With Mesut Özil missing the game through injury, Arsene rang in the changes to his forward line. Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the right with Theo Walcott moving into centre forward to replace Oliver Giroud. In truth none of the changes really worked. Oxlade-Chamberlain made too many mistakes with his passing and dribbling while Theo Walcott failed to influence the game as he would have liked. He seems to have started the campaign predominately as a striker but has yet to impress in the position. What we can usually count on with Theo is the strength of his finishing but today it did not work out for him. His close range miss following Alexis' shot off Krul should have been put away but maybe that is partly down to his lack of games, I don't know.
Coutinho rattled the underside of the bar early on, smashing Benteke's cut back past Cech but not past the woodwork. Benteke caused Chambers all sorts of problems during the first 45 minutes and would have scored a side footer from close range but for Cech's amazing stop. I thought his stretching finger tip save onto the post from Coutinho's curled effort was every bit as good later on. In fact Petr Cech and Francis Coquelin were huge positives from a defensive point of view. As were Gabriel and Monreal to be fair.
When he fluffed up the excellent counter attack early in the game I was concerned that it would come back to haunt us but luckily I was wrong and we did not have to wait very long until the deadlock was broken. Mesut Özil who was at his decisive best, popped up on the left flank as he did often throughout the game guided a ball towards Giroud at speed. Mesut Özil does not pass the ball, that you see is for mere mortals, Mesut guides it just where he wants it to go. One can only assume the ball was a little behind Giroud because any adjustment on the ball would have hit a Palace player. Giroud brilliantly adjusted his body and semi scissor kicked the ball on the fall into the far corner of the net. Quite brilliant, so much so that it involuntarily made me run around my living room
Here is another question for you. Is the central midfield area an issue for the team? Arsène Wenger said last season that Santi Cazorla was our best and most consistent player, he always said he is less suited to a wide area. Against Chelsea and now against West Ham, little Santi has been pushed out into a wider area to accommodate Aaron Ramsey in the centre. This is nothing but speculation on my part but I am guessing that Aaron and Arsène have had a private chat about his position in the team and Arsène will do all he can to allow him to keep his central position. I could be wrong but I am convinced that Ramsey does not want anything to do with a wider role and that Arsène wants to build his midfield around the Welshman. But the one switch affects others around them. It affects Francis Coquelin who is the central midfield partner. It affects the left back as well as Santi Cazorla himself. Maybe it will all sort itself out with games and increased fitness/sharpness
Like in the last two matches against Chelsea, the game would be decided by the first team that could find that bit of magic first and capitalise on it. At the Emirates last season neither team could find the breakthrough and the game at Stamford Bridge was won as soon as Hazard weaved his way through the Arsenal defence before being halted by a trailing Koscielny leg. Apparently the same player was on the pitch at Wembley, although there isn't a great deal of proof of that.
The atmosphere at the Emirates was far better than I would have imagined before we got there. It was better than plenty of actual home matches. Maybe that was down to the occasion, perhaps the vibes around the game were all positive, who knows. Whatever it was, it made the occasion so much more enjoyable. I don't know how viable it is but I'd be up for watching more games on the big screen at the Emirates, perhaps the big televised away matches but I don't
First Alexis Sanchez made a similar run to the one he made at Wembley against Reading but then checked his run when he saw Özil shift to his left a bit more instead of playing the pass, now Theo Walcott thought he could be in and made a similar dart into the same area that Alexis went into just ahead of him, it was Alexis moving back into his left position that fooled the West Brom players and left Theo on his own on the right edge of the box. Özil gave it to Wilshere who knocked it on to Cazorla and the Spaniard slipped Walcott in who had been screaming for the ball. Walcott took a touch to get it out of his feet and whipped a shot across the keeper into the top corner of the goal.
- Sunderland (h) - Creativity not the problem, goal scorers are
- Manchester United (a) - Slow starting Gunners find 2nd half gears to earn point / Change is needed
- Hull City (a) - Arsenal & Ramsey answer questions emphatically
- Chelsea (h) Gunners missed Ox, Alexis hit & miss & Henry's comments
- Liverpool (h) - High energy Arsenal exact revenge
- Newcastle United (a) - Giroud scores, Welbeck needs to & Alexis finds his range
- Monaco (a) - September's Alexis could have found the 3rd