Had a busy couple of days, hence there was no fully-fledged Spurs review from me. Well, there was no review at all, to be exact. Seeing as now our next game is on Saturday already and the last was on Wednesday, I’m now facing the prospect of trying to cram both the review of Spurs and the preview of Leicester in one article. Gives me all the more reason to be concise I guess. So here we go.
Well, whatever I expected, this was not it. It’s a rare occurrence when Flamini scores a goal, when he scores twice inside one game…it’s unheard of. Literally. I don’t think he scored twice in one game for us.
However, if there was one player I desperately wanted to do well from that starting line-up, it was Flamini. Barring Wilshere and maybe a couple of other Englishmen (Gibbs, Ox, Theo), Arsenal players nowadays don’t really differentiate between a derby and any other game. They mostly don’t get why derbies are special because they were not born in this atmosphere of mutual rivalry (one which brilliantly described by Tim Stillman here). I do not claim I do either, but it’s still nice to see a player, who does, succeed. Witnessing Flamini demonstrate skills of a predator for the first and then finish the job with a sumptuous volley for the winner before running to the away fans’ section and pounding the chest, brought a tear to my eye. Well done, Flam.
However, not all of our players had a similarly good game. Wenger really did give fringe players another chance, making ten changes (only Ramsey kept his place. Played the full game too, what an engine). Gibbs and Chambers were very good, the former making a vital clearance off the line, the latter getting stuck in all over the place. Calum was really unlucky to have another own goal attributed to him, though I do wonder whether Ospina, who had the cross covered, gave Calum a shout. But overall Chambers had a second consecutive strong performance. Bodes well for him.
Others weren’t equally impressive, though. Debuchy in particular was beyond atrocious, and it was down the right that Spurs had most of the joy. Mathieu was caught high up the field time and again, forcing Chambers to cover for him, and didn’t offer much going forward. Campbell should shoulder some of the blame for this, as he rarely tracked back to help out Debuchy, but it’s safe to say the Frenchman isn’t getting his place back anytime soon at this rate.
I also wanted to single out Oxlade, because the Englishman had yet another unconvincing performance. On one hand he basically set up Flamini for the first by showing some nimble footwork. On the other, his passing seemed way off, with roughly 70% of his 26 passes finding their intended target. Campbell was even less impressive in this regard, attempting a mere 15 passes in the 66 minutes he was on the pitch.
I don’t think either will, or indeed should, play ahead of Ramsey on the right. Whatever his faults may be, the Welshman is generally a sound passer and helps keep the ball in circulation.
It was a deserved win for us in a match where neither team really seemed to care about the outcome for the first 25 minutes. Tottenham had their moments, we had ours and the difference was Mathieu Flamini. An unlikely hero, but here you go. The 4th round will see us travel to Sheffield Wednesday on a Tuesday (ahem), while City takes on Palace and Chelsea faces Stoke away.
The bit of news that had everyone worried was Coquelin’s unavailability:
“He is progressing well, but he will not be available for Leicester. He has a scan today but the evolution is quite positive. He might start practice tomorrow. He has a little chance for Tuesday, and a bigger chance for Man United. It is very difficult to be definite today”.
Our other loss is Gabriel, who was banned by the FA for one game after having been found guilty of improper conduct. It looks like a bit of farce really, for a player to receive a ban for overreacting to a red card which was subsequently overruled, but here you go. Guess we should be grateful he is not doing 4 or 5 games while Costa walks free and pushes grannies with a walking stick.
However, we should have Cazorla back, while both Mertesacker and Chambers had good enough games in midweek for us not to be sweating over Gabriel’s ban. Wilshere, Welbeck and Rosicky remain unavailable.
Cech, Bellerin, Monreal, Koscielny, Cazorla, Ozil, Alexis and Walcott should all come back in. The questions Arsene will have to solve is who partners Kos in defense and who plays alongside Cazorla at the base of the midfield.
I think Mertesacker will keep his place, though Chambers’ form and fitness may give Arsene something to chew on. Who will partner Cazorla is the more worrying dilemma for me.
I saw some suggest Wenger should be bold and play Ramsey alongside Cazorla and I have to say this idea has something about it. I didn’t particularly like how Cazorla dovetailed with Arteta against Zagreb.
Flamini might be a better option, not so much because of his midweek heroics, but rather because his style of play is closer to Coq’s. We shall see. In case Ramsey becomes the missing part of the jigsaw, I fully expect Oxlade to slot in on the right.
Predicted line-up: Cech – Bellerin – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Monreal – Flamini – Cazorla – Ozil – Ramsey – Alexis – Walcott
Leicester are not the ones to underestimate. They actually sit above us in the table with 12 points after 6 matches and are yet to lose a game. They have only lost once in their last 15 league games, racking up 34 points and right now they are top scorers in the Premier League with 13 goals, 8 of these coming at home. First Pearson and then Ranieri did a wonderful job with the team, so we’ll have to be fully switched on to beat The Foxes.
However, Arsenal has a pretty good record against Leicester, losing none of the last 17 matches and drawing only six. I also think it’s about time Sanchez scored, so the team should have what it takes to do what is necessary tomorrow, get a win and protect the achievement of going the entire campaign unbeaten.
So come on you Gunners.
Back with a review
Ps Editor’s note – If you know where the song Over land and see and Leicester cones from leave a comment. If you don’t ask and I will tell you