It was my son's second birthday yesterday so we had both sides of the family over for presents, food and music. I had meticulously planned the day so we would all be singing happy birthday in the kitchen then half the family would be waving goodbye just in time for the rest of us to be walking into the living room for the kick off.
Unfortunately you can spend as much time as you like planning for the future but spanners can appear from nowhere and can get stuck in your works, or something. Maybe a little like key players being unavailable with injury every week. Yes I won't leave it alone.
As the game was on BBC1, I was able to record it and watched it properly in the early hours when everyone had either left or were sound asleep.
What was apparent was that when you part watch a game as well as trying to multitask with other things, you don't really watch a game at all. You might as well just wait to watch it properly when you can focus on the important details.
So it was quite the mix and match team wasn't it? I said pre match that I expected either Cazorla or Alexis to be rested, perhaps even both. Well they both started so what do I know? Although it was interesting to listen to Arsène post match talking about not wanting to rest players who were confident and in good form. Alexis being Alexis wanted to play when the opportunity of rest was offered to him. I suspect that had either Welbeck or Giroud been available then he wouldn't have had the choice. Alexis was again very good and the clear difference between the two sides. It is amazing watching him and you know he will shift the ball away from the opposition when they try and win the ball, the opposition player know it's coming also but nobody can do anything about it. There is still the touch of the Arshavin about him sometimes in the way that he attempts the decisive pass almost every opportunity even if it means giving the ball away. It's a sacrifice that I'm sure we can all handle if he keeps producing what he does both with and without the ball.
Theo Walcott made his first start for a year and as you'd expect he was rusty. His touch was loose at times and his passing radar was off. I might be a little harsh on him here as it's his first game back after a long time out but his defensive work rate needs to improve considerably. We have become accustomed to having Welbeck and Alexis playing in wide areas and not allowing the opposition time to pick a pass without pressure being put on that player. Theo more than once jogged and watched the opposition play the ball.
Close him down Theo https://t.co/0fm6x27SZs— Mean Lean (@arsenalvision) January 5, 2015
Like I said, it may well be just a case of getting 90 minutes under his belt but we've seen this from him in the past. We are morphing into a pressing team with our new forwards along with Jack and Ramsey in midfield. When you sign Welbeck and Alexis it would be criminal not to use that side of their game so if Theo is to squeeze himself back into this team then surely he will have to follow suit just as Oxlade-Chamberlain has. What Theo brings that we have badly missed is his runs. Even nowhere near his sharpest he found himself in at least two great goalscoring positions with his darts behind. Even with our new forwards in the squad, nobody provides that option as consistently as Theo does.
It's incredible that Özil and Theo have played less than 10 games together. Fingers crossed that is about to change as Mesut returns next week.
Per Mertesacker beat Curtis Davies in the air to open the scoring and it was pretty poorly defended in truth. I'd love to see Mertesacker more aggressive in those positions. With his height he should be having a lot more attempts on goal. On that subject, I'd prefer to have Alexis in the box at set pieces rather than taking them. A lot of times he'll be out jumped by larger opposition players but his desire to win headers and his ability to be in the right place at the right time is worth using. What was that game earlier on in the season where he scored a late header beating players a fair bit taller than him? I forget.
Joel Campbell was the surprise starter I thought. Maybe he is part of the reason why we have decided to allow Lukas Podolski to leave the club on loan. We have not seen very much of him so far in an Arsenal shirt but the manager watches him a few times a week behind the scenes. He knows where he is and what he needs to do to feature more in the first team. Every time I have watched him I have come to the same conclusion which is this. There is nothing wrong with his commitment. On a number of occasions he was full bloodied in his challenge and his tracking back was very good. That is a great sign, especially in this 2015 Arsenal team. There isn't much wrong with him technically either. Can spot a pass as we witnessed at the world cup and has always scored goals. What seems to be way off is his decision making.
Like Theo he is coming in pretty cold so it may well be harsh to make a proper judgement on him. Yesterday he seemed to play passes into space when team mates wanted it to feet and visa versa. He had two great chances to score and that in itself is pretty promising. One where Alexis put him through against the keeper and one in the second half where he dragged wide. When he relaxes and gets more games he'll score those but his interplay in the final third will have to get better with our attackers if he is to push his way into the team more often. He will need games for that so it's a little bit chicken and egg I guess.
Francis Coquelin played his third first team match in a row which has never happened before. There seems to be quite the divide on him and I must say I have always liked him. I've always liked his on pitch attitude. Judging by comments a few years back I suspect his attitude off the pitch has caused problems. I remember him getting impatient with his lack of chances stating that he had been training as well as Arteta or something. I think I have a soft spot for front foot players such as Gael Clichy, Francis Coquelin, Laurent Koscielny who are all aggressive when it comes to pinching the ball. How good or how average he is I haven't quite worked out yet. But personally I like what I see and I want to see him continue to play. His passing has been inconsistent but I wouldn't say that he cannot pass. He will play the ball out of touch one moment but then slice through three opposition players and into the feet of Cazorla in a gap. He also played one very good long pass to Theo who if he had a better touch on that pass could have scored. I'd like to see him with more of a first choice midfield around him, whether that he alongside Ramsey or Arteta. Whether he has impressed Arsène enough over these last few games to catapult him from being on loan to Charlton to back into the starting line up seems quite the long shot, so I don't expect him to have a future unless he continues to improve and impress. But in the mean time I am enjoying watching the Coq block, tackle and intercept.
Coq Block https://t.co/0TRL4OegVq— Mean Lean (@meanleanvideos) January 5, 2015
Alexis scored the second and killed off any Hull City hopes. I wish we had Alexis in last seasons team. That player to produce that moment of individual brilliance, or I suppose I wish we had our players as fit as we did before the latter stages of the Premier League run in last season. Quick turn and curl past the keeper for 2-0.
Pretty comfortable some more pitch time for some players who needed it. Bellerin was good once again, especially in the final third. When he has the body of a man and improves his defending he will be difficult to displace I would guess.
Pretty straight forward stuff in the end, through to the next round and hopefully some time to get Ramsey, Özil, Giroud and Welbeck back. Some light at the end of the tunnel perhaps.
A lot has been going on so no post match Podcast this week. Although we'll speak about the Hull game along with the Stoke match coming up in the next Podcast. Also no Q&A this week.
Everything back to normal from now on hopefully.
'til the next time.