Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 3 - Premier League
Arsenal shook away some of the midweek disappointment with a clinical and controlled victory at high flying Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon. Arsène rotated a few of his troops but Mesut Özil thankfully was not one of those players. I would have been one of those who would have rested both Mesut and Rambo against Aston Villa and that right there is why I am typing away at a keyboard and not sat in the managers chair. Well that and because I wasn't interviewed either.
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla brought not only freshness but familiarity which I thought was decisive at key moments during the game. But that was not before Aston Villa should have opened the scoring when a dead ball was not dealt with and Ciaran Clark was free to win and direct a header towards Wojciech Szczesny's goal, the pole spread himself well and diverted the ball away to safety. Set pieces still an issue then?
But for that the home team never really troubled us a great deal, even with Szczesny miskicking a back pass, Fabian Delph's shot was always going to be covered by Szczesny.
Arsène had said post match that he had tweaked the formation somewhat to get Mesut Özil between the lines more often and it was quite difficult to work out where exactly our players were playing because the rotation between the players was very fluid. Having Santi Cazorla in the side must have helped. The Spaniard has spent most of his Arsenal career on the left after starting in the middle so both he and our German swapped seamlessly.
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 everyone thinks he shouldn't be standing and the German wrapped the ball around the Villa defender and onto the grateful right boot of Danny Welbeck to score his first in an Arsenal shirt. A first of many you would hope.
What I liked about that goal was Welbeck's movement from near to far post and his pointing to Özil to play the ball into the area he wanted. Welbeck looks to have made strides in a short space of time. Arsène commented that his link up play needed work after the City game last weekend and only seven days later he looks to have improved dramatically in that area. I think his pass completion rate was over 96% which is sensational stuff for a forward. Unlike Oliver Giroud who is often very static, Welbeck drifted all over the pitch. Whether that be wide left or quite often dropping into a midfield position to receive the ball and play it off before spinning back into his centre forward position.
Look at this graphic that shows just how deep he was prepared to come and join in the play.
Two men who would profit massively from this were not on the pitch. Alexis Sanchez was rested to the bench and Theo Walcott is on his way back after injury. Those two darting into Welbeck's centre forward spaces should be pretty fun to watch.
In 36 Aly Cissokho had turned a Gibbs cross come shot into his own net. Funnily enough early in the first half Cissokho was taking a throw and I thought to myself that he had an expression of a man who could make an error. That was the case in the end.
In the second half Arsenal had turned the game into a training session. After physically demanding games against Manchester City and Dortmund there was no need to sprint around trying to add more goals, conserving energy and avoiding injury was the name of the game after obviously holding Aston Villa at bay. The Villa squad was reportedly suffering from illness but excuse me if I don't shed any tears. None was shed when we lost 1-0 at Old Trafford last season while we had several players suffering with illness.
Tomas Rosicky came on in the second half and did very well keeping possession. Watching him stabbing passes with the outside of his foot and then springing off to find more space made me want to see more. He'll surely play against Southampton in midweek. Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski also entered the fray with 12 minutes to go.
In short the game was a contest for the first 32 minutes. Arsenal looked fluid without threatening a great deal before the first goal. Once that went in the floodgates were opened before both ends were slammed shut. Game over.
Borussia Dortmund aside there have been some positive signs that our football is starting to click and the new players we have are gelling together. With some tough games coming up it could be coming along nicely at the right time.
For further reading check out last night's excellent Q&A with @beautifulgroan, @joeman4ever and @YankeeGunner. Really interesting reading. Check that out here.
'till the next time.