Leicester City Review: A Captain’s Performance

Arsenal 3 – 1 Leicester City

A frustratingly brilliant night saw three points claimed when for thirty minutes or so, it looked like nothing good was going to come from anything. Leicester deservedly took the lead and then Mesut Özil flicked the switch and gave a virtuoso performance. The kind which is worth £300k per week; the kind you wish we’d see every week.

While nothing went right for Arsenal in the opening half-hour, everything went right for the remaining hour or so of the game. Özil was at the heart of a much-improved performance but on any other day, Alex Iwobi would probably have grabbed the Man of the Match a

It wasn’t all good and Unai Emery must find the key to unlocking the last hour from kick-off. Leicester felt aggrieved to be just one-up in the first half. Rob Holding handled in the area although initially, I thought it was the result of a coming together of bodies in aerial combat. The replays suggested otherwise and it looked like we dodged a bullet.

But dodge it we did. The Foxes goal was self-inflicted and capped off a miserable thirty minutes defending. We were disorganised and grateful for several good saves from Bernd Leno. In the second half, he came for a corner like Jay Leno, missed and was relieved as the ball thundered back off the bar into play. Fine margins, etc.

By then, the scores were level. Arsenal broke swiftly with a gentle progression across the pitch where Özil attacked purposefully, slid a pass to Bellerin and caressed the return into the goal via the far post. The finish was simply sublime but the move at pace was Arsenal at their very best: sharp, accurate passing with the ball doing the work.

Sweet, PEA

From there on in, it was footballing porn in attack. Emery resisted the temptation to tinker at half-time and let the team work the problems out of their system. Which they did.

On the hour, the changes came with Granit Xhaka pushed to left-back to replace Lichtsteiner who looked knackered. It was a brave move by the manager with the Swiss international on a yellow card. To Xhaka’s credit, he looked entirely comfortable in the role.

But the attack received impetus from the arrival of Aubameyang and Guendouzi. PEA’s first touch (almost) was sticking the ball in the back of the net after Özil split the defence with a pass which was expertly converted into an assist by Bellerin.

The third was the pick of the bunch. Intelligent running with Özil flicking the ball instinctively away from Schmeichel; PEA tapped in his second in as many minutes.

With that, it was over. The scoring at least, but not for want of effort. Guendouzi impressed when he came on, adding zip to recycling possession from midfield. It was the relentlessness which Leicester couldn’t cope with; the ball came back at them from all angles, accurately and precisely.

Unai Emery spoke afterwards about the impact of the result:

It was very important for us to beat Leicester because they’re not far behind us. Now we’ve created a lot of distance with the teams behind us.

Now in front we are looking at teams like Liverpool, like Manchester City, like Chelsea, but it’s not important to think about the end. We need to think about the next match against Crystal Palace on Sunday and I also think the Europa League is very important on Thursday.

Unai Emery looking up rather than down…

Wheels Are Turning

It’s a bit of a bump, to bring everyone back down to earth. Any chance of a “Jesus, that was good. Did you see the way we passed it?”

Probably not, although he did get a bit excitable:

When we were winning, controlling the game and finding chances to score, I think that’s the moment when our supporters pushed us forward and helped us. The atmosphere today was very big. The first 30 minutes was a difficult period and we needed to be together for our style and progressing in the match. We deserved to win today for everything in the 90 minutes.

Unai gets excited

And there you have it. Three points, with a good hour’s worth of football and the Emery Express keeps on chugging along. We know it will get derailed at some point, but what the heck; let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

’til Tomorrow.

39 thoughts on “Leicester City Review: A Captain’s Performance

  1. Thanks YW. Something to help the sandwiches ( no prawns) digest.
    Iwobi was soooo good, but no goals, no assists, and bloody Ozil gets motm. Ffl is such a stupid game.
    The first 30 minutes were such a shambles. I wonder where they start , analizing that. Probably anally. Best place. Didn’t seem to know it from their elbows.
    Even Tory boy couldn’t cover the spaces.
    Then CLUNK….. all change. Weird , but wonderful stuff.

  2. Top stuff Yogi! Futbol porn, absolutely!

    Ozil was at his Ozil best and it wasn’t just the attacking but the fact that when we needed that ‘somebody to take it by the scruff if the neck’, Ozil stood up and everybody followed and it was like he was out there to out do himself. The finish was sublime, then that pass to Bellerin was better and that goal was orgasmic.

    Iwobi was exciting, Lacazette continues to be superb, Torriera is the heartbeat but I want to shout out Bellerin, Leno and Mustafi. Bellerin was unlucky(though he struggled a bit too) but then after that he just continued his form of the season and grabbed 2 assists and defended much better. Leno made a couple of really smart saves to keep us in the match and his distribution was key to that last goal. He also knows though when to play short and when to play long and its natural as his is cat quick instincts off the line. Mustafi, he was good, was smart and more importantly didn’t make that mistake.

  3. C,

    THAT mistake. What can we say then? Beard needs a trim.
    Leno has to be NUMBER 1 now.
    Bellerin struggled with THE Space thing, just like everyone. But he is defending much more like a defender now. The Leech is rubbing off I would presume.
    V excited.
    Wish I’d booked the tickets to Lisbon now.

  4. Sometimes when you throw young players into a group of talented players, some show they are quality and progress and find consistency and others drop off. At this point, and honestly a good bet moving forward, Torriera and Guendouzi have shown their talent.

  5. C,

    Guendouzi in particular looked to take control.
    In seasons past, with a 2 goal lead, unless we were pushing for another constantly, we looked a bit at sea. He looked easy , controlling the pace and distribution, when all out assault wasn’t underway. He also joined in when it was.
    Is he good enough to displace Granit from the off tho?
    Tory boy, like a hunting terrier. Snapping everywhere, incessantly.

  6. ferkov,

    Leno needs to be the #1, no point or reason to go back to Cech.

    Bellerin is defending better, as is Mustafi….who would of thought, proper defensive coaching and defenders look better defending.

  7. Must have watched that 2&3 goal about 20 times today. Vintage.

    The electricity of Auba, Laca, Ozil and Iwobi for me, shows that they’ve got to start as a front 4. Mkhy/Ramsey or Ozil not both imo.

    Torriera again last night…Sublime. I can’t believe journos like this are paid…https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/arsenal-star-lucas-torreira-sprang-to-life-against-leicester-he-just-needs-to-get-a-little-fitter-a3968966.html

    Absolute nonsense.

  8. ferkov,

    Guendouzi does look a much better player but thr one that PSG hated to lose. Starting from the off, maybe not yet just to let him feature in the cups and bed him slowly and come january, he may very well have done that.

    Think the other thing is, we don’t have to actually throw him in the deep end because we do have Xhaka playing well. What will be even more fun to see is how Emery incorporates Maitland-Niles back into the fold.

  9. C,

    When he arrived and said he needed to keep Ramsey to build the team around…… he clearly had no idea the abundance of riches he could unlock so readily.
    Hope AMN responds to the challenge when given the opportunity.

    MLF. I’m surprised you’ve read that filth.
    There’s a morbid curiosity in all of us.
    I keep checking BBC for a backtrack from Wrighty or Herman Munster about… well everything in general, but Ozil in particular. Whenever it happens , they need to be SLAIN. Mercilesslessly

  10. Well that was a fantastic way to spend an evening. Genuinely impressed at how well Emery is doing so far. Even the defence is getting there…slowly

    Credit where it’s due I thought Ozil had a great game last night. Now if he could do that on a regular basis…

    Iwobi looked much better on the right. He gives Bellerin cover that MickyTar doesn’t and he is a dribbling threat in attack. On the left he doesn’t look as comfortable.

  11. Pete the Thirst,

    I personally would like to see the team that finished the last 30 mins starting vs Palace (Monreal back in and Xhaka in for Geunduzi which is hard to type as Guenduzi was superb also) . Iwobi was tracking back (and he’s currently in beast mode, never knew he was that strong) and he’s got bag loads of pace which in conjunction with Bellerin is a nightmare to defend against. Torriera and Guenduzi gave Ozil licence to do what he does, influence play up top and assist and score.

    Ozil HAS to be central….Last night shows what he CAN do when he’s in form and in right position with the correct players beside him.

    Bellerin looked ok defensively, got caught out by Chilwells run and it was a truly unfortunate deflection but apart from that he was good.

    Shout out to Mustafi…..SOLID after the first 10 minutes.

    I don’t get the handball argument; both players jumped (and biomechanically speaking when you do so you use your arms for momentum) and he collided with the Leicester player and ball hit his hands….Correct me if i’m wrong, but a handball is surely meant to be either deliberate attempt to influence the path of the ball or hands are in an unnatural position (which i could argue again as whne sliding, jumping/twisting your arms tend to follow the path that allows you to stabilise upon landing i mean no one slides in with their arms locked to their sides)

  12. ferkov,

    I don’t think he ever truly meant build around Ramsey, more the position, at the pivots, around. If you watch our play, everything is dictated by the pivots.

  13. I actually liked the back 3 tactic.

    Something Wenger never would have done 60 minutes into a game. When Lichsteiner came off, loads of people were in shock and flabbergasted that Xhaka was playing LB but hey, he was solid. But it seemed to give us an extra man in midfield and we bossed it after that. Leicester didn’t know what to do with us and we had extra runners everywhere.

    My one worry….Lack of height in the team. Corners against teams with height could hurt us. Perhaps the one advantage Cech has over Leno right now.

    i’m looking forward to seeing Maitland-Niles getting some time now he’s back….I love that it’s not going to be easy for him. Torriera, Guenduzi and even Xhaka look good right now.

  14. Alexis Sanchez has scored three Premier League goals since joining Manchester United.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored FOUR Premier League goals in his last 35 minutes of football.

    Love it.

  15. The fact that Ozil was involved in all the goals yesterday was great. I think I would prefer Auba coming from the bench, and Welbeck starting on the left or in the front two, my reason is simple, he has the pace and the ability to come on and change the game with his goals.

    Mkhitaryan and Ozil on at the same time is not a great combo. Iwobi is actually giving a good account of himself. The 4-2-3-1 suits Ozil, while the 4-2-2-2 suits Mkhitaryan. Iwobi seems to be doing well either way. We need a good winger to balance this side from the left and Sead can do a job in the interim, because Aubameyang is wasted on the left.

    I would like to see Maitland Niles play in the middle because against the top 6 teams, we can’t get away with Xhaka’s lack of place and slow turning, we need more of Guendouzi and AMN combining with Torreira to give assured performances.

    I believe Maitland Niles is an intelligent player and he will be buoyed by Torreira’s presence and which would help bring the best out of him.

  16. I’m still trying to figure out why Arsenal start as they do. It’s almost as if they sit back in order to assess the other team’s strategy for the match. Puzzling.
    Ozil was rampant; if only we could see that every game. He is unpredictable but when he is on he is definitely one of the best. Germany’s loss when he’s like this.
    Arsenal’s pace in the second half was electric and frequently had the Foxes in turmoil.
    I don’t think anyone expected such a good start, even though we hoped for one. There will be crashes and Ozil will still disappear in certain games but at least we know what this team is capable of.

  17. Three Coins (and a lady) In The Fountain.
    Speaking of Ramsey: he didn’t provide anything of note in his 15 (?) minutes. Yes, he’s good to have in the squad, and he is capable of some great moments, but he isn’t making himself indispensable.
    If he and his agent see that, then perhaps he may alter his wage demands.

  18. lari03,

    Agree re: Maitland-Niles. Energy, pace, Athleticism, tackling and a good passer…i think the combination a lot of people want to see his he and Torriera. Our youth players are potentially insane…Maitland-Niles, Torriera, Guenduzi, Smith-Rowe, Eddie Nketia, zach Medley (18 and 6 foot 5)….Iwobi is really coming on, Reiss Nelson is scoring for Hoff, and if he continues to play as he has, could save us tens of millions in buying a winger in summer.

    Not to mention some others who are turning heads.

  19. If we can beat Sporting, puts us essentially into the next round and means our remaining fixtures we can field a slightly weakened team to accommodate a very busy Nov and December.

    Liverpool, Spurs and Man u games are going to be huge in terms of telling how far we’ve developed.

  20. Yes but Liverpool is not exactly firing on all cylinders. Nothing would please me more than the continuation of this winning run, no mistakes, no losses, just ruthless wins all the way and then we see where we end up in May.

    I can remember Emery saying there were goals PSG scored and no one paid attention because it was Ligue Un. Now we are beginning to see Arsenal score fantastic goals and I think it will continue because there is a significant pattern of getting cutbacks leading to goals.

    I really look forward to the game against Liverpool because it will be an Emery vs Klopp match up and Emery might have a slight advantage of adjusting to beat his opposition.

  21. MesutsLeftFoot,

    Exactly, actually it makes you appreciate Ozil and Torriera as well.

    O yea, and whoever said they would take Rashford and Sanchez over Iwobi, well enjoy that, I’ll take Iwobi.

  22. Ozil looks like a completely different player under Unai Emery. Now officially the highest scoring German ever in the Premier League.

  23. No, he isn’t. Klinsmann got 30 as well although some are claiming it’s 29, which suggests one is a dubious claim. But anyway, one more and Ozil’s top beyond dispute.

  24. Juve look good. But not convinced of Cudraro or the midfielder who’s name I cba looking up to type. Starts with B

  25. I am overjoyed we have Leno but its crazy to think some thought Szczesny wasn’t good enough and preferred Ramsey and Jack over Pjanic(when we were linked with him).

  26. Good second half but i have to wonder what in the hell was our initial gameplan? Play Licht over at LB and have him bomb forward even moreso then Bellerin over on the right? He was bombing so hard and messing up passes left and right. FFS man. At first when Xhaka moved to LB i was nervous but we needed a left foot there. Seeing him standing his ground, not bombing forward, playing defense… It was glorious.

    Granted, i know our goals come from Hector bombing down the right but he had time and space inviting him to go forward in attack. Licht was just powering thru a crowd with no hope at all except leaving us terribly exposed. We got a bit lucky but sometimes the chips fall your way and we definitely took advantage.

    Something others may have touched on, i didnt feel like we were on the brink of a collapse. If Unai is able to remove that part of our game, boy my heart would appreciate it. I felt very solid, we kept the tempo up and moved the ball quickly in good positions. Not just lolly-gagging between the back 4, inviting pressure , and eventually caving.

    Agree on the height arguments and our set piece defending. Does anyone have proof that the high line actually works? In my laymen brain i would think you want the ball in front of you so you can attack it rather then backpedaling. That shit drives me insane but it seems like every team does it now a days. Maybe it’s one of those data-driven things where you have some statistical advantage doing the high line, even though it occasionally breaks.

    As always, thanks for the post YW. And thanks for reading my end of work day trying to kill time rant!

  27. thrillbo,

    I think it was all a simple offside trap but Laca dawdled. But he should not be the last man and frankly I was waiting for slaphead slabhead to get another chance but I agree it was our pace and urgency that made the second half nerveless. Are we getting more comfortable at the back or is Leno helping?

  28. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/premier-league-highest-paid-players-2018-8?r=US&IR=T

    With YW mentioning £ I thought I would see the highest earners again.

    Interesting.

    Jose whingeing – young team
    Work in progress
    Sanchez Pogba De Gea Lukaku all in top 10 highest earners plus Fred (ha!) just outside

    I am so glad Mesut showed his class last night- just fantastic to watch. But I also love Emery keeping us guessing with formations and personnel. Keeps everyone on their toes

  29. Finally into my echo chamber…
    Can Iwobi really play on right?
    I always thought left sided…

    But that seems only solution to getting PEA and ozil on pitch with Laca

    Why can’t Ramsey play RM like Parlour/Freddie hybrid?

    Negotiations are over on building team around him and #10 yadda yadda

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