It’s a little difficult to say without having watched yesterday’s game in its entirety due to family commitments, but having watched a couple of highlights on yesterday’s 5-2 victory at Everton, I feel relatively confident in saying that it was the best performance of the season by the players up at Goodison.
In fact, given the way the team played against the Toffees, I’m wondering if it’s one of the best performances of the last couple of years, and I’ll give some context to that statement too.
Firstly, we created chances; a lot of chances. Ramsey, Özil, Alexis, Lacazette, all had plenty of different chances and given that we scored five and pundits were saying it should have been more, it serves to show just how dominant Arsenal were from start to finish.
We also passed the ball with pace and that’s something that I’m taking massive positives from in yesterday’s game, because got so many seasons I have seen an Arsenal team who haven’t exhibited what was standard opperating procedure for Arsène Wenger teams for about a decade. I saw one touch passes. I saw passes through the lines. I saw movement and players hitting space. I saw what we all believe we should be seeing every week. If that Arsenal team showed up every week then people wouldn’t be talking about the Totts alongside Man City, they’d be talking about us too.
We were dominant from start to finish but as is the Arsenal way we were behind to Everton’s first real venture forward and shot on target. Wayne Rooney is increasingly looking like a player in decline, but of course against us he seems to get goal after goal and so perhaps there was an air of inevitability about his wonder strike from 30 yards. It was a decent enough finish but Xhaka getting caught out in possession is another worrying notch against him in a season in which it feels like a game doesn’t go by without him costing us. He needs somebody near him within about 10 yards to release the ball under pressure and with the Ramsey partnership not being one in which he’ll get that support I fear that we’ll continue to see these mistakes happening.
Perhaps it was the fact we’d already created so many chances though, because all the goal did was focus the Arsenal players into dominating possession and dictating the pattern of play and now in the cold light of the next day it feels kind of obvious that we would go on and get more goals.
Everton are a team in trouble. The high tempo and pressing that has been so synonymous with Everton sides of the past just wasn’t there. They say off and let Arsenal control the game and that was all the invitation the players in black needed. The second half brought more of the same and with Mesut Özil pulling the strings we looked like a team of players whose commitment and character had been tested. The second goal scored by Özil was a counter attacking move of beauty and had all of the major players involved in the build up. Alexis, Lacazette and the German all had a part to play and whilst the sending off shortly afterwards allowed us to then go on and utterly dominate, in truth we probably would have gone on and got the third anyway.
Lacazette bagged his first away goal of the season and the strike was so very composed I think I enjoyed it the most of all the goals because it was the sort of position where we’ve seen too many Arsenal players blaze over from in recent history. I love seeing him in the box because he’s so deadly and the last time we had a player like that was RvP. And just think – this is his ‘bedding in’ period!
Perhaps people will talk about how ponderous Everton are and yes, they lacked invention and confidence, but we were good. The kind of good that I’d love to see every week. We looked like we had structure, drive and purpose, as well as composure in front of goal.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that our theee star players were all on the pitch for the first time this season? If that is the case then those three need to be wrapped up in cotton wool and wheeled out for every game in the league from now on and we need to see a team built up to be better defensively so they can do their stuff in the final third of the pitch.
So we have a happy Monday for Gooners everywhere and a game tomorrow in which we can rotate once again against Norwich before we play Swansea on Saturday in that rarest of things: a 3pm kick off.
Catch you tomorrow.