I haven’t exactly had the time to actually watch the game yet due to work travel commitments, so today’s blog is a little bit of a ‘helicopter view’ of what I think it means to us to have beaten United on our own patch yesterday.
It’s big. Real big. Potentially season defining big.
It is ultimately just three points and the reality is that we’re only just two clear of United in fifth and one away from the Tiny Totts in third, but for the momentum and positivity that a big win like yesterday gives I think this could hopefully have a big beating on our season.
By the sounds of it Unai Emery went ‘balls out’ with his line up, going super attacking and playing Özil, Ramsey, Auba and Laca in the same side. Whereas earlier in the season I was slightly critical of this approach because of the lack of cohesion of the team, it appears yesterday it worked, albeit with a little bit of riding our luck at times with United hitting the post on more than one occasion.
But whilst we can point to the fine margins there let’s not also forget that fine margins last weekend could have seen an Arsenal performance that was rewarded in the north London Derby so for me we take this win and use all of the positives of it to kick us on.
Granit Xhaka hitting the net in the first 15 minutes was crucial too I think. Scoring early in these games helps you to set the tone of the match and it will have ensured this didn’t descend in to the ‘one man wall’ show from David De Gea as we’ve seen in previous seasons. It forces the game in to more of a basketball match and when you look at the chance creation of both teams you can see that it’s how it played out.
Thankfully though we had some top performers and a decent save from Leno from Lukaku is just one example of how the team appears to have stepped up mentally to get this job done.
The same can be said for Aubameyang who, having missed a penalty last weekend, could have been forgiven for not taking. But he stepped up, put it away, meaning the ghost of the NLD has been banished and hopefully he can get back in to scoring form for us.
This win will have been huge for the team and the players. It sets up a fascinating prospect for Thursday and I think it gives Emery the opportunity to try this approach again on Thursday against Rennes. The task is tough but the team have put themselves in the best possible position.
Catch you all tomorrow.