It’s hard not to like someone who knows their limits, or put another way, it’s difficult to like someone who is unaware of their limitations. That mate who has one too many and offends every person in the bar or that guy who tries to talk to every 8/10 that he sees. Alex Song springs to mind, a player who was tasked with patrolling the Arsenal midfield, protecting our often maligned back four and acting as our safety net when our attacks broke down. He did none of these things. In fact looking at his statistics this season, he wins a measly 0.8 aerial duels a game compared to Coquelin’s 3.1. In fact, despite his affection for joining in on the attack, his pass completion rate stands at a shocking 76% behind Coquelin’s 83%; whilst a fair amount of that is down to long ball tactics, it is also Song attempting through passes that not even Ozil would dare try. No, it is Coquelin’s limitations that make him so valuable to this Arsenal squad. He rarely joins the attacks, preferring to either sit back between
Whereas leadership is regularly bandied around as the core vacant ingredient, perhaps the generalisation of such a theory is unfair. A positional assessment, however, tells another story. At the back, Per and Laurent Le Rock continue to lead an increasingly miserly defence. Nacho has added to this stewardship and it’s fair to suggest, Debuchy shall do likewise. It’s between the sticks where questions bubble most. Whereas David Ospina is enjoying a current purple patch, there’s little concrete evidence to suggest this could elevate him to the pantheon currently housed with multiple Chelsea recruits, the red half of Manchester’s player of the season and the recently
Well, I’d say this was a game of two halves, but I’m not sure that would do the match justice. The first half was exactly what you want coming out against a team that’s struggling. We pressed them well, created ample chances to put the game to bed before halftime, and never let them get a foothold in the game. The second half was a…. slightly different story. They clearly responded very well to their half time team talk, where we never really got our second half started. We were sloppy on the ball throughout the second half and put ourselves under constant pressure. Luckily, we defended well enough and Ospina was there to make one or two crucial saves that allowed us to hold on. The entire game considered, it wasn’t the best of performances, but three points are always welcome, especially in an away game
MOM. For sure. He dropped back when required, drove the team forward and never gave up. All elements he's been criticised for prior to tonight. Playing in an environment not to his preference, 10 players behind the ball, he really adjusted well and was the leading light where perhaps Alexis and Santi showed signs of fatigue. A very important player with hopefully the best still yet to come #OurMesut.
Notable mentions for Özil and Giroud, but it would have to be Rambo. He helped to provide the crucial link between defence and attack and seemed to be popping up all over the pitch. Santi has had a few stormers in CM this season, but the position alongside our most defensive midfielder (whether that is Coquelin or someone else moving forward) is surely his for the foreseeable future. In the big games especially we need his combination of physicality and stamina, with the ability to make late surges into the opposition's box
When you watch him closely you can really appreciate the Spanish footballing education he has received. He is technically solid, reads the game very well and is assured on the ball.
He also seems to have dramatically improved the physical aspect of his game since arriving from Spain.
I believe he has proven his worth to the team this season and Kieran Gibbs has a real fight on his hands to regain his place
- Everton (h) "Gabriel seems a lion and doesn’t back down" - Q&A
- Monaco (h) "We've underperformed in far too many big games " - Q&A
- Crystal Palace (a) "I would much rather have Welbeck's tenacity and workrate" - Q&A
- Middlesbrough (h) "Giroud has looked a different player this season" - Q&A
- Tottenham (a) "Losing is crap but losing to Spurs feels infinitely worse" - Q&A
- Aston Villa (h) "I thought he was comfortably the best player on the pitch" - Q&A
- Brighton (a) "He made us tick, and brought a dynamism to our attacking play" - Q&A