Finally. A win. A pretty good performance with a threadbare squad. Another Ozil assist, his 12th in 14 outings. Only thing lacking was the clean sheet, one which would have taken Cech level with James and one which he thoroughly deserved.
It wasn’t our best performance, granted. After the 1st half we didn’t look any more convincing than we did vs Norwich or West Bromwich, though we should still have been 1-0 up. However, this was a win the team desperately needed to get November out of the system and we achieved just that.
As always, I’ll talk you through the points of interest.
My Man of the Match. He made two absolutely huge saves to keep the scores at 0-0 and then he made further two to keep them at 1-1. His 4th save in particular was out of this world, have a look yourselves.
Today he was the difference between no points and three, because I’m sure we wouldn’t have found the resources to go on and salvage something from the game had we fallen behind. This was another game when Cech really earned us points with a masterful display and I’m very sad we couldn’t reward the man with a clean sheet he thoroughly deserved.
Kos did return from his injury and was thrust into the action right away. You could see why: the Frenchman put in a massive performance. Here’s his game by the numbers (keep in mind Sunderland only enjoyed 26% possession, thus they didn’t exactly camp in our third. Means Koscielny was very efficient with the little work he had):
- 2/2 tackles
- 6 ball recoveries
- 5 interceptions
- 7/7 clearances
- 5/8 aerial duels won
- 40/48 passes completed (83% accuracy)
However what I liked most about Kos’ performance was how he drove the team forward in the first half. He was unerringly good at dribbling past opponents and passing under pressure. Well done to Koscielny.
I’ve mixed feelings about Aaron’s display. On the one hand, he looked a tad selfish once again, shooting from outside the box in the 1st half when passing the ball was a better option, attempting an overhead kick in the 2nd whereas letting the ball get to Giroud was again the better alternative and, finally, trying for Hollywood passes or embarking on risky dribbles and losing the ball as a result.
On the other, Ramsey was everywhere. He completed 114 out of 124 passes attempted (92% accuracy), created 4 chances for his teammates, took 7 shots (5 from inside the box) himself and got an assist and a goal to his name in the end.
Ramsey wasn’t very switched on defensively, but on this occasion he didn’t need to be. I only hope Arsene still mentions it, because we aren’t going to face teams which sit this deep every week, so Aaron will have to help out Flamini more.
Overall, it was a very positive display from Rambo. He looked at ease back in the middle, he combined with Ozil a lot and he did it well and he showed us what we lacked with Santi in the middle: energy and willingness to make things happen. Here’s hoping Aaron will build on this display.
I’m worried about Alex, honestly. With Alexis out of the equation for the time being, this is Oxlade’s chance to shine, to show his worth. I don’t remember where I’ve first seen this thought, but we play in such a way we can only accommodate one high risk/reward system player. Alexis is always going to be that one, so it was hard to have a look in for Alex.
Now he has a chance to establish himself, but against Sunderland he was again below-par. As someone rightly pointed out to me, Alex was only marginally worse than Campbell, Joel’s goal skewed our perception a bit, but still, the Ox was pretty poor.
He didn’t complete a single cross or dribble, he took only one shot and created only one chance for a teammate and completed only 24 passes (out of 28 attempted) in his 64 minutes on the pitch. In simple terms, Ox was mostly uninvolved, especially when he and Campbell swapped flanks. The sheer fact Campbell was subbed off later than Oxlade speaks volumes.
This is very sad to see. Alex is a very talented player, with a much higher ceiling than Campbell, yet it isn’t gleaned from his performances this season. I hope Ox will get better with games, that what we are seeing now is merely the result of lack of playing time. Otherwise I’ll start to have serious misgivings about Oxlade’s future with Arsenal.
“It was a very important game for us tonight because we came out of three disappointing results. We had lost only one game but I think it was a very, very important game for us today, psychologically, for the fact we had not won, for the fact we had lost important players in our side and we had to show that we can win. We were edgy and nervy in the first half against a very organised team who were dangerous on the counter-attack but in the second half I think we have shown mental strength and desire in our game and more fluency as well. All was not perfect of course but the team have shown mental strength after a goal before half-time. We still managed to win the game in the second half.”
And that is basically it. We needed a win badly, we got it. We didn’t sustain any new injuries.
The win takes us to 2nd place, behind Leicester, who thrashed Swansea away courtesy of a Riayd Mahrez hat-trick. United drew their home game against West Ham, while City lost 2-0 to Stoke away. Now we need to take games one-by-one and keep fingers crossed for quick returns of Arteta, Wilshere and Sanchez.