I usually write a blog the day after a game. However, yesterday I just wanted to enjoy the moment of what I had witnessed on Sunday. I had always felt based on my earlier article last week that we had a real chance certainly with the new look defensive minded midfielder in Francis Coquelin and the fact that they were missing much of their crunch in the middle in Yaya Toure.
Obviously there was so much to talk about the game and most things I am sure have been covered and praised, its great that finally and for the first time in ages Arsenal are being raved about in the press again. Gary Neville has said that it was one of the best defensive displays in the Premier League. And regardless of what you thought of him as a person he knew how to defend, just ask Jose Antonio Reyes. I think Neville still has his leg on the wall as a momento.
For me, what I see as hugely significant is that we now after so long can show that we are not just so one dimensional. Fans have been calling out for years that we need a ‘Plan B’ when the Arsenal way lead by Wenger was failing and it never came. Obviously this is only one game, and we will need to follow it up again when this style of play is required to really believe that it wasn’t just a fortunate result. What it does show though is that perhaps Wenger is changing his mentality to realise that the Arsenal way is so well rehearsed by the big sides that walloped us last year as they knew exactly how to beat us, and beat us well. I think the game on Sunday will now put an element of doubt as to which Arsenal will turn up. The silky fast moving side that can leave themselves open to attack, or the side we saw on Sunday that looked steely, gritty and well up for any physicality that may been thrown at us.
Regardless of the score, how we battered City physically when usually they have the beating of us in that respect was what pleased me most. Even without Toure they had Fernando and Fernandinho plus Milner all there for the grittiness of the game, and we had Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Sanchez. Midfield is where we won the game. That’s for sure. With those 4 plus the magical feet of Cazorla.
Also you must say that our defensive resolve also added to the win. It’s not often this season we could say that but I think slowly this unit is learning how to play together. Anyone who has played the game at any level will admit that constant changes to personnel week in week out especially in the defence helps nobodies confidence as you need to trust what you fellow man is going to do more than any other position. To me it was an old school look. We had Mertesacker punting the ball like he is mouthing the word ‘have it’ and that was in the first half, and we often had 2 banks of 4 players defending against any attack they had with Coquelin pretty much Coq blocking any chance they had. You could see how committed they all were, players like Bellerin who is just a kid and Monreal who gets his critics more often than not putting in a brilliant shift.
Just a quick one on Sanchez, even though no goal or assist this week he gave Zabeleta, who is arguably one of the best full backs in the world, a torrid time beating him on pretty much every occasion. Lovely to see.
Also, I thought Sagna had a good game…
I know that the title is probably beyond reach but as I said at the start of the season that with this many good players now in our squad its only a matter of time till it starts to click. Sunday moves us a lot closer to our goal in terms of resilience and us to be a far better side for the final 16 game run-in.
I think it was also the perfect tonic to go into the FA Cup 4th round week of fixtures. I would expect this week for there to be a lot of activity in regards to our transfers if we are to do any business at all. The fact that we won at City means that we do not need to focus on any negatives and the manager can get on with who to bring in knowing that he is probably going to play a lot of players who didn’t play on Sunday in the game against Brighton. We can give everyone a real good rest before the next Premier league game against Aston Villa at home and giving any new players that he brings in a bit of time to bed in. There is a lot of talk about Paulista, and also Reid. I would pretty much be certain that the DM Krystian Bielik we are finalising this week will pretty much end any further speculation in that regard especially with the Coquelin resurgence and Flamini as further back up, I just cannot see us strengthening this area further till at least the summer.
Just on a point, Coquelin to me is the player that Flamini wants to be or thinks he is. He was an absolute animal on Sunday where I find Flamini marches out orders but doesn’t really have the clout to back it up and nobody really seems to care what he has to say. He’s a passenger. A rolled up sleeved angry possession losing passenger.
That’s all for today, enjoy day two of gloating as we really were that good!!!