The easiest way to win football matches is to sit back with 10 men behind the ball; to be negative, to park the bus. Some may argue that's what you should do, that winning is everything and that is the 'easiest' way to do it. I disagree with that, I think the biggest players and the biggest teams have a duty to the sport to play it in its purest and most desired fashion. I think it's the bravest managers who set their teams up in this fashion. That's ambition; to win, but to try and win in a way that is universally admired and the reason people watch football, not Jose Mourinho's assertion that the way Costa
The game, as we know, didn't start at all well for Arsenal and we found ourselves a goal down within the first 15 minutes after some extremely sloppy play at the back. What troubles me most of all was the fact that we were caught on a counter attack away from home on numerous occasions. We were far too open; you expect to get caught out like that when you are a goal or two down in the last 15 minutes, not level within the first 15 minutes. That is what Arsenal lack, the right balance for winning football matches. Too often they set up in a manner that is akin to football's version of suicide, or suicide by attack. Against the very best teams that will be punished, and has been so in the past. Let's hope that this was a one off, because this is the area where Arsenal have improved upon within the last year, they pay more attention to the opposition and defending so it was disappointing to see them lapse here. The manager alluded to Leicester's positive spell in his press conference;
"I thought they were close to scoring a second one and it would have made it difficult. We found the resources to equalise and after that our technical quality and the pace of our strikers gave them problems and we managed to make it 2-1 before half-time. In the second half we controlled the game and looked always like we could add another one".
I don't think there is any real need to go into the specifics of the match itself; we all know what happened, Leicester were on top for the first 20 minutes of the game, until Arsenal equalized and it then became a much more even game. From there on we went onto control the match and it was only a matter of time before we converted that dominance on the pitch onto the score board. One other area that concerned me was the fact that after Arsenal went 1-4 up we were a little too relaxed, which is only natural I suppose, especially at that stage of the match, however we gave up numerous opportunities and Petr Cech had to make some great saves to prevent a relatively comfortable game in the end turning into a nervy nail biting finish.
I don't want to come off harsh as I was delighted with the teams performance, as it was only a matter of time before we thrashed a team this season, such is our poor conversion rate, the worst in the league before yesterdays clash. I thought the way the team played yesterday was the best yet this season, and to win, what was looked like a potential banana skin, in the way we did was excellent. There was a real cohesion and purpose to our attacking play that has been questioned beforehand. It also handed Leicester, the last remaining team unbeaten in the division, their first loss of the season, thus ensuring Arsenal's team of 2003/04 will remain the only team to manage that feat, for another season at least.
When you look at individual players there were some impressive performances, you obviously look at Sanchez's hat-trick, getting his season up and running. What I loved most about the hat-trick was the fact that all 3 goals were completely different; The first was a fox in the box classic, lurking at the back post in the right place at the right time. The second goal was a perfectly executed headed finish to match that sumptuous cross from Mesut Ozil. It was a difficult opportunity made to look easy with all the desire we have come to expect from the Chilean. The third was a perfectly executed shot from distance that left the keeper scrambling in the way you want an opposition keeper to scramble. Although it wasn't the text book 'perfect' hat-trick, (left foot, right foot, headed goal), in my view, it was even better. He was back to his best today, Arsene Wenger agreeing;
I also thought Ozil improved as the game went on, and was excellent in the second half. His match statistics make for impressive reading, with a 92% successful passing rate, 5 chances created and an assist. The only ting missing from his game today was a goal. I think he has been very good overall since returning from injury in the second part from last season and he will be key to whatever success this team achieves.
"He is back to his level. I could see in training a different player in the last week or two and he has shown that today. I believe going forward he always looked dangerous".
In what has become par for the course for Arsenal matches these days it was a strange game even without those glorious Mathieu Flamini goals from midweek. While conceding 2 goals is never a good thing, I felt our defenders all played relatively well, the first 20 minutes aside. I thought Theo Walcott put in one of his best performances since returning from his long term injury, and was unlucky to leave the pitch with just one goal to his name. It was also encouraging to see Giroud come off the bench and grab a well taken goal that will boost his confidence, just like against Stoke both strikers scored, and on both occasions the French man replaced the English man. I think there is a promising situation developing there.
Right so that will do it for today, all in all a positive win playing the football we all love to see, whoch sets us up perfectly for a challenging week ahead as we desperately need to get our European campaign up and running against Olympiacos Tuesday night, while next week sees us hosting top of the table Manchester United in a pivotal clash for our title aspirations, that game will give us an opportunity to see where the team are at.
'Till next time, Have a good one.
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Subjectively, Cosmic Kid.