Arsenal’s winning streak came to an end yesterday after our attempts to break down Chelsea’s defense proved fruitless. And look, it’s not the worst way to end our run: we battled a point from the inevitable champions, while dominating the Blues in territory and possession. Yes, the result plays into Mourinho’s hands more than into Arsene’s, however, our chances of catching up always looked slim, even more so after Chelsea managed to grind out all three points against United. But I maintain yesterday’s draw can prove very valuable to us in the end.
Arsenal are now joint third, two points above United and level with City. But we have a home game against Sunderland in hand. Not a bad place to be in, considering the way our campaign kicked off.
Much like against Burnley, though for different reasons entirely, not much actual football happened during the 90 minutes, so I’ll just concentrate on points of interest.
Arsene named an unchanged side from his previous two PL games. Mertesacker was deemed fit and was reinstated straight away, Bellerin was preferred to Debuchy and Rambo had another outing on the right. All these players had a very good game. Mertesacker was solid throughout, dominating the air completely even after Drogba came on.
Ramsey, though by no means a winger, played nicely. Some of his lovely flicks kept our attacks ticking under difficult circumstances and his all-round game was much better than against Burnley. The Welshman looked better still when moved infield for the remaining ten minutes of the game. I especially enjoyed his ability to run past defenders with the ball, when Cazorla and Ozil struggled to do that all game. Aaron greatly reminded me of Wilshere in that regard.
Finally, Bellerin for Debuchy. While it’s not indicative of anything just yet, it was interesting to set the Spaniard get the nod. Does that mean he has become our number 1 or was it just because Debuchy needed a rest after playing 120 minutes against Reading? We’ll have our answer next week.
If the scales are tipped in Bellerin’s favour, I won’t be worried in the slightest. Hector had a brilliant game. Much like Coquelin, he has proved indispensable since the turn of the year. Both demonstrated consistency and ability to cope with whatever opposition, so I won’t lose any sleep should Bellerin win the race for that right-back spot. When a man keeps the player of the year in his pocket for the entire game, then he’s ready to play week in, week out.
While not MoM for me (Bellerin stole the show), the German is definitely my pick for player of the month. Even yesterday, when space was scarce and goalscoring opportunities hard to come by, Mesut created three chances, made 107 touches (most any on-pitch player mastered) and completed 71 out of 76 passes. Instrumental.
Yes, he missed that late chance. I have to see the replays again, but I think shooting was never on Ozil’s mind. He tried a dummy in the hopes of Welbeck ticking it away, so I’d sooner blame Welbeck than Ozil.
“I think Giroud is doing extremely well. But can you win the league with him? I wouldn’t think so”.
“He does a job, and he does it ever so well, but you can’t win the league.
“Arsenal were at the top of the league last season, but everyone was saying they are not going win the league.
“I think they need to buy four players – they need that spine. They need a goalkeeper, they still need a centre back, they still need a holding midfielder and, I’m afraid, they need a top, top quality striker to win this league again.
“He [Arsene Wenger] has to do it. You need to have this competitive thing within the group – to win the league, that has to happen.”
“Players need to perform, also. I will single out Mesut Ozil. Against a top-four team, that was his eighth game today – zero goals and two assists,” he added.
“That is not enough. Overall, since he has been at Arsenal, he has 14 assists. You look at Cesc Fabregas, he has 16 assists in one season. Players at one point need to perform.”
What a load of bollocks! Forgive me, but it’s true. And it makes me very sad to see Henry a) jumping on the bandwagon b) expressing common opinion without giving it much thought or analysis. Let me dissect this steaming pile of, erm, dung.
First up, Giroud. Only a week ago Henry was hailing the Frenchman, one game later, a game, in which Giroud was denied space, marked by two to three defenders at a time and basically devoid of service and wham! Suddenly Giroud had become not good enough for Henry. Let’s just ignore the fact he played against one of the most organized defenses in the world and forget about 18 goals in 28 games, shall we?
I won’t dwell on Mesut Ozil. His contribution goes far beyond goals and assists, yesterday he was among the best performers anyway and if Henry fails to see it, then I guess he should reconsider being a pundit. Or Sky should ask themselves a question why this man is being paid millions when he struggles to see the obvious.
Finally, “the spine of the team”.
Let me make myself perfectly clear: if an opportunity to snatch up someone like Lloris comes along, then I’d sell Szczesny in a heartbeat. But the newcomer will have to earn his place, in my opinion. Ospina has done nothing wrong. If Szczesny stays, then no, we don’t need a new keeper.
The acquisitions of Gabriel and Chambers combined with Mertesacker’s top performance yesterday should have flown under Thierry’s radar, otherwise he wouldn’t have said we need another defender.
We’ll only need one if Mert leaves. And the new guy should be behind at least Gabriel in the pecking order, maybe even Chambers. So even if BFG departs, the need won’t be very pressing.
As back-up to Coquelin, we probably need one. As long as Arteta leaves. Otherwise, we don’t. Haven’t Henry been paying attention to how well Coq played? That he is, indeed, statistically superior to ANY screener in the BPL? Or does Henry only bring up the numbers when they confirm what he says?
Just read my article (link). We don’t (and we most likely won’t) buy a striker. It will signal an end to either Akpom’s or Sanogo’s career, greatly diminish Welbeck’s chances, consign a brilliant Giroud to the bench and may even affect Sanchez.
Oh, about Sanchez… Thierry remembers we still have the Chilean? Maybe he also remembers Sanchez was bought AS A CENTRE FORWARD?
Regarding what Wenger should or shouldn’t do. Thierry has been under the Frenchman’s guidance long enough to know better than advising Arsene. Wenger always does things his way, he never buys for the sake of buying and he rarely listens to anyone else’s opinion. For better or for worse, that’s just how he is (link).
Thierry’s comments deeply sadden me. Mostly because I love the man for everything he’s done at, and for, Arsenal. From what I’ve seen and heard so far, he’s been pretty average at punditry. (link) Just the other day I said that, while he may turn out to be an average pundit, at least he’s on our side. That he’ll shield Arsene and his players from (often unjust) criticism on TV. And here we are. Henry criticizing the players, the manager and just basically jumping on the bandwagon. Without looking at a broader picture, without saying anything new or exciting. What a shame.
I’ve seen a healthy portion of criticism aimed at how we weren’t good enough to win the game and I find it strange. You can’t realistically expect the team to win every game, and it’s not like we’ve suffered a humiliating loss yesterday. We got a point against soon-to-be-champions by demonstrating some maturity and determination. The way Chelsea celebrated the draw tells you who was closer to winning the game.
As I said, it can turn out to be a valuable point indeed, so I see no need to chastise the team for the performance or, indeed, the result. Leave it to the TV pundits.
Have yourselves a good week!