I thought yesterday was the archetypal ‘routine’ win for Arsenal yesterday which, given how tired I was feeling after a heavy night of booze and karaoke followed by an early get up for The Arsenal, is no bad thing.
One set piece free kick against the woodwork in the first half aside, we controlled possession of the ball, we got a relatively early goal which calmed the nerves, as well as the all-important second goal before the hour mark which effectively killed the game as a contest.
There was no worry. There was no fretting. There was just a job done.
So I was a little surprised to see so many people a bit cheesed off that we didn’t notch up more goals. I’d love a 6-0 thrashing of course, but our team these days just aren’t the kind of side who deliver on that kind of output. Ask yourself indeed the last time we won a match by a four goal margin. I can’t remember off the top of my head right now, but I’m pretty sure it’s been a while, so I’m looking more to how we controlled the outcome of the game rather than the number of goals we racked up.
And look, we’re not going to compete with the likes of City. They have too much firepower, they are too rich and their coach is a progressive tactician, so that’s not where we’re at. We’re a team fighting for fourth – something we used to be awesome at – so we need to accept that’s just who we are at the moment and just be pleased when we make it look comfortable against the smaller sides like yesterday.
I even saw somebody talking about the importance of goal difference, but when was the last time that decided anything?
As for the game itself, I thought we looked a little bit slow at times, but in the main we at least created chances from early on in the game. Lacazette was unlucky not to bag his third of the season with a shot that hit the inside of the post, Ramsey had an effort saved by the ‘keepers feet and Iwobi had a couple of tame shots down the ‘keepers throat. We were creating chances, we just couldn’t convert as many as we’d like and to be honest with you, I’d be more nervous if we weren’t creating anything at all.
No Koscielny gave an opportunity for Holding to start and I have to say a game against opponents like Brighton yesterday was probably exactly what he needed. He won a few aerial duels, his distribution looked good and Brighton never really troubled us, which meant he was afforded the comfort of a clean sheet and a confidence booster too. After the start to the season and the difficulty of the Liverpool game, it’s good to see he can start to recapture his form in a game like yesterday. Koscielny will return after the internationals but we’ll see him get more minutes against Norwich in the League Cup so hopefully he can keep up with the good work and build his confidence for when he inevitably will be needed in the league.
Mustafi was decent too but the stand out performer in the back three was Nacho. Even putting his goal aside because he was Mr Reliable once again and I find it amazing how he has adapted so well to this left centre-back role. He looks like he’s been playing it for years. It really is great to see and to get a goal like that yesterday too will only give him even more confidence.
Midfield was ok. Rambo was trying his whole “I can do Hollywood passes, me” thing and on a couple of occasions it didn’t quite work, but thankfully two relatively early goals in each half meant it didn’t become so much of a frustration inside the stadium, as it did eye-rolling moments.
And so to Iwobi. A man who seems to have the ability to wriggle past four players in to a brilliant position, before essentially back passing it to the opposition ‘keeper, which drives a body to distraction I can tell ya. But then he goes and leathers a ball past the ‘keeper in the second half and you wonder why on earth he doesn’t show that level of composure normally. I guess he’s still young and so he has time to work on his finishing, but if he could be more deadly in the final third, we’d have a heck of a player on our hands.
I actually thought he started to fade – probably like most of the team actually – in the second half and just before he scored his goal I was remarking that his movement had almost ceased. So I’ll take the credit of the ‘commentators curse’ for him doubling our advantage.
Let’s also give some props to Alexis for the back heel that set Iwobi up. It was a sublime bit of skill on a day in which he frustrated me personally again. I didn’t think he had a great game at all and I’m wondering if this is becoming a form or a fitness thing now. He holds on to the ball too long at times and that backheel and a decent shot saved off the line by the heel of a defender aside I don’t think he gave us his best display.
Still, like the whole team and everyone yesterday, we didn’t really have to put on our best display, so it didn’t matter too much.
And now we find ourselves climbing up the table to be level on points with Chelski and Liverpool. We’re one behind the Spuds and we’ve already played three tough away games. After a pretty dreadful start to the season the team appears to be getting back in to the swing of things and thankfully we are now in a position where we can start feeling a little more comfortable going in to this current international break.
Enjoy your Monday. Up The Arsenal.