weekend against Stoke and he’s deserved a starting place.
Xhaka too was grand. His composure on the ball, keeping things ticking over, finding long passes, that occasion outside-of-the-boot he does, all looked great and surely Arsène is now at the stage where he can’t leave the guy out?
But whilst those two were great, nobody on the pitch got near Alexis, who was simply sensational. He does lose the ball a bit in every game, but if that is the price you pay for a guy who has touches that come off and lead to goals like the second he got, then I’d pay that fee any day of the week. He’s majestic and yesterday was unplayable. His finishing was spot on, his link play was good, heck, he even weighed in with an assist by giving Mesut a tap-in to put us one up in the first half. With him playing like this we’re a totally different animal. He’s now had a few months to ‘bed in’ as a central striker and we are all reaping the rewards. His third goal yesterday was like something you try to do on the playground. A cheeky reverse step over, then giving the ‘keeper the eyes, then notching a hat trick. The guys a magician at times. He runs all day, he can finish, some of his flicks are outrageous, plus his first touch is beyond comprehension. He can turn an opposition player with one touch and a shimmy of his body. All of the media pundits are going on about Aguero, Costa, Hazard and Coutinho, but my completely biased red-tinted specs tell me that the only players worthy of comparison with our Chilean, currently lead the attacks for Barcelona and Real Madrid at the moment. Alexis is that good right now.
Sign him up. Pay him in dog food if he wants it. Give his dogs pet insurance, dog houses, free grooming sessions, private boxes at the Emirates. We don’t care. We just need him to sign a new deal.
We need to keep him fit for as much of the season as possible. He needs to be put into some kind of cryogenic chamber until Friday. Or at lest nobody tell him we’ve got a meaningless Champions League game in midweek. We need him well-rested for The orcs in a week’s time.
Everything clicked yesterday. Mesut may not be getting the assists, but his game has evolved and he’s getting goals, much like the rest of the team actually. In 38 Premier League games last season we got 101 goals in total. We’re five games away from the halfway point in the season and we’re already on 47. I know there’s a long way to go and we may still get dry periods, but right now we’re looking so much more productive as a team. The Ox is getting some, Theo has been bagging them, Alexis has, as well as Mesut. Goals are coming from different sources and that can only be a good thing for our form and hopes of competing for the title.
Chelski’s win yesterday sent out a message, but our away victory volleyed a message back, I think. Granted the calibre of the opposition was hardly comparative, but we did what we needed to do and some, so there’s not a gooner out there today who couldn’t be a happy soul on a Sunday after a performance like that.
We march on to Basel in midweek, in which I hope we play the squad players, then it’s at home to Stoke. Things are suddenly starting to look good. Well done to the players.