Five Things We Learned from Arsenal vs Norwich
Well, let’s face it, it was a win.
Arsenal grinded out a win, and they did it with minimal* fuss. A team that should have included a fully fit first team was hampered by some players returning from international duties with tired legs, while others manage to acquire themselves a severely contagious virus that apparently managed to lock down several countries. We apparently had several vaccines for it? And the countries gave the vaccinations for free? It seems like a good lot of the elite athletes haven’t heard about it. Maybe they should learn from the paralympic participants.
In any case, here’s five things we learned from the Norwich match!
*minimal as in, the stats suggest Norwich didn’t have a lot offensively going their way.
Believe it or not, I do think Xhaka is a good football player. I think he’s an even better athlete – and a very good leader. That being said, he’s also in the category of players that is so dominant in performance that if they’re fit, they play. Arsenal has, in many years, looked worse without Xhaka on the pitch, but yesterday Lokonga and AMN managed to pull the strings against a team that was flying last year in the Championship league. Not only did they do an okay job, they didn’t replicate what Xhaka usually do, but managed to play a new and more dynamic type of play. I’m sure this won’t be a reoccurring thing, but I like being able to finally see a desire to make Arsenal less Xhaka-dependant
Ramsdale is just a stand up guy
There’s a lot to like about Ramsdale, and there’s certainly going to be a lot of nice words for his performance, but first and maybe even more importantly, Aaron just seems like a good guy. From his enthusiastic reaction to the goal and the win to his effect on the calmness of the back line, he just seems like a guy you want to like. Maybe he can be our new Jenkinson? But. Like. Better performances that Jenko of course.
Minimal fuss in the back?
Teemo Pukki is very good at this football thing (and he used to play for Brøndby IF, which was my boyhood club), and he has this habit of making it very hard to be defenders because of his intelligent runs and directness. So keeping him this quiet for 90 minutes, only getting 12 passes, in which 25%, or 3 was off target, is a very good feat. White and Gabriel really looked good on the pitch, which usually has the knock-on effect of the players in front of them feeling more confident in not backing away at the slightest risk of a through ball. Of course Tomiyasu and Tierney also did well, but honestly I’m just happy with the central defenders work.
Pepe is better than that first half. Surely. He must be. But it seems like he has this inconsistency edge he really struggles to balance out. This time his first touch, a reoccurring problem, led many offensive moves to be neutralised early, which is really frustrating when you’re three matches into the season and still haven’t scored a goal. It’s not like Krul is an easy guy to get past as well. Finding his stride, this is Pepe’s chance to stamp down his place as a key figure. If he doesn’t, a front line consisting of Smith Rowe, Saka and Ødegaard is not a bad front line at all.
Oh Tomas, how do you do that thing so well?
Maybe everyone saw it, maybe it’s just my mind playing tricks, but every time I was Partey play, I’m waiting for him to hit that unexpected linebreaking pass. I honestly don’t know how he does it, if it’s sheer confidence or if he’s just the “hold my beer” type of player. Nonetheless, I’m just incredibly amazed by his ability to hide his pass.
I’m sure we all sat on the edge of our seat for this game. Some of us might even be left with a apathetic feeling of “it’s a win”. But it’s a step in the right direction, hopefully towards healing a turbulent start of the season. Luckily we now have the ability to calm down before the next match, which is against… Burnley.
Oh god not Burnley…