Three Things We Learned from Arsenal v Everton
It hopefully was the start of our annual rescue mission. That run towards May where we put together a run of solid performances that gets us our get out of Jail Free Card and secures some sort of “consolation result” for having thrown it all away earlier in the season.
Arsenal’s 5-1 win over Everton continued a string of performances against the Merseyside outfit and here is Three Things we learned from that totally unexpected performance.
Arsenal are as good at home as they bad away
Go back to Tuesday (only for a moment.) It was an abject performance. Comical defending, lackluster attack and a general malaise that allowed Swansea to make us look utterly inept. Fast forward to yesterday and well, it wasn’t even close to the same team.
Away from the Emirates, Arsenal have won a paltry 3 from 13 matches (3W 4D 6L). At home it swings completely the opposite way with 10 wins in 13 (10W 2D 1L.)
When playing at the Emirates all facets of the game are working for the Gunners. They are average close to 3 goals scored per game at home (2.77) and are only average slightly over 1 goal per game (1.08) conceded. When they take this circus on the road it is monumentally worse – 1.15 goals scored per game versus 1.62 goals conceded.
Whatever the reason, playing at home in front of the Emirates crowd is a salve for all that is wrong for the Gunners. It could be something as simple as Wenger doesn’t know how to prepare his team to combat on the road. Or being on the road forces players out of their comfort zones.
Whatever the reason, Arsenal have to find someway to capture that home form on the road. Especially if they expect to get anything from this season.
Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang – oh yeah
Let’s break down each performance first. Henrik Mkhitaryan made his home debut with nothing more than 3 assists. For Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a goal (a delightfully offsides chip of the keeper) is exactly what we had hoped for (less the offsides) when it was announced we were signing him. All-in-all it was everything we wanted from the two Arsenal new boys.
For PEA, we saw a striker with pace and an understanding of how to run the gaps when play was coming forward. Before his goal he got onto a perfectly weighted Özil pass and charged forward, getting some distance between him and defenders and getting in on goal. Only a poor touch prevented from opening his account on that moment.
The movement for his goal was well just delicious. As the play starts he sees the ball coming forward into the final third. He is already placed perfectly between the two Everton centerbacks. As Mkhitarayan receives the ball and comes forward he spins across one defender to set himself free and latch on to Mkhi’s perfect pass. Yes he was offside, but the movement and the chip where some of the quality we’ve been missing up front.
As for Mkhitaryan, every time he got the ball at his feet he was a threat. He charged forward every time forcing defenders back deep into their zone. He assisted for three goals setting up Ramsey’s hat trick with inch perfect crosses that we perfectly put away by the Welshaman.
Some people may have focused on Aaron Ramsey’s hat trick as a MOTM of worthy moment, but it was the Aremenian’s engine that made things happen.
With regard to both players, Wenger put it best:
“Overall, the two players integrated our game well, and they look like they have played with us forever,” Wenger told a news conference. “Because they have similar qualities to what our game is about. They are technically good, they are quick. It was a convincing first performance.”
There is No “I” in Team
It may be a little thing or it may be a big thing but I’ve been watching player reaction to matches for some time. Yesterday, one thing stood out even from our new players – the focus on talking up team was large yesterday.
In the wake of the Alexis Sanchez transfer, there were stories about how he wasn’t a generally likeable player with his teammates. He looked selfish on the pitch and often kept to himself. There were stories of a bust up with Laurent Koscielny. Overall, it could be said that part of the problem was keeping Alexis as long as we did.
I am a coach myself and I know weaknesses and strengths, one of the things I’ve tried to get my players to believe in is the concept of team. It is a powerful tool and everyone pulling together can be used to achieve (Iook at the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl) something.
It could be nothing, it could’ve just been a moment, but I wonder if we can take a bigger step forward now that we have a group of players that seem intent on playing for each other. All with points to prove.
Regardless, it should be an interesting ride.
Being an Arsenal supporter these days is to mean you lead a jaded and pessimistic sport life. That’s why after watching Aaron Ramsey’s performance yesterday I am left with a lingering thought that this was a the start of a run to put himself in the window for show.
We are 18 months from his contract expiring and there hasn’t been any movement towards a new deal for the Welshman. Some whispers are out there that he is unhappy that he is not as appreciated as Jack Wilshere (who has arguably performed better and done more than.) Some thoughts are that he could consider a move abroad to prove a point.
With no word around the possibility of a new deal, its quite possible that we are seeing the start of the Aaron Ramsey farewell tour