December 4, 2014

One Nil To The Arsenal! One Nil To The Arsenal!

By Scott Sharba

It just seems to be the way it goes; the opposing keeper has the match of his life whenever the Arsenal comes to play. My hat is off to Forster, stunning stuff. This performance by the English shot stopper made for an extremely frustrating game to watch, but not even he could keep out the absolute class that is Alexis Sanchez. As soon as I saw the ball drop to the Chilean’s feet I let out a sigh of relief. I knew that a second later I would see the ripple of that stubborn Southampton net. I guess buying quality really does make a difference. 

All in all I believe it was a solid performance. Rather labored, a lack of ideas, strayed passes, even boring at times. But Arsene's boys fought into the dying minutes and got their reward. We could have easily won that match by a few goals though, with golden chances falling to Welbeck and Giroud on either side of half time. Came out with the 3-points in the end though, so you have a happy gooner over here. 

Speaking of Giroud, his addition in the 65th minute really changed the game. Wenger's tactical switch of our formation to a 4-4-2 turned out to work wonders. I hope we see this formation more often, with it showing promise in the few times it has been used recently and the earlier trophy bearing periods of the Wenger era. Welbeck had a pretty decent game alone up top with his best chance coming in the 5th minute when Cazorla played him clean through with an absolute peach of a ball. Should have buried that one, Danny. I also liked his Henry-esque attempt at THAT back heel. I'm sure it'll come off someday, lad. Giroud had a terrific hit off the half volley a few minutes after coming on at the pitch and another great effort in the form of a looping header that produced a world class save from Forster. This stepped up Welbeck's game as well when he almost put a curling shot into the net after a great back heeled flick by Arsenal’s Frenchman. 

The gunners defense was solid against a threatening Saints side. The fullbacks put in encouraging performances with Chambers being the more positive of the two. Brilliant attacking play by the former Southampton man. Monreal did well but had a few occasions where Koscielny had to clean up some sloppy play. I’ll chalk that up to him more than likely carrying an injury. Kos and BFG, as always, looked fantastic together. Their bromance in the heart of defense beginning to flourish again. Hopefully Kos can stay fit, he was immense. 

Cazorla is continuing his return to form with another wonderful performance. Still can't decide his dominant foot and I don't think I ever will. His (should have been) assist to Welbeck in the opening few minutes was a thing of through ball beauty. Deserved a goal. Santi also put it right on Welbeck’s head from a free kick that was brilliantly saved in stoppage time of the first half. Great stuff from Cazorla; happy to see him enjoying his football.

I'll be the first to say that I was not confident in Martinez coming into the side but I'm starting to think that Szczesny needs to be looking over his shoulder. Three starts and three clean sheets across all competitions for the young Argentinian is not a bad turn out. While I think this has a lot to do with the tightening of our defense, you can’t discredit the few fine saves and commanding performances the young man has had. The diving catch of Pelle’s deflected shot near the end of the first half, and his clearance deep into the Saints half that almost found Sanchez at the beginning of the second were both really impressive. Promising future for Emi Martinez. 

I also want to talk about Ramsey's assist. Right before the goal the ball struck Jose Fonte’s arm which was a clear penalty. A lot of players would have thrown their arms up (kind of like Giroud) and gave up on the play, or at least got distracted from the play. Ramsey dug down and dribbled past his man before turning and delivering a delicious pass right on a plate for Alexis to slot home. Excellent stuff from our Welsh midfielder. I can see signs of 2013/2014 Ramsey starting to creep back.
This brings me to Alexis; what a player. I love him to bits. Worked his hooped socks off, which we aren't unaccustomed to seeing in his short time here at the Emirates, and inevitably bagged himself another goal. 14 in 22 games is something special. Did anybody else see that no-look pass? Madness. Sanchez is truly proving week in week out to be a true master stroke of a signing from Arsene. His match winning goals actually make up for all the 'Alexis FC' memes floating around. It's almost as if we bought him to score goals for us? Weird. (Sarcasm alert)

This important win unfortunately doesn't see us make any headway in terms of league places or on the title race (I knew we couldn't count on Tottensh*t). What this result does do though is keep us from falling even further behind. We may still sit in 7th but only 4 points separates 3rd from 10th place. With four teams ahead of us playing each other this weekend, if we can get a result, we could see a dramatic spring up the table. So all in all, a good days work from the gunners. Let's take this great run of form to the Britannia on Saturday and smash the Potters.