Who gives a shit about the community shield? This win wasn't about that. It was about beating Mourinho's Chelsea. That's worth celebrating.— Will Benn (@WengerBoy1) August 2, 2015
And that ladies and gentlemen sums it all up for me. Lifting the community shield meant very little as it is just a glorified friendly. You cannot win a real trophy based on one match so I am struggling to take this or last years success seriously. But during the match I was at least as nervous as I was during the cup final victory against Aston Villa.
Beating Chelsea and the disrespectful Jose Mourinho meant far more than a dressed up trophy. We played Mourinho at his own game and won.
My pre match theories about the full backs and centre midfield was all wrong. Bellerin and Monreal came back into the team, while Arsène started all three of Coquelin, Ramsey and Cazorla on the pitch. Instead of the Welshman moving wide, it was in fact Santi who took up a left centre midfield position. In fact the left side of the pitch was almost an area reserved for players to make runs into rather than it being a space owned by a particular player.
Interestingly enough, Theo Walcott got the central striker position ahead of Giroud.
The match was very competitive, you could see that with some of the violent off the ball attacks from Chelsea players like Ivanovic and Ramires.
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.
This time the magic came from the boots of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Walcott slid in Ox on the right and Chambo ducked inside his man on his left with only one thing on his mind and that was getting away a shot. He did just that and his left footed shot flew like an arrow into the top corner past the long and gangly Thibaut Courtois.
After the match Oxlade-Chamberlain said:
"I got a goal in the Emirates Cup, and it's what I need to do this year, there's no doubting that and I'm not afraid to say that I need to score more goals. I've set myself that target this year on a personal level so every time I'm on the pitch it's important that I try and contribute in some way and a goal or an assist is what I need to do. It was really nice to [score on Sunday] and as it's the winner it's that little bit more special."
That is great to hear and I hope he can continue scoring when the season kicks off, if he can develop that side of his game then he will force his way into the starting line up. His ability to drop a shoulder and fly past an opponent is very important when it comes to moving teams around, especially those who sit behind the ball.
What was noticeable about the game was our approach. We did not run around after Chelsea players pressing them high up and leaving ourselves exposed in behind, when we lost the ball, especially after our goal we dropped deep and plugged all the holes to Petr Cech's goal. I remember a number of times when the likes of Cesc Fabregas picked up the ball, they were looking around trying to find a passing option before having to play a much safer option.
Chelsea have been doing this to us for years now, scoring the first goal after exploiting the space we leave for them and then cutting off all the spaces by sitting deep. When you have a squad well versed in the defensive arts it is very difficult for the attacking team to break you down, especially when you have a squad worth more than 99% of world football. But the financial gap has closed, we have a stronger squad and FFP have made a difference in Chelsea's spending so the playing field has been leveled some what. On Sunday it was Jose Mourinho that was left frustrated by Arsenal's sea of red and white defenders whenever his team attacked.
Which brought about the following comment from the Chelsea manager
"One team played counter-attack football well," said Mourinho. "One team played with initiative well but without the sharpness you need to be more aggressive with the ball. The team tactically tried everything.
"My opinion is the team that defends very well, that leaves their philosophy in the dressing room, changes their attitude, plays all the second half with nine players in front of the box, doesn't concede and scores one goal, from that perspective they deserve to win."
*Chuckles* I don't need to pull out the many examples of the scruffy disrespectful one's hypocrisy over the years do I? You all know them already but I thought the stats were pretty telling.
Given that we scored after 23 minutes and did not have to force the issue, I thought it interesting that we had 3 more attempts on target whilst having 16 total attempts each.
Eden Hazard may have come on for a brief cameo because I remember Fabregas playing him through on the right but the Belgian international blazed over the bar when he faced the whites of Cech's eyes. Ramires also had a good chance from a header earlier on in the game where he headed over the bar from close range.
Santi Cazorla and Kieran Gibbs who came on late had two very good chances but where both thwarted by Courtois when it looked as if they would score.
Oxlade-Chamberlain received the man of the match award but it should have gone to Laurent Koscielny who was absolutely outstanding in defence. When he is on his game there is no getting past him.
With Cech in goal and the experience of our back four, it will be interesting to see how we do as a defensive unit this season.
Our defence was strong enough on the day to shut out Cesc, Hazard, Oscar and the rest of their attacking players. Oxlade-Chamberlain's goal was enough to win the match. The only question mark I would have about the game would be the performance of Theo Walcott as a central striker. His effort cannot be faulted but it was one of those games where Theo look out of place as a centre forward. Very little stuck when we needed it to and he did not cause his defenders enough of a problem when we had the ball. Giroud came on late in the game and we looked instantly better. It is one that will run and run. When we have Theo we miss what Giroud provides, when we have Giroud we miss what Theo gives us. So that is an area of the pitch to keep an eye on,
All the post match handshake waffle is just boring. I would much rather enjoy the victory than be distracted by any deflection attempts from Mourinho.
Undefeated in pre season, Alexis, Wilshere and Welbeck to come back into the squad, and who knows, maybe another top class player to be added to the collection. All seems well.
Roll on the Hammers.