Captain’s Log star-date 1, 6, 8, 7 point 6.
I’ve been in the mood for a cheeseburger for a few weeks now. Not the sort we serve on the ship, a different sort. Maybe with a more exotic meat. Maybe we’ll boldly go and see what the Niberian wilderbeast tastes like. All in the name of exploration baby.
A good win on a bad pitch, the Palace game was on paper a formality, however as we all know, genuinely easy games in the league are few and far between.
Alan Pardew has reinvigorated Palace and they are a half decent team. They gave us a real scare in the last 5 minutes but we’re back where we belong, (this season) in the top four.
I expected them to try to harass our midfielders and dominate the middle of the park, so I was quite surprised by the tactics they employed.
Pressing us hard everywhere and especially in our final third was a good idea and they caused us problems, but ultimately they were problems we could handle, (except in the last 5 minutes).
The hard press was what cost them, because whilst it made the game a little scrappy, we have plenty of players with excellent close control who can work in tight spaces.
At times it also left their back four exposed to the counter. Quite often when we got forward their midfield was too far away to help defend. For me Giroud’s goal was a good example as we broke across the field and dragged their back 4 into a much longer line than they would have wanted. With no support from the midfield, when the ball dropped Olivier was able to get there first. I’d invite you to watch the goal again. You’ll notice that as Welbeck shoots, only the back four are in the box. Now contrast that with how many times we’ve seen teams pack out their box when we have possession in their final third. As I said, the hard press was a bold move but not a good one.
Alexis has a great chance to make it 3-0 just before the hour mark. Again this was as a result of us escaping from the hard press.
Defending our lead
From our perspective we had plenty of help from the midfield when defending. It allowed our back four to stay tight, especially in the last 20 minutes of the game.
What I liked yesterday was that we didn’t go chasing a 3rd goal as if it was 2-2. Too many times this season we’ve been caught out trying to score an unnecessary goal which has cost us in the end.
Yesterday we had a good lead and made life very hard for Palace and as it proved too hard in the end.
Wilshere & Walcott
I do wonder how Jack and Theo will fare on the bench. They will obviously struggle to regain their places in the starting 11 because the guys playing there now are doing a very good job.
Centrally Coquelin has been excellent and he deserves his place. He’s more disciplined than Jack and controls his aggression better.
On the right Danny Welbeck has bags of pace and is also better defensively than Theo. While he isn’t as good a goal scorer, his all round game is better.
Tough times ahead for the boys and I think Theo has a better chance of getting in the team regularly. For Jack I think he may have to wait for an injury, but this is Arsenal. There will always be injuries.
Just a quick word on Monaco. They’re boring. They don’t score too many and they don’t concede many either. They’re a different animal to the team we saw in pre-season because of the loss of Falcao but they’re still dangerous with the likes of Berbatov.
I know we all expect to get through the tie, but to be honest it still feels a little pointless to me. I’ve said on a previous blog that we’re not ready to take on Europe’s biggest teams. Madrid, Bayern, Barcelona etc are all still better than we are so Europe feels like an unnecessary distraction. It wouldn’t be the end of the world to suffer a narrow, controversial defeat and concentrate on the league and cup. Next year we can have a proper crack in Europe.