I must say I woke up a delighted man on Monday morning in light of a wonderful result at the Etihad, with time to reflect on an impressive performance I must touch on a few topics that I believe earned us the win.
Firstly I’d like to praise Arsene Wenger for getting it spot on yesterday. I’m always first in line to blast the boss when he gets it wrong so it’d be highly hypocritical of me not to credit him when he gets it right, I’m not that type of person and I’m fair in my judgement.
He played a team close to the one I went for in my last article with Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal being the exceptions. Usually we’d see Arsene make wholesale changes to the team and suffer as a result but the continuity I emphasised on in my last piece really counted.
The back four was well protected, the team put a magnificent shift in and we benefitted as a result.
Alexis Sanchez may not have had the best of games but he can be easily forgiven for a day off after his work this year. It’s positive that others stepped up in the absence of his regular high standards.
His signing has been revolutionary; his desire and work rate has really rubbed off on the rest of the squad because he’s taught the team that despite the talent and title of being the club’s best player, working hard is still an absolute given.
How can his team-mates look at that and not be inspired? His goals and contribution towards them could afford him the chance to slack defensively or not work as hard yet he does and that’s an incredibly welcoming trait.
Santi Cazorla has grabbed the headlines and rightly so, he was the ‘difference’ but Francis Coquelin’s performance was heroic. I’ve always been a big fan of his so I’m glad he’s finally getting the recognition his ability deserves.
Coquelin is athletic, aggressive, has some leadership about him and can play a bit. He’s been a breath of fresh air in the past couple of months no doubt!
We needed to protect Per Mertesacker and our full-backs and he did that terrifically. He was willing to do the gritty stuff to provide the platform for others to flourish and play.
I really can’t believe some are still questioning him after yesterday. Is he the answer to our DM problems long term? Time will tell but he’s certainly the kind of player top teams need to succeed. A Mr Utility man that Manchester United had in John O’Shea, Chelsea have in Cesar Azpilicueta, Manchester City have in James Milner etc.
He can play left back, right back, central midfield and both flanks if we ever needed him there and can do a worthy job in all those positions!
You can’t play the football you want in these kind of games if you’re chasing shadows and Coquelin’s discipline and covering ensured that we didn’t need to chase anything. He was a shield and it was a Gilberto-esque performance from him.
When you have that solidarity protecting the midfield then your more dynamic and creative players can show off their stuff as Santi Cazorla did yesterday. Coquelin gave us a chance to compete whilst Cazorla made the difference in getting the result.
Santi Cazorla really was the match-winner yesterday and when on form there’s few I enjoy watching more than him. His capabilities of turning on a sixpence, vision, dribbling in tight spaces and two-footedness is difficult if not impossible to find elsewhere.
A composed penalty that gave us something to protect followed by his assist that gave us comfort in the game was brilliant. He really is a special player and partly the reason I didn’t bandwagon the complaints about not bringing Cesc Fabregas back.
Creativity is not an issue in this team believe me, it’s the opportunity to show that creativity on a weekly basis that is. Nemanja Matic allows Fabregas to be who he is at Chelsea. Fernando/Fernandinho allow David Silva to do that at City and Coquelin allowed Cazorla to do that yesterday.
Francis’ emergence as well as Krystian Bielik’s arrival gives us some time to maybe cool off the desperate need for a defensive midfielder, we can take our time with this one and maybe focus on bringing in some defensive recruitments now.
Bellerin coped very well too, he’s improving game by game.
This performance does make one wonder why it’s taken so long for Wenger to finally adapt to this type of style and maybe we could have won the league last year if we had this sort of attitude in the bigger games but better late than never as they say.
Man City desired a result yesterday and it’s fair to say that they were officially Coq-blocked! Hats off!