I am right in the middle of my end of term exams and Uni at the moment and they are pretty important. So watching Arsenal in the Champions League at 1.15 in the middle of the might over here the day before an exam probably wasn’t the thing to do. Yeah right. I stole wifi from a guy two floors down in my student halls to set up an Ace stream link and watch the game. I had not finished my syllabus revision but what the hell I finally slept at 4:30 AM after watching all 3 goals again and again and a Joel Campbell vs Olympiakos performance.
I stayed up outside the room in mosquito infested darkness streaming the game and watching it. I prayed and I prayed. I don’t believe in God but I prayed. I’d have asked my girlfriend to pray as well but she already thinks I’m football crazy anyway so this would be a bit much. Arsenal paid me back. In fact my luck went so swell, even my exam was freaking awesome. Much better than what I had thought it would be like. And when the subject is Electric Circuit Theory, that sort of luck is saying a lot.
It has been a long time coming. We have wasted a lot of time doubting the people we never should have and we have spent even more time criticising rather than being helpful. Today is the day we take that back, well mostly. Gooners all around the world are going gaga over Olivier Giroud and I am no different and neither should you be. Olivier Giroud you beauty! You absolute delight of a footballer.
Destiny, fare call it what you will is a funny thing. The first hattrick Giroud ever scored for us comes on a day when we needed to win by a 2 goal margin. The first clean sheet Petr Cech kept in weeks came in a game where he could not break David James’ record. The Arsenal qualified for the Champion’s league group stage for the 16th time in a row, in the last game and that occurring, as well in a stadium where we have a history of losses. In a kit which has spelled nothing but disaster before this. It’s true btw, the kit is going to be immortalised in collective memory.
Some would say this is all needless glorification, as qualifying in the last 16 is the highest we have gotten in the last few years in the competition and also because it is not a great achievement for Arsenal to just get into this position anymore. I would say this needs a greater celebration. Felicitate Giroud or something. If not that, give a prize to Joel Campbell. What’s that? We don’t have enough cash for a ceremony? Fine, just tell Arsene Wenger he was right. That is enough for the man and the team. I suspect Wenger doesn’t need it anyway. He’s a headstrong fellow who knows his own prowess. He made Joel Campbell a signing with Dick Law chasing the then 18 year old all across the continent. He trusted Per Mertesacker to start in the game instead of Gabriel. He trusted Olivier Giroud to be talented enough to lead our line and humble enough to wait his turn when Walcott was given the chance to start. Look at what he’s doing here- the man is either ahead of his time or he’s incredibly lucky to be building jigsaws which start looking like the complete picture soon after he starts building them. He has been trying to create this sort of atmosphere around the squad ever since the Invincibles. It’s coming together, slowly and in fits and starts. One Arsene Wenger! Nothing else to say.
Olivier Giroud was the star of what was very much an Arsenal show to my eyes. Apart from the card that Ramsey conceded I was not perturbed about anything. Without further ado let us look at what Giroud did. He scored 3 goals, a header, a one touch finish and a calmly taken penalty that sealed the deal for us.
A pass from Mesut Ozil cuts out 4 players as if it was an angle calculated by a super computer. You can clearly see the long blue arrow in the graphic above. That was the pass. Even though there are no defender positions, you can see it must have sliced through them, such Brilliance!! A ball from Ramsey into the box, reminiscent of the ball Sanchez put in for Ozil to head in a few games ago. Giroud as always was in position. The header was perfect, beat the keeper at his near post and the timing of the run was astute. The ball from Ramsey was fantastic. What vision from the Welshman. It was definitely the start of some good play from Arsenal. Although we looked like conceding a goal before half time as has been the recent trend.
A ball is lobbed up high into the air for Joel Campbell to control it with his thigh. The guy is quite good at receiving awkward balls. I noted that in all his matches. What he does after that is sometimes futile but his first touch while receiving is mostly good. It almost reminded me of Bergkamp for a moment. So anyway, he pulls it back and away from the oncoming defender who thinks he’s gonna get it easy. Naah, Joel ain’t doing that no more. He cuts back elegantly, almost Ozil-esque in its effectiveness and simplicity. That is before he slips an Ozil-esque ball through for Giroud to slot home. The ball left three defenders stranded in an area as small as the 6 yard box, so you can imagine the quality of the Joel assist.
A penalty!! Shiver me timbers! I don’t remember the last time I saw Arsenal get a penalty in an important game! It has been a decade, or so it seems. Anyway, the handball was taken off a low cross from Monreal I think and a blatant handball at that. With Giroud being on 2 goals for the evening and Santi Cazorla and Alexis both being out, it was only natural that he took it. I wonder if there was some gracious gift of the spot kick from Ozil to Giroud. If so, it only goes on to emphasize the togetherness of this unit. The world’s best CAM giving up a penalty which would seal the game to his teammate on a hattrick, showing faith and belief in him beyond that shown by any fan in years. He’s the next great Arsenal striker. Giroud scored the penalty with aplomb and elegance to spare. Time to start taking notice of that goal tally, it’s inching towards a 100.
Result: 3-0 Arsenal Win.
Let’s face it. We can have a lot of Giroud based stuff here.
Giroud celebrates, Giroud getting up after the injury scare and then scoring the other goal inside 30 odd seconds and many more. However one moment stole the entire game for me. Mesut Ozil’s pre assist for the first goal. Every once in a while football shows you a thing of such beauty and such complexity that you start to marvel at the intellect behind it. Something called ‘game intelligence’ is beginning to pick up among psychologists in the past few years and it is meant to understand the intellectual quality behind the manoeuvre’s by players in sports. I suspect if there were some way to measure sporting intellect, our No 11 would come out on top of every list by a long margin. Probably saw the best pass of the season from Ozil.
This guy got it right on twitter!
Joel Campbell: A Coquelin sort of flashy break out this most certainly is not but a steady increase in performance with number of games played it is. Joel Campbell was immense. The second goal was all down to his ball control and assist, which were both quite brilliant. We expect too little from him and he is taking advantage of that to top our expectations every time he can. Made tackles all around the pitch and made two successful dribbles out of an attempted six and was a thorn in the side of the Olympiakos team again and again.
Mesut Ozil: Ozil was apparently nearly out of the match with some sort of a pulled calf if I remember correctly from what I read on twitter. There was no way he could have been at full match fitness and that showed a little bit in the game. Was still a creator, always looking up, always searching for an opening. There is no way that you can get more out of this guy. Slight injury and yet he completed more final third passes than Ramsey who completed more total passes. What a joy to watch.
Ram-Flam? Aar-mini?: I do not know. You tell me. What I do know is that this is a midfield partnership which can help us out when we need some help, Stability wise a bit top heavy because of Ramsey. However there can be no denying Flamini’s experience and Ramsey’s engine. Flamini actually might have thought this was a NLD, because he almost in the first half. Ramsey came up with a low total passes completed with around 60 but then I didn’t watch the game totally because of the poor wifi and missed some of the midfield battles. However he did provide the assist for the Giroud goal. Couldn’t have asked for much more.
I wish I could single out every one of our defenders separately because they had a massive influence on the pitch. They cleared the balls, they headed them back to Cech, they ran, they harried and they pressed and they were everything we needed them to be and more. Cech of course made the all-important saves when he needed to. A clean sheet this weekend for the poor guy to let him equal the record please. A performance like this against Aston Villa and we could make them look like Malmo!
Little bit top class from Arsenal there. Couldn’t have been happier. #COYG