1) It's been a long time coming but we have finally beaten one of the top domestic teams. What was different about this game compared to so many others?
@dhaneshdprabhu - In every top games, we tend to keep possession and attack more by putting bodies up front thus making our defence vulnerable. But in this game, we really did have the PLAN B, to sit back, play with positional discipline, play on the counter and be clinical when it comes to chance creation. That made the difference for us to walk away finally with 3 points against the champions.
@forresgooner - The positioning of the midfield 3 was the biggest difference in my opinion. The main reason we got those two famous thumpings last season was the gap between Arteta and the other two midfielders was far too big. Where as on Sunday the shape of the midfield was a lot more compact and we protected the back 4 well. Both Arsene and Ramsey mentioned in their post-match interviews about how we focused on restricting Silva getting the ball in-between the lines, and you can see that both Le Coq and Cazorla were sticking to him when they had the ball
@MayowaIdowu - We were better without the ball than we were which is something rare in an Arsenal side.
We had a plan and we saw it through. We might have had plans as such in other big games but undermined ourselves. This was executed perfectly proving that when he's sufficiently bothered, Wenger can devise a Mourinhoesque game plan. The full backs didn't bomb forward. We had an anchor who had no time for frills and backed up his gesturing with an all action performance.
@SimplyEnigmatic - In other games like this we tend to be too open, we are so focused on attacking that sometimes it seems like we forget to defend. In this game we came with a game plan which is similar to the one employed against us at the Emirates and we looked to frustrate our opposition. We did well to nullify David Silva and I can’t remember being overly nervous during any of their set pieces.
2) Who was your man of the match and why?
@dhaneshdprabhu - Obviously Santi Cazorla, our little magician. A masterclass performance from the midfield. I believe this was his best performance in an Arsenal shirt so far. MOTM should be given for that creativity, that mazy runs through the midfield using both feet (I still can't understand which one is his strong foot and which one is his weak), for cooling taking that penalty (which in my opinion was the turning point, because had we missed that it could have had serious repercussions) and finally for that brilliant dancing celebration when Giroud scored the decisive 2nd goal.
@forresgooner - Only one answer to this question. Santi Cazorla had an excellent game, and not just on the ball. Off the ball he had a disciplined match positionally and with stats like 2 tackles, 3 interceptions and 2 clearances we all witnessed how that 2nd deep midfielder should play in these big games. On the ball he was his usual superb self. He is enjoying being in the middle as he is on the ball more.
@MayowaIdowu - Santi Cazorla. Towards the end of last year, Santi's form hit new heights and it felt good to see him do it in a big game. When he's at his best, he reminds me of a little kid in a candy store: Unbridled joy on his face showing his much fun he's having. Wenger made a good point noting how his ambidexterity made him such a tricky operator in the centre. His composure is also remarkable, nothing fazes him.
@SimplyEnigmatic - Unfortunately I’m going to be boring, Santi Cazorla take a bow. Though his performance was far from boring, he was immense. He worked his magic in pockets of space, ghosted past the players that came at him, pirouetted around the ones that didn't and he put in some superb tackles. The one the comes to mind happened near our LB position, he slid on the ground, scoop tackled the ball, did a rising 180 and ended up standing with the ball at his feet like a glorious phoenix. It was especially nice to hear that the Ox gave him a piggy-back ride off the pitch, after that showcase he deserved it.
3) What other players stood out in an Arsenal shirt?
@dhaneshdprabhu - In my view Francis Coquelin, Nacho Monreal and Olivier Giroud stood out as other stand out players of this game. Coquelin had one hell of a game and with this performance, he finally gave a permanent seat on the bench for Flamini. Not many are praising Monreal's performance (as everyone is busy praising Santi and Le Coq) but 7 interceptions, 11 clearances, 5 blocks and he won the penalty which tilted the game in our favour. Olivier Giroud has stepped up in many big games this season. 7 goals in 13 appearances including goals against City, United, Liverpool, Everton etc deserves some credit.
@forresgooner - There are plenty to speak about. One area of our game that is always targeted in big games is our full backs. I thought both Monreal, who is underrated by many, and Bellerin were superb. Bellerin especially in the first half, never panicked and wasn't as adventurous as he likes to be. Other two honurable mentions are Giroud, who grew in confidence after his goal, and le Coq. Im not his biggest fan, but I cant deny that he had a great game
@MayowaIdowu - Coquelin was imperious. Monreal who's fast becoming one of my favourites played very well too. Giroud also did a good job acting as a focal point and his goal was well deserved.
@SimplyEnigmatic - The Coq. He’s taken his chances as they’ve come and he looks like a half decent player. Arsene said words to the effect of this in an interview - “Sometimes looking internally can be a blessing in disguise”. I think Arsene bought Coquelin back from loan because he felt he had to and you have to credit a player who was looking at the end of his Arsenal career, that has taken the opportunity given to him with both hands. Also worth remembering that Flamini is basically fit now so today Coq kept him out of the starting line up on merit alone. Arsene has always had a knack for cultivating young talent and I’m glad that he is showing faith in a player that could now go on to cement a place in our 1st Team Squad. There are also rumours floating around the interwebs that he’ll be offered a new contract, if he keeps up this form then I don’t see why we shouldn’t keep him. And a quiet nod to Nacho, keep proving the doubters wrong. He’s been a bit of an unsung hero this season but he’ll get his plaudits if he continues putting in solid performances. Gibbs, you’ve got a fight on your hands.
4) Given the result and performance what would you do with Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil if the decision was yours?
@dhaneshdprabhu - Both Theo and Ozil need a run of games to get into the groove, but getting 3 points is the ultimate aim of a big game like this. City does have the firepower in Aguero and creativity in Silva to exploit our defence and knowing this there was no way that Wenger would have thrown offensive players like Ozil and Theo into the mix. I believe what Wenger did was correct, to rest them entirely for this match so that he can give them valuable game time against Brighton.
@forresgooner - I'm still happy for both to start. The Ox has had a mixed season and I still think Walcott adds that extra dimension to our play. I've seen some try to play down his ability due to his contract situation but I hope he signs an extension.
Despite Cazorla's form, Ozil is still our best number 10 and Cazorla can still be effective out wide, but only when we play with Ozil. Earlier in the season Santi struggled wide, but that was due to how unbalanced we were as a side. Also with Sanchez being a risk taker its ideal to have a controller on the other side to balance us.
@MayowaIdowu - This is the headache inducer for Wenger and I don't envy him. As it is, I think Theo might have to be content with being a sub or being interchanged with Oxlade Chamberlain. His contract expires soon so he might not even been here that long. He could give as an extra dimension as a no 9, if he hasn't forgotten how to play there. His performance against Spurs in the Cup a year ago is still fresh in my memory.
As for Özil, with Cazorla in this form you can't help but feel that were he to get a shot at No 10, he'll have to produce a stirring performance to justify Santi being dropped or played out of position.
However, Santi has generally played as the second midfielder so I'll expect that in the easier games where we'll need to break teams down, we can play both.
@SimplyEnigmatic - What a great problem to have. Oh I don’t know, I guess the Ox and Ramsey could potentially make way. I’d like to see Ozil start but if I’d rather Walcott was only brought on while we are winning. Being out for a year seems to have affected his confidence (understandably) and I would want to ease him into the team rather than throwing him into the deep-end. Though I crave as all Arsenal fans do, to see an Ozil supplying balls to Alexis, Theo and Welbeck. Fine, I’ll play them all and not field a defence. Though honestly, Brighton is a game we have to take seriously. I’d field virtually the same team and make the substitutions if we are in a comfortable position.
5) Can this result give us a platform to have a strong second half of the season?
@dhaneshdprabhu - Yes, I genuinely believe so. More than just a win, it was a psychological and morale boosting win for us. And whenever we tend to win games like this, we generally go on to win or be unbeaten for at least another 7-10 games in a row. So if this happens again which I obviously believe will be the case, we can genuinely expect a strong second half performance from the Gunners.
@forresgooner - If, like we did after beating Bayern 2-0, use this result as a template then we will finish 3rd. Which imo is where we should be now. It also will hopefully gives us more confidence in the Champions League
@MayowaIdowu - Hopefully so. We've got an easier run of games now so hopefully, we can build some form to secure 3rd and a good run in the Cups. Also, a little prayer that we can stay injury free.
@SimplyEnigmatic - If we take each game one at a time (not that you can play two at once), concentrate on the opponent in front of us and remain grounded then we could put a run of wins together. Our squad is teaming with skill and talent and if we can employ the discipline we showed today (in the appropriate amounts depending on the opposition) then we could do well during this half of the season - especially in the cups.
6) Are you confident that we will make a signing this January? If so what type of player/position?
@dhaneshdprabhu - With Le Coq, Flamini and Bielik in the holding midfield position, I believe we will sign a defender before the transfer window shuts down. Whether it's Reid, Paulista, Perrin or any other unknown player, I don't know but with the injury to Debuchy and periodic medical room visits of Gibbs and Koscielny means we need one more body regardless of what Wenger thinks.
@forresgooner - I think we will sign a CB, Arsene is never usually this vocal about a position we need to strengthen, so that gives me hope. I don't think we will get a defensive midfielder, as we will go for Schneiderlin again in the summer
@MayowaIdowu - I think we'll make one signing: A defender. Preferably, one in Koscielny's image.
@SimplyEnigmatic - I avoid transfer rumours like the plague and much like the plague they are hard to avoid. I think the ideal player would be a CB who can also cover as a defensively minded midfielder. Whether any are available is another issue and we aren’t the only ones in the market unfortunately. But hey, anything’s possible if you told me 4 years ago that we would have Barcelona’s number 9 and Real Madrid’s number 10 then I would have called you crazy. My advice, avoid the rumours, don’t stress about it and leave it up to Arsene. Recently at least, I think he’s made some pretty damn good signings *cough* Alexis *cough*.
7) Any Other Thoughts
@dhaneshdprabhu - Win and players get the credit, lose and it's all Arsene's fault. Seriously this has been the story of many Arsene haters. Arsene Wenger can't cope with the modern game, Arsene Wenger doesn't do tactics, Arsene Wenger only knows one-dimensional possession football and doesn't focus on opponents. Well, yesterday he answered all his critics with a tactical masterclass performance. Give him credit where its due. Plus we need to start Ospina in every game just to hear OSSSSSPPPINNNNNAAAA.
@forresgooner - Would just like to say that Sunday's approach isn't a new tactic for us. It's just a tactic we haven't used enough in big games. In 2013 we approached big games with this compact two banks of 4. However in 2014 we went back to pushing high up. Hopefully this will see us consistently using the former approach
@SimplyEnigmatic - This was a performance that Arsenal fans have wanted for a very long time. It shows that despite his apparent stubbornness Arsene isn’t unwilling to adapt. One of the things that saddens me about Arsenal currently is the constant in-fighting, fans at each others’ throats, unnecessary banners, the knowledge that every poor performance will become amplified by social media and performances like this are the only real route to ending it. Of course there are some that are constantly unhappy but many have reasonable views and are just sick of Arsenal doing the same thing year after year. Victoria Concordia Crescit means victory through harmony, if Arsenal can prove to those fans that this is a turning point then it will become one. I’ll continue supporting Arsenal after this manager and the next one, I just think this one has a bit more fight left in him and I hope he proves me right.
Other match related content: Check out the Arsenal Vision Post Match Podcast