January 18, 2015

Both Feet On The Ground

By Michael Clements

It goes without saying that we were all surprised at Wenger's ability willingness to implement a 'Plan B'. We've lived through an era of complete Wengerism, where it's his way or the highway. Give the man credit where it's due - even when he's forced into playing a more defensive-minded game he still manages to make it look beautiful and with plenty of attacking flair. It's days like today that you sit back and thank the football Gods that you're a Gooner.

While Santi Cazorla took all the plaudits (and deservedly so), it was the entire team that stepped up and prevented a fantastic Manchester City side from doing absolutely anything at all with the ball. Coquelin has stepped into the Defensive Midfielder role and run with it, and not a moment too soon. It's so nice knowing you've got a big Coq that can handle the business when needed. I genuinely hope he continues this fine rise to form, and at 23 years old I think we've just potentially made the addition to our squad that we so badly needed. Is he world class? Nope, but he looks like he would give anything for this team, and surrounded by a quality team I see no reason why he can't keep improving.

Alexis' habit of running all over the field, tracking back for every attack is beginning to rub off on his team mates. Cazorla's defensive game was outstanding against the Mancunians, as was Giroud's. It was this effort from the boys in yellow that won us the game at the Etihad. 

Cazorla clearly loves to play in that playmaking role, and perhaps it's Mesut Ozil returning to fitness, breathing down his neck that's pushed the Spaniard over the edge? It's no secret that a little competition goes a long way, and player's suddenly find an extra gear when fighting to keep their place in the team. Don't get me wrong, Santi has always been a gem in this Arsenal Squad, but his performance against Man City was sublime. The discussion came up in the pub whether there is a better two-footed player in the world right now. Frankly, I'd love to hear about him if there was. 

I hope our old friend, Szczesny can respond to the competition in a similar way, and that Ospina's presence and solid performances will push the Pole to rediscover his form. Presently I quite like the Columbian, not just for his song, but for his presence in the box. Rule number one for a 'keeper is to command your area, and he does just that, albeit with limited work to do over his last three clean sheets. 

The Ox and Ramsey, while both solid, did look a touch jaded in the second half and I would assume a bit of rotation in both of their spots for the FA Cup game against Brighton next weekend. The Ox has had one of the longest stretch of games in his Arsenal career yet, while Ramsey doesn't quite look like he's recovered fully from his injury - at least I'm hoping that's what it is, and the fact he went down in the second half holding his thigh wasn't a fresh injury. 

Finally, a shout-out to our full backs (and defense in general) - Solid. Monreal and Bellarin both had their best games in an Arsenal shirt against Citeh, and didn't seem to look concerned in the slightest, which says a lot when they were up against such a strong attacking team. Monreal's botched clearance late in the game had me skidding my pants slightly, but in general they looked as good as any Arsenal full back recently. 

Well done, boys. Focus for 90 minutes, and a game that was seen all the way to the finish, as it should be. An FA Cup game against Brighton Hove & Albion in a week, as we defend our trophy, then we welcome Aston Villa to the Emirates a week later. 

Just 3 points behind Southampton! (Never thought I'd be happy to say that).

Up The Arsenal!