Nine changes in Belgrade and one would argue that it was a cojones laden performance. You never can tell which Arsenal will turn up especially after the team left the crime scene at Vicarage Road last Saturday night. A professional job was required, one was provided. This despite the profligacy in front of goal that we at times saw from Giroud and Walcott. The Frenchman had one howler of a miss that everyone in Serbia seemed to laugh at.
So far, the second string on Europa League duty seem to be immune from the inconsistency plaguing the Premier League 1st XI. Top of the group with two home matches against Red Star and Bate Borisov gives Arsenal a good chance of qualifying top in the group and waiting to see what competition will drop our way from the Champions League.
Shine Bright Like An Immortal
Martin Keown is not only content with declaring that Reiss Nelson is a diamond geezer with a bit of a Neymar in him. He also believes that Jack Wilshere has a talent that mere mortals are incapable of grasping. Indeed our Jack had a man of the match performance, playing a critical role in setting up Giroud’s acrobatic 86th minute winner. This was a match where Arsenal had to grind their way to the finish, wearing down the opposition to submission. There were certain qualities of grit and determination that the team and make shift defenders showed in a raucous environment. Considering the performance at Vicarage Road last weekend, this was the sort of match Arsenal was expected to slip up on.
Li’l Jack drove Arsenal forward, and surely we must now see him in the Premier League. Arséne said as much:
He will get a chance in the Premier League don’t worry about that. Games of that intensity will help him a lot.
I’m sure the England Manager will also now be watching Li’l Jack. Wilshere has more than an incentive. A place in England’s World Cup team and a place in the Arsenal starting XI are prizes to behold for someone who has been on the side-lines too long.
With Mesut Ozil’s mind at Old Trafford – well, who knows what to believe except that his mind isn’t at Arsenal – let’s hope Li’l Jack can continue his key performances.
We have Cojones we do, we have Brawn
After the game, Arséne was desperate to point out the character that seemed to elude the team last Saturday.
In the end we got a win that gives credit to the mentality of the team. Overall the spirit we showed was remarkable, fighting together. They defended very well, with a lot of determination. But the goal was the consequence of us wanting to play through them.
For most people though, the question still remains why this grit and determination isn’t seen in our bread and butter competition, the Premier League. Surely if we wanted to challenge – even if for the top four – we should be beating teams like Stoke and Watford. Not to say that they’re push overs, but Man City put 6 goals past each of those teams.
Look Ma! It’s Mathieu Debuchy
326 days is a long time to wait for your first Arsenal start after your last injury. The forgotten man was finally on the team sheet. Despite having the sense that he has moved on, it was good to see him on the pitch. I would hope that he starts getting some confidence back because the time is surely coming when we will have to use him in the Premier League.
Wenger clearly took a calculated risk to put up such a makeshift defence with 17-year-old Reiss Nelson and 20-year-old Maitland-Niles as wing backs. I still can’t get my head around Mohammed Elneny marshalling the defensive line. For most part, we defended well, with the header onto the post the only notable scare from the Serbians. We’ve had too many square pegs in round holes for my liking though. That strategy will only take us so far before we get another hiding. We might get away with it against Norwich and even Red Star in the return leg, but surely this can’t be a long-term strategy.
Deja vu or Groundhog Day – Take Your Pick
We’ve been here before. A stumble in the league, a game against a team that can’t buy a win. But we still manage to make hard work of it. I recently watched a re-run of the 7-0 Arsenal v Everton game. It was the last game Edu played for Arsenal at Highbury. We even had the luxury of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires deliberating over who will take the penalty before the captain Vieira sorted it out by pointing to Edu – surely a beautiful gesture for the Brazilian to get a last goal at Highbury.
Those were the days, right? When the defensive line had hard men like Sol Campbell and Lauren. When our front line was as scary as Henry, Bergkamp and Pires with a young Van Persie and Reyes lingering in the background. Boy don’t I wish for one of them days on Sunday at Goodison Park. Just one day that will give Arsenal fans a feel good factor.
What am I talking about, Duh? Matches like those will probably soon only be available on the footballing equivalent of the History Channel. After last weekend, I’ll take a draw away at Everton and run back south very fast.
3 points will be nice though.