Arsène Wenger threw us all a curveball. Not only did he revert back to 4-2-3-1 but instead of using Santi Cazorla behind Danny Welbeck he gave that role to our big summer signing. Alexis Sanchez had played a large part of his career at Udinese behind Antonio Di Natale and he proved to be a star in that role. Alexis had started the season like a fireball without much direction. His passing was erratic and he wasn't on the same wavelength as the rest of his colleagues. Since then Alexis Sanchez has been the undisputed technical leader of this team. We have the Chilean to thank for bailing us out against Hull City, Anderlecht and now Sunderland. I don't think I can remember a player at Arsenal so forceful at stamping his personality on games
That goal hit us like a huge uppercut to the chin, we were all over the place and could not stand straight for ten minutes, in which time the home side should have put us to bed. They had the chances but failed to make it count. They actually reminded me of a young Arsenal team during the periods 2009-2011. Going ahead, missing chances and then showboating. As time was ticking down the Anderlecht players started flicking the ball to each other and over elaborating when seeing the game out should have been the goal.
Alexis rather majestically body swerved past his man and drilled low into the far corner I thought we had done the hard part, the rest of the game should open up because we had broken through the two banks of four nice and early and ruined the oppositions game plan. Except the referee and his assistant had other ideas. This is the point where I am supposed to add the footballing disclaimer. Telling you that it is not to excuse our performance and that all of the blame must lie with ourselves.
Many of the plaudits will deservedly go to hat-trick hero Daniel Nii Tackie Welbeck and I'll come onto him in a moment but for me that first half was all about Santi Cazorla. When reading the line up before kick off I imagined that Oxlade-Chamberlain would be the one to come inside and replace Aaron Ramsey with Santi playing his usual role on the left, but instead Arsene went with the Spaniard as our number 8. Perhaps Arsene wanted to give the distribution duties to somebody more capable than Mathieu Flamini. Maybe Arsene wanted to get the ball to Özil early and accurately. That was certainly the case in that first half. The speed of which Cazorla shifts the ball between his feet and then finding his team mate floating into small pockets of space was a joy to watch
Arsène had reverted back to the 4-1-4-1 system that I imagine will be used for a little while yet. Given the Özil and Welbeck chemistry shown at Villa Park last weekend, I am surprised that the same system was not deployed. Alexis Sanchez started on the bench for the second league game in a row. I am guessing here but I reckon that Arsène believes that Alexis is disrupting the fluidity of the attack with
The game was all over after a five minute spell starting in the 32nd minute. We've all been looking forward to the quick man playing with Mesut Özil but I guess we were not expecting a role reversal. Danny Welbeck playing the role of chief playmaker with Mesut Özil playing the part as clinical speedy striker. The weight of Welbeck's pass was impressive and the way Özil composed himself, assessed his options before stroking into the back of the net was lovely to see from a player who has been under huge pressure. A minute or so later, Arsenal were combining outside the Villa penalty area, Ramsey found Özil pealing away to the left hand side, you know the place, the area where he shouldn't be standing and the German wrapped the ball
Ciro Immobile's goal was poor from an Arsenal perspective. How he was able to run unchallenged from the half way line is beyond me. There was no protection in front of a defence that was back peddling from so far back. Immobile may have been fortunate to have the ball bounce into his path after a lucky break just inside the penalty area but his finish was assured. That goal came just before half time, a bad time to concede such a cheap goal.
- Manchester City (h) - Encouraging attacking, disheartening defending & Thoughts on Özil & 4-1-4-1
- Besiktas (h) - Alexis leads Arsenal to new route but same destination
- Everton (a) - Giroud provides missing link as Arsenal fully deserve draw
- Besiktas (a) - Ramsey & Wilshere pairing does not work & Chambers shines
- Crystal Palace (h) - Rambo rescues pre season Arsenal
- Manchester City (n) - Arsène's tweaked system looks impressive
- Monaco (h) 1st team performance shouldn't be a shock & Chambers impresses