No Doubting Tomas In Arsenal Win

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Brighton & Hove Albion 2 – 3 Arsenal

0 – 1 Walcott (2)
0 – 2 Özil (23)
1 – 2 O’Grady (50)
1 – 3 Rosicky (59)
2 – 3 Baldock (75)

Morning y’all. I know I’m in Houston; they are talking sunshine, temperatures redolent of an English summer’s day whilst the news has its’ Eye in the Sky showing miles of concrete beneath the wheels of a never-ending stream of cars. It’s 6am; the highways and by-ways are fuller than the M25 before building into the same car park mentality.

A pleasant surprise to find the hotel bar showing football – that’s the proper version not the native version – and doing so the rest of this week. An announcement to build an underground system here is just about the only weird thing left but things haven’t got that strange yet. This after all is the land of bumper stickers which claim ‘gasoline is the only green fuel’.

So to Arsenal, which after all is the reason we are here. To their credit, it was a performance which rarely threatened to build into the upset which saw the shameful exits of City and Chelsea this weekend. An early goal settles the nerves and puts the home side on the back foot, a second reinforces that message. Arsenal obliged by following that plan and for Theo Walcott, the rustiness of his finishing during his previous cameos, appears to have fallen by the wayside.

That’s good news for Arsenal, a little relief of pressure on Alexis and Giroud in the goalscoring stakes. If Aaron Ramsey can find his scoring boots – and he was a touch more accurate yesterday than before – on a regular basis, we’re going to be heading in the right direction.

It’s always tricky to look at a match like yesterday in anything but isolation. Seven changes with all the key personnel dropping out, means that things don’t run as smoothly as we might want. In an attacking sense, Arsène will have been satisfied. Chambers got forward well in support on the right and certainly for most of the match, Rosicky pulled the strings, blew the horns and tinged the little cymbal at the end with a fine volleyed finish for the third.

Wenger got the movement he would have desired, aided no doubt by the confidence the early goals bought for the scorers. Mesut Özil ought to score more you feel, with his well-timed run rewarded with a natural  composure in front of goal.

But it was Tomas who was the star with a high energy performance that belied his years. Maybe he is right, maybe the injuries suffered mean his footballing age is roughly one-seventh of his physical age. Perhaps this is his future at Arsenal – if there is one beyond the summer – to be the ‘cup captain’, the driving force in midfield because he played some sumptuous passes and made outstanding runs; things we take for granted from a player of his calibre but underline what a joy he is to watch.

Defensively, the chinks caused by the changes were evident. Both Brighton goals were poor to concede. From the minute the ball spiralled skywards from Rosicky’s poor clearance, Arsenal were in trouble. Chambers failure to even jump exacerbated matters and punishment came with Flamini’s lack of action telling. The second came from a stumble and Koscielny trying to play his way out of the area. Slack marking on the right gave Baldock the time to finish.

Moments like that make the case for the current starting XI – at the back at least – to remain intact. Certainly with the first, the second although Koscielny should have tried to find Row Z, were more to do with the initial stumble. With Gabriel coming according to the manager – bullishly confident on the player – in the next day or so, we can expect pressure to be put on the French defender as well as not seeing two left backs side-by-side in the defence.

Equally, the slump in Flamini’s performances has astonished, emphasizing how misleading statistics are. Coquelin’s emergence ought to have seen his compatriot raise his levels in discipline but yesterday simply reinforced Wenger’s decision to go with the younger of the pair. Where this leaves Arteta is an interesting question. Certainly the Spaniard will struggle to return immediately to the side when he regains fitness but of the two elder statesmen, I would expect him to be the one to keep the pressure on Coquelin’s form which can only be a good thing.

Why, oh, why Arsène did you not do that in the summer, alleviating some of the injury problems. The narrative for the season might – not would – have been different.

The FA Cup remains the best prospect for silverware and along with United, Arsenal will be favourites which probably means they will be drawn together in the Fifth Round. Arsène sought to downplay the tag but the reality is that most of the Premier League has fallen by the wayside so far and there’s no reason to not believe a return to Wembley is possible. You can’t say probable but to not with the cup this season might be classed as disappointing.

Whether I would have said that before the win at The Etihad is an interesting question, that just underlines the positive effect on winning one game on and off the pitch. Arsène underlined that,

We have a good momentum but let’s keep the urgency level very high and we know how quickly the momentum can die in football if your quality drops a little bit. We have a good opportunity to finish well this season so we have to show that we can compete in every single game now and earn our right to win the games.

It’s this which will determine the outcome of the season. Arsenal need others to drop points and to minimise the impact of their own failures. We won’t take maximum points between now and the end of the season and a top four place depends on others dropping more. We’ll see how that one pans out but in the meantime just enjoy a decent cup run.

’til Tomorrow. Or later on today for me, I suspect.

122 thoughts on “No Doubting Tomas In Arsenal Win

  1. Santori,
    You left out Cygan as well.
    I would have done anything to have seen a Cygan/Squillaci pairing.
    Cricket score

  2. Jonny,
    Thanks for your Australia Day comment.
    The nation’s individuals do collective bbq’s were tainted by news our PM , who last year decided to reintroduce knighthoods, decided that Prince Philip was a worthy recipient.
    Time for a new PM.

  3. Akpom has shown so much more than Sanogo.
    Struggle to understand how Wenger would send Sanogo on loan,but sell Akpom.
    Not that anything has been confirmed

  4. The one thing guaranteed in life is that even when everyone is against a player, his mother still loves.

    Okay, Santori confess, you’re Flamini’s mum.

  5. Nothing arrogant about the Tr7 look away.
    I thought deceiving your opponent about what you are going to do, was the art of a skilful player?
    Think Phil Neville should leave the commentary to his brother.

  6. Flamini did improve slowly over a long run of games, but crucially he didn’t improve enough, because Coquelin grabbed the position as soon as MF spent a couple of games on the sidelines.

    And from now Flamini’s probably only going to get worse if he’s just a replacement getting minutes here and there.

    This is also important – Coquelin is handy but not that good. Just if you hold him up against Flamini he looks incredible. With Arteta out so long this is how desperate we were for something approaching a CL-standard footballer in that role.

    And I do think people obsess about an outmoded style of player – this destroyer in the middle of the park These days you need a multi-talented footballer in that role, someone who can defend AND distribute, wriggle out of trouble and so on. There’s even an argument that he should be one of the most technical players in the team. And Flamini is most definitely not that. I think that’s the main reason I don’t rate him – he’s just not an Arsenal player.

  7. Cygan was all right until around 2005. Part of the problem was that we kept playing him left-back. He had no idea how to play the role. I remember being shocked that we got good money for him, but he did pretty well when he went off to Spain.

    Squillaci was clearly not cut out for the PL – too slow, but at the same time not imposing enough, and prone to panic.

    But that late-2012 run from Andre Santos is the worst from any regular player I’ve seen at Arsenal in the AW era. He got through a season looking suspect but just posing enough of an attacking threat, and then it all fell apart in 12-13 when he had Podolski ahead of him. What a left flank.

  8. Santori

    So you’re ot sure why a work permit is a potential issue on the Paulista potential deal?

    If you read the rules, until at least the summer there are clearly defined, specified and quantified rules. Which this player did not meet. Beyond that you’re entering a world of shades of grey. The hues of which are shaded by the individuals and personalities involved

    This would be a worry for any club. Before you begin to consider our recent “Face-Palm” performances on such matters in the recent past

    Not ludicrous at all to question it to my mind. In fact, to not do so would be rather myopic?

  9. Wavey

    Flamini’s mum? Maybe

    My money is on YW’s alter ego, giving him a vessel and vehicle to let the devil on the other shoulder from his sage like angel that aids his daily post get his troubled views into the ether 🙂

  10. Damon

    I think you could be onto something, but think more split personalities. It could explain the willingness to give us an extended post everyday, almost like a reverse blog.

  11. Birdkamp,
    I love your line re Squillaci- ” he was prone to panic”
    sums him up pretty well.
    And Santos, yes, forgot him. Oh dear.

  12. So is it true that Akpom joined at the age of 6??
    Not that changes things, but it would be an appalling decision to let him leave.

  13. I did have an alter-ego, but it never came to fruition. An imaginary diary written by AW. Based around actual events of a season, he liked a Special Brew every now and then – OK, every night – whilst worshipping Cilla Black and was the victim of a team of scouts who liked nothing more to send him black and white footage of great players early in their careers and laugh like drains when he asked for dossiers on them.

    Didn’t see the light of day, mainly because a friend who is an expert in such matters read some of the extracts and played a game of “Got, not got” with it. Except his version went, “Libellous, borderline libellous, definitely libellous, how much money have you got?”

  14. Must agree with Big Al for the most part about a DM but at the same time, I think a player like Kondogbia, Gustavo, Imbulu are players that are not only physically imposing type of players but also very technically gifted. Honestly, I just want one, Flamini is all but done, Arteta the same, LeCoq is a good player but a good squad player nothing more.

    Akpom to LIverpool would be ABSOLUTELY SOUL CRUSHING!!!!!

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