I have just read some very interesting articles today and apart from Alex`s I have left comments. I didn’t comment on Alex’s, as usual, well-written one because I am including some of the points raised by him in this attempt at analysing where we are after the week end.
Firstly his guess at what the composition of the team against Southampton would be and I have to congratulate him on a fairly accurate attempt. As it happened. Xhaka was not included but Perez and Mustafi were. Surprisingly, Perez did not occupy his time mostly in the penalty box as most pundits thought he would, but Walcott drifted in (as he does) and Perez delivered some sweet crosses from which Giroud nearly scored on one occasion when he went full stretch to connect with the ball which went just the wrong side of the post.
Mustafi seemed to have had full confidence from the outset because he went rampaging upfield where Bellerin usually lives and did unsettle their left flank somewhat. However he left gaps behind him which Southampton nearly exploited on more than one occasion. He did settle down and was much more solid in the second half. Unfortunately, Perez did not improve very much and he was subbed without really having made his mark on the game. What we did take out of the game is:
1. whatever, their circumstances are at the time, Southampton are always a dangerous team for us to play.
2. Santi was brilliant. All our constructive work stemmed from him.
3. Koscielny proved once again that as a warrior and a player, he has no equal in the Premiership.
4. Cech was commanding and very unfortunate to concede an OG.
5. Bellerin was his usual self, but a bit lacking in defence in favour of attacking up the wing.
6. Monreal was very solid throughout.
7. Coquelin looked as if he was playing for his place and had a very good game.
8. Walcott is a huge improvement on last year and although he did not score, he did get about and actually made some decent interventions by covering back.
9. Sanchez was always dangerous without being at his best.
10. Ozil, as usual oozed class but he had difficulty combining with Perez as did Sanchez and Walcott. Perez was trying too hard to cover every position in the forward line and he made runs outside the box which the rest could not follow or anticipate, so there was little cohesion in the forward line. When that happens, the benefit of Ozil`s game is largely lost.
11 Ox once again was all energy and effort with little reward but he put a shift in.
Giroud did make a bit of an improvement when he came on but really we need to see more of him playing with Perez to see if our efficiency is improved at scoring from our chances.
I was disappointed with the result which in fairness to Southampton, should have been a draw but I do think that Ian Wright was extremely harsh on Perez. We needed a goal scorer and we hear today that Arsene bought him as a centre forward and Wright criticised him for not staying within the penalty area. He said that he was bought as a centre forward. We already have wingers and we don`t need another one. From Perez`s perspective apparently, Wenger made enquiries about Perez before the window opened but, then he was linked with practically every top CF in Europe afterwards, before coming back to him right at the end. he knew that there was at least 4 other players who Wenger would have bought before him, but here he was playing at the Emirates for Arsenal, and I think he just tried far too hard to be everywhere at once. He will need time to settle down and particularly he needs to learn Ozil`s game.
I have made my views known about Wenger, but he has bought three players. Xhaka, for me is a quality player and he will prove himself over this season. If I had watched Pogba in the games he has played and compared him to Xhaka, I think we got the better deal. Pogba was anonymous on Sunday. Mustafi looks as if he will improve our defence so the only criticism I would make is that they should all have been bought at the start of the window. We may not have dropped 5 points. I did have my misgivings at the selection of the team and particularly for not having Xhaka but I had not taken account of tomorrow’s game with PSG so I have to accept that some precautions were needed in this case.
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In summary, I know that there was fierce criticism again after the match and once more Wenger was the main target. I would ask all of those critics to accept that like it or not, nothing they do will bring about the dismissal of Wenger. That is a fact. the only thing is, I believe that if he finishes the season with a good team which he can safely hand over to a successor, he will go this year. He will go of his own volition. He will not back down. That is not in his character. There is nothing continuing with heavy abuse which will be constructive this season and it will only affect the performance of the players. There was no lack of effort on Sunday and for passages in the game, the supporters made lots of noise which inspired more effort from the players. I hope I see a lot more of that this year.