Yesterday, we talked about the long slow journey it is to right a ship going in the wrong direction. We wondered if Sunday’s fightback draw against Man City was a step in the right direction or just another series of steps backwards. We now look at our 3-0 win over West Ham and think maybe, just maybe we’re at least going to look respectable again.
Still, we need to see a level of consistency that we haven’t seen for the last month and half and as we look at these takeaways from yesterday, we hope that there is more of this to come.
As Mesut Özil goes, so goes Arsenal
People often look at Alexis Sanchez and talk about the fact that Arsenal will only go as far as Alexis Sanchez will carry them. It probably won’t come as a surprise, but I am not one of those people. I love Alexis and I truly hope he stays at Arsenal but there are so many flaws in his game that frustrate me.
The real impetus and engine for Arsenal is the one people love to hate this year, Mesut Özil. His way of playing the game has never suited the purist fire and brimstone types that English football breeds. His languid, cerebral approach to football labels him as lazy and not showing enough heart.
But if you watch him long enough you know what he does often dictates how the team plays. For sure Özil has flaws – all players do. But when things Mesut Özil does well are clicking he is a player with which few can hold a candle to.
Last night I saw things in Özil’s game that hadn’t been there for a while. He was looking to exploit space behind the opposition midfield, he looked to drag players out wide to create gaps, and he genuinely found time and space to be his creative self.
Was he perfect? No. Like the team he plays for, this was a player shorn of confidence and getting back is going to take some time. But his first goal of 2017 (10th of the season in all competitions) visibly took a weight off his shoulders and it seemed to remind him that yes, he is pretty damn good.
Part of this has to be about the next point we’ll make – the influence of Mohamed Elneny, but it also is because Mesut is, was and forever shall be a special player that we are lucky to have playing at Arsenal.
XhakaMo Midfield was Nice to behold
Since the time when Santi Cazorla went down to injury, Arsene has struggled to find the right balance for the Arsenal midfield. He has persisted with the wild rampant nature of Francis Coquelin alongside Granit Xhaka for the majority of the time and it clearly hasn’t worked.
Part of the reasoning for that I suspect is that Elneny has either been injured or on duty for Egypt and Ramsey has also been injured.
Yesterday though, we got a chance to see Mo and Granit alongside each other and it stabilized and often erratic midfield.
What Elneny has that a Coquelin doesn’t (besides an array of passing ability and speed) is a sense of where he is and what is going on around him. When Xhaka was pushing up, Eleny floated back a little.
Elneny and Xhaka both were viable options as that first pass from the center backs to transition the ball forward. Usual recipients of the passes were either Özil skirting along the line between the opposition midfield and back 4 or out on the wings to the wide player.
Defensively they were also assured and relaxed and for Xhaka who needs to learn to stay on his feet, this was a big accomplishment.
Are either as dynamic as Santi? Of course not. But right now we don’t need dynamic, we need stability and they provided it. Let’s hope Arsene keeps this tandem together.
Yes its better but general feelings shouldn’t change
Look, I am happy for a win. I love seeing our players happy and enjoying themselves. But this win doesn’t suddenly mean we have to or should forget everything that is currently wrong at the club.
It gives us a brief respite and maybe the conversations today are a little more jovial then they have been in the last 6 to 8 weeks. But there remain systemic problems at Arsenal that have to be addressed.
It would be foolish of either the board, the manager, the players and fans – to suddenly think everything is alright again, because it’s not.
Let’s not mistake this win as a panacea for what ails Arsenal. Serious changes are still required if we are to regain our status as one of the Premier clubs in Europe.
How big a dick is Martin Atkinson? How big a dick is Martin Atkinson? How the hell do you miss 2 dead certain penalties and a third that a lot of refs normally call? Oh, because you’re a dick named Martin Atkinson.
PGMOL sort this buffoon out.
Extra Extra Time
I don’t care what you say but Olivier Giroud is a sexy beast who scores when he wants. He’s averaging a goal every 89 minutes or some stupid stat like that. Last night’s to really kill West Ham was a thing of beauty and it’s only not being celebrated as such because it’s Olivier Giroud.
Sod off – that’s a damn good forward to have in your squad.