Three points won on the road, and a clean sheet to boot. A good start to the weekend for Arsenal, and hopefully a sign of things to come in December. With seven games to be played, we will need to be at our best, especially since our next game is against the high flying and very dangerous looking Southampton.
While the victory is certainly pleasing, there are a few concerns as well. We dominated the game as usual, but without the Ox we sometimes lacked the pace and direct running that was seen in the game against Dortmund. Ramsey, though he tried hard, was nowhere near his best and Santi Cazorla was also very wasteful in front of goal though he made up for it in other areas. Giroud looked out of sorts and with Sanchez comparatively less visible than in other games, we struggled to find the finishing touch, despite having three quality forwards on the field.
Our defence was more stable, though maybe that was partly because West Brom were so reluctant to attack. The good news was the return of Koscielny, who performed very well; but it was balanced by the knocks picked up by Monreal and later on, Gibbs.
This brings us to the major problem at the club. We cannot play a single game without losing players to injury. We simply cannot. Against United, we lost Wilshere and Szczesny. Against Dortmund, it was Arteta and Sanogo. Yesterday, Monreal had to be taken off and Gibbs and the Ox both picked up painful knocks. What is it with Arsenal and injuries?? Why so many and so consistently? At this rate, by the end of December Wenger will need to buy a whole new team.
The manager seemed unperturbed by these problems however when he addressed the press conference yesterday. He complimented the solid performance and the work rate of the players and also praised the two clean sheets the team have picked up. The injury problems were just a footnote and Wenger promised further updates later.
In the end our solidarity got us through when the legs went in the last 10 minutes. Maybe we were a fraction lucky on the crossbar, but overall it’s a well-deserved win. We had a clean sheet against Dortmund and we had one today. We had three very good games in the week, one against Manchester United, one against Dortmund and one today. Unfortunately against Manchester United we didn’t win but our performance was there. Defensively we were maybe a bit more stable today but I think against Dortmund we had a very good defensive performance.
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Cazorla’s class got us that goal. He had a few opportunities in the first half. He cannot finish at the moment but in providing he is still top class.
We can let people talk [about the club’s performances]. We live in a society of total opinion but we live off what we do, not what we say. What we do is on the football pitch.
Wenger also said that Welbeck playing out of the central role was not a problem, and that the team was set up such that all players had a chance to get in on goal.
He’s a striker. He plays left, right, central. For me that’s not important. We have so many crosses coming in that there are always chances if you play on the flanks as well.
Injuries aside, it was a pleasing performance, although the scoreline could have been better. Now the team must prepare for the packed month ahead, especially the upcoming game against the Saints. They are a serious contender, and we need to beat them if we are to prove that we can still challenge for a top four finish. I just hope we don’t lose any more players in that game.