Just as frustrating on the night was our finishing. Oliver Giroud will not have another night like he did last night again. Everything went wrong for him and that is a shame because he has been in excellent form of late. It felt like every negative action impacted on the next one and it continued that way until he was replaced for Theo Walcott. It was typical of our evening when Theo had a chance to score but his shot hit the diving keeper and the ball fell perfectly for Danny Welbeck to tap into an empty net but his shot hit Theo on the floor who prevented a certain goal. A goal at that point and the tie could have looked very different this morning.
I thought Mesut Özil showed some very classy touches and it's a shame we could not use him as much as we could have if we had to force the game. The German had a swagger about his game and looks really confident in his game at present. Long may that continue. We defended the inside of our penalty area very well. Ospina, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Coquelin had dealt with everything thrown at them. How many times have we played Chelsea and Manchester United in the past and had all the ball yet were kept at arms length? The
Arsène has regularly been criticized for being too rigid in his approach to games but I'm not sure that is justified criticism, especially this season. We've played a number of systems, playing different styles of football. Yesterday we played a fun attacking 4-2-3-1 with Mesut Özil moving back into the middle but it was not at the expense of Santi Cazorla, the player of the second half of this season played in the number 8 position. It's a central pairing I've wanted to see all season but didn't think I'd see it happen very often. Perhaps that explains the choice of the two hard working wide attackers
Looking at the selected line up and the approach to the game, I can't help but feel that Arsène wanted to scrap the approach that must have frustrated him against Tottenham. Defending deep and counter attacking was replaced by a high line and a team packed with creative goodness. Arsène has always been a front footed manager, a manager who has taken his teams to Milan, Madrid amongst other places where English sides have not won before and then took the game to those teams, outplayed them and won. Rightly or wrongly, that is what Arsène Wenger is about and you get the sense that whenever his team plays conservatively, he is not truly comfortable with it all
Theo Walcott intercepted Cazorla's through ball to Giroud to jink inside a defender and curl beautifully into the corner. Best piece of defensive work he did all day. Chuba Akpom came on along with Tomas Rosicky and gave us all a hint of what he can do. His work rate and movement looked good but perhaps he was a little too eager to score. Understandable given the nature of the game and the time running out. It was nice to see his team mates trying to set him up.
Had we scored the third goal then it could have been a lot more comfortable but we couldn't get it. Once Brighton scored, they lifted their heads and made it a match once again. Not the best defending from Flamini and the team and we allowed them back into the game but it always felt like we had another gear to go up if we really needed it. That is exactly what we did when Rosicky, Sanchezed upon a defensive error and recovered the ball back, bursting towards the box he slipped the ball wide with the trademark Ronaldinho no look pass (how many players can I merge into Rosicky here) when Giroud chipped the ball out to the edge of the area Rosicky to erm Pires it on the volley past the keeper
- Manchester City (a) - Coquelin, Cazorla & Striking first
- Hull City (h) - Integrating Theo, front foot Coquelin and Decisions for Campbell
- Southampton (a) - Experienced Arsenal defence undone by errors
- Liverpool (a) - Two points dropped against dominating Liverpool
- Galatasaray (a) - Gala thumped by rampant Ramsey and co + Enjoyable Grosvenor casino evening
- Stoke City (a) - Lack of rotation comes back to bites Arsenal
- Southampton (h) - Giroud brings back invincible memories