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Mertesacker - First ever Arsenal goal made up for his earlier error.

Mertesacker – First ever Arsenal goal made up for his earlier error.

The 5-2 win was a repeat of last season’s epic derby victory but the quality was not the same. After a poor run of only 1 win in 7 games, the victory came as relief and it’s magnitude returned joy to the Arsenal faithful. A local derby is a game like no other because at the heart of football, it is people that matter. Getting one over your closest neighbors gives local bragging rights and makes the season a little easier to bear.

 

 

Positives

You don’t read too much into a derby match. Also, you don’t over celebrate when your opponent was playing with 10 for 75 minutes of the match. But here are some positives.

I thought the attacking play was great to watch. While it must be said that it was done against a 10 man team, Santi and the forward 3 combined superbly. We didn’t see much of Wilshere today and that could be discounted to him still trying to regain form. His substitution midway in the second half probably shows he’s not physically ready.

Team Play: 5 different goal scorers, 4 different assist providers.

Team Play: 5 different goal scorers, 4 different assist providers.

The flank play was solid. I was bemoaning how we couldn’t use the flanks to our advantage just 4 games ago and today it worked out even when Tottenham was playing 4 at the back. Goals from Per, Giroud, Cazorla and Walcott came from the flanks. It shows how important it is to be able utilize all 3 channels. It was done today effectively and was a big reason for the scoreline.

 

The best thing about our top scorers list is that Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla all share the same number of goals (EPL).

 

Goals being shared is an excellent thing. All 5 goals came from different players and the best thing about our top scorers list is that Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla all share the same number of goals (EPL). The idea behind this is simple. You don’t want to shudder when a man goes down. Neither do you want to give your top scorer too much bargaining power. Having goals flowing from all players also gives your opponent a bigger headache. Our goal return rate has been good in the league even though the team has not gelled fully.

 

 

Adebayor

I think he will be the only player that will end the day low. I thought Spurs played well before and after the sending off. Whether we made them look good with our befuddling defensive instructions or not, Spurs rallied hard even under massive odds.

Of course, Adebyor did nobody favors by going studs up on Cazorla. It was unprofessional and disgusting whether it was against an Arsenal player or not. He deserved his red card. Spurs didn’t deserve to have a player like that after the effort they put in. Thankfully, Cazorla wasn’t badly affected.

 

I hate to see red cards for any team because it changes the game and you don’t get two equal teams anymore.

 

I hate to see red cards for any team because it changes the game and you don’t get two equal teams anymore. You can be sure both teams are not taking to him kindly today.

Adebayor is sent off for a horrific challenge. Everyone here has played for Arsenal.

Adebayor is sent off for a horrific challenge. Everyone here has played for Arsenal.

 

 

4-3-3

The key reason to play this formation is because the middle 3 are expected to dominate the centre of the park outnumbering the middle 2 of 4-4-2. But that was not the case for us in the game. Like it or not. Nearly all our goals came from the flanks. I like the fact that the flanks are working out again but why do we play 4-3-3 when we don’t dominate the midfield?

Even in the second half with a near constant 2 goal advantage, we often look soft in the middle. I don’t want to bring the entire Diaby thing again because that guy is as good as gone for the season (again). However, the trio of Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla is unbalanced even though technically mouth watering. We need a Felliani more than we need a Falco or Llorente, etc to make our 4-3-3 work.

Well, fat hope of that happening.

 

 

Defending

You cannot tolerate defensive errors when the opposing team has been down to 10 men for most of the game. Yet, for some ridiculous reason we kept attempting to contain their attacks and fell back consistently. Even in a 2 on 1, 3 on 1 and absurdly, 4 on 1 – all 4 defenders will just keep back peddling allowing the opponent into our box or the byline. The result? Almost always a corner, freekick or throw in conceded in a very dangerous position. And today, it yielded Spurs a mini revival at 4-2.

 

We just keep back peddling allowing the opponent into our box or the byline.

 

Much of my enthusiasm in the early season was seeing the midfield win balls and push on. Now we seem to have reverted to last season where the midfield is in no way a line of defense. Is this the Diaby thing again? I don’t know but someone should ring up Wenger and Bould and tell them its not wise to invite pressure considering how we are so poor at defending set pieces.

 

 

Speed?

We have 2 good consistent performers this season – Per and Giroud. They are big, they make their presence count and they have been leading pillars at the back and at the front. But they do not fit our game. Our game seems to be about pace both in attack and defense. Per was at fault for the first because he was made to push and couldn’t return in time. He is not as fast as Kosc and TV5 but he is a far more composed defender and a much better reader of the game.

The same goes with Giroud. He is slow. Sickening slow. You can count on centre backs beating him to a race for the ball 9 times out of 10. But he is great in the air and his off the ball movement grants him space even in a packed box (which was how he scored the third even under the pressure of 3 defenders). And he has garnered 5 goals in 5 games. But fact is, they don’t fit the system we employ.

 

Mertesacker and Giroud don’t fit the system we employ. But we need them.

 

I rather have a solid system that may not be as fast and fluid but one that is easier to deploy. You don’t get one touch passes at United or City at insane speeds but you get a certain degree of stability, and a balance between physical strength and pace. The reason is simple. You’re not going to be able to pull off the current system week in and week out. It is more difficult to play that way. On top of that, going about at those speeds yield a higher chance of severe injuries (high paced collisions) and also tires you out a lot faster.

Giroud: He does it if you cross it. Can we improve our crosses?

Giroud: He does it if you cross it. Can we improve our crosses?

The good news is that Wenger knows we need both Per and Giroud. The bad news is that Wenger has been really slow at making system changes. The only two I can remember is changing from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 when he first arrived and then to 4-3-3 when he decided to build the team around Cesc. How we adapt will probably be the story of this season.

 

 

Conclusion

The result is a relief. It broke a long winless streak. One can only hope that this performance pushes the team on. I would still say our 5-2 of last season was better. We were the team on top for the full 90 minutes and it was against 11. But who am I to complain considering Arsenal came into this game in poor form.

There are still problems to fix and we have big games in the coming weeks. But in any team sport, you go from strength to strength and a good result always makes it easier.

Onwards.

 

 

Ratings

GK W. Sczeney 7 Didn’t have much to do. Good close range stop against Defoe but helpless on the rebound.
RB B. Sagna 7.5 Solid performance. Kept Bale in check for most of the game.
CB P. Mertesacker 7.5 Great headed equalizer. Has to be more careful against quick opponents. Played a little too high up today.
CB L. Koscielny 7.5 Tidy. Seemed to be the only defender we had that would actually tackle.
LB T. Vermalean 7 Didn’t offer much going forward on the flank but generally did well. Needs to commit rather than backpeddle all the time.
CM M. Arteta 6.5 Some glaring mistakes that allowed counter attacks. Kept things moderately tidy but not at his usual level.
CM J. Wilshere 6.5 One or two good flicks. Hustled and closed players down but still not fully ready.
AM S. Cazorla 8 Man of the match. Kept the attack ticking. Key component of some great attacking teamplay.
RF T. Walcott 8 Lively and caused multiple problems for Tottenham. Needs to learn how to fall properly. That minor shoulder injury was uncalled for.
CF O. Giroud 7.5 Again did well both in the box and in building up play. Looks like the only player we have that can flick balls on.
LF L. Podolski 7.5 Finally tracking back well and gave his all. Bulldog approach gave us the lead. Ran out of steam with 10 minutes to go again. Still adjusting.
SUB A. Ramsey 6 Did nothing of note. He is in a rut currently.
SUB A. Chamberlain 7 Came on and continued where Walcott left off beating men on the flank. Provided the final assist.
SUB A. Santos 6.5 Energetic effort but nothing of note. Ran all over the pitch to win and receive balls.
Dave Junia

Dave Junia | administrator

Analyst. Cyclist. Photographer

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