The Daily Mail has typically jumped on the Wenger bandwagon today, stating that Arsene must sign a new deal as silverware is imminent. Because we beat Southampton at home. I’m not quite as fickle – I still believe a top 4 finish won’t be a formality. However, I do think that Arsenal’s first half performance yesterday was excellent, and here are my thoughts on the game as a whole. Also, check out our player ratings article.
1. We can score without van Persie… or at least, the mysterious OG will score for us! Those six goals give us the best goal difference in the league, with +7. According to BBC Sport, we had 20 shots, which gives us a pretty good goals-to-shots-ratio. If we can play as we did in the first half in every game, we will have a very good chance at scoring more goals than we did last season. Also, I can’t mention van Persie without reminding everyone of his horrendous miss yesterday. It was truly terrible.
2. Szczesny is still our no.1 in Wenger’s eyes… but he can’t keep on making silly mistakes. Wojciech walked straight into the line-up following his injury, ousting Mannone from the first team. His kicking wasn’t great and the mistake for the goal was poor. It would’ve been great to have had four clean sheets, but it wasn’t to be. There seemed to be a bit of a mix-up between Szczesny and Jenkinson for the goal, as the latter was under the ball as our keeper jumped to catch it. Szczesny had a good season last campaign, but he did make a few silly mistakes, such as against Spurs and Norwich. He needs to wipe these from his game if he wants to secure his sport as no.1. But he’s still young and has plenty of time to make his mark.
3. Podolski waddles. But he’s a very good football, too. I think it’s something about his arms – they seem stuck in the same position the whole time. It was particularly clear when Lukas celebrated the goal. And what a goal it was – not right in the corner, but it had more than enough power to beat the keeper. His run for the first goal showed his tenacity and strength as well. He had a very good game.
4. A fluid front 3 can work; we don’t always need an out-and-out striker. This is especially the case in home games against “lesser” opposition. Gervinho, Podolski, Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain interchanged beautifully. We had midfielders making late runs into the box; we had players finding space on the wings; Gervinho was on the right one moment and on the left a second later; we saw Cazorla finding space everywhere. This kind of formation gives us many more options in attack.
5. Wenger is prepared to be more flexible with team selection. We have seen Wenger be very stubborn in the past. He would stick with players, regardless of form, because he believed in them. Arsene rested Giroud and Diaby (partly due to injury) for our first Champions League game on Tuesday. Such flexibility is very important in busy periods such as this.