What we were unlikely to witness was an Arsenal performance full of swashbuckling attacking football, the defeat in midweek would have taken a lot out of the players emotionally and mentally. All that was needed was a performance of hard work, discipline and three points and that is pretty much what we got on Sunday afternoon.
I was interested to know how Arsène would change things after Monaco and when the team sheet came in, I was surprised not to see a few more changes to the team. I guess he was concerned about making too many changes and losing any positive chemistry we had prior to the CL match.
The two biggest calls were Gabriel coming in for Mertesacker and the second was the non selection of Theo Walcott. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who has been out for a while with injury returned ahead of our speedster. Arsène had noted pre match that his offensive players had to be strong at both ends of the pitch and if you can't then you don't play. I couldn't help but feel that was directed at Theo when I saw him sat on the bench. I took a bit of stick on Twitter when I mentioned Theo's lack of desire to close the ball down during the Hull City match along with a clip but it appears the manager requires more from this team when not in possession. It is now three games in a row where Theo Walcott has not started for Arsenal. That will dent his ego somewhat.
It doesn't seem like good timing given his contract situation but maybe, just maybe we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Theo Walcott at Arsenal. That could of course all change rather quickly depending on how Theo takes up the challenge behind the scenes at London Colny.
Per Mertesacker was one of our best players last season. Incredibly consistent and one of the senior players that others turned to. This season, post World Cup triumph he has been a different player. Perhaps that is largely down to the inconsistency of stability to our back line but whatever way you look at it, as an individual he hasn't been at the same level. It remains to be seen whether Arsène is merely resting the German or if new boy Gabriel is on course for a run of games alongside Laurent Koscielny.
The Brazilian stopper had a mixed bag of a performance, one where post match reaction might be rather different today had his keeper, David Ospina not made a telling contribution by racing out of goal after Gabriel misjudged a situation, Ospina's flick away from Lukaku and then wonderful tackle out for a throw. Gabriel was not to be outdone on the tackling front though as he made up for his error by making a last ditch tackle in the box on the same player following a misjudgment from Laurent Koscielny.
It's certainly too early to make any definitive conclusions over our new centre back but the foundations he has to work with are very interesting indeed. His pace gives us more insurance when pushing up the pitch and he is also more aggressive than Mertesacker. Time will tell whether or not he can keep errors down to a minimum.
Everton had a lot of possession in non dangerous positions and did not test Ospina very much at all. The Columbian produced a decent save to deny Lukaku in the second half and also an Aaron Lennon shot but I'd expect any Arsenal keeper to be saving those. It was the first half mopping up of the Gabriel situation that impressed me the most.
Oliver Giroud had missed a good chance with a low header but on 39, the Frenchman swept in Mesut Özil's corner to open the scoring.
He has been in good form before the Monaco game so it would be a shame if that one truly poor performance halted his excellent run of goals domestically.
Alexis Sanchez has gone off the boil somewhat during this second half of the season and you could see that once again he was not at his sharpest. He is still very wasteful with possession, when he is scoring and creating it doesn't matter quite so much but when they dry up as they have of late, it hurts the team. I hope Arsène rests him midweek for Old Trafford. That would be a great platform to return to your best.
Francis Coquelin displayed his excellent attitude once more when he came back onto the pitch after suffering from a broken nose. He had accidentally clattered into Oliver Giroud when the ball was in the air and came off second best. Having never suffered a broken nose myself, I don't know with any certainty but I'd imagine it was pretty painful stuff, yet he remained on the pitch. Well until the nose was hit again with the ball. *Ouch*
Tomas Rosicky replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who I really, really like as a player but is still finding his sharpness. Rosicky must have been reading Arsène's pre match comments because he was bursting around the pitch like a man possessed.
I love this clip, it just typifies the man.
RT Vine_Football: Rosicky. http://t.co/FRrAtRTRbc— BEST VINES (@BEST_VINNEEs) March 1, 2015
It was the evergreen Rosicky that sealed the game with a deflected effort in the 89th minute after another Özil assist.
We could have done with one of those at 0-0 in midweek but ahh well.
The three points puts Arsenal only four points behind Manchester City in second who lost at a strong looking Liverpool team. Fingers crossed we can put the pressure on with another win at QPR on Wednesday.
Check out the post match Q&A here and check back later for the Podcast.