September 27, 2012
Sounds like I missed a fun night at the Emirates.
It may have only been against a clearly struggling Coventry City side but as some old duffer will always say, you can only beat what’s in front of you and for the second game running at the home of football we put six goals past a beleaguered opposition.
As I said yesterday, I didn’t see the game and I can only rely on Arsenal.com’s 12 minute highlight package for reference so there’ll be no match report from me. But I’m sure you can get plenty of that sort of stuff elsewhere.
What I can say is it’s very nice to see Olivier Giroud get off the mark. I thought he took his goal really well. He kept his cool despite one onrushing keeper and a series of onrushing negative headlines no doubt racing through his brain. He looked up, checked where the keeper was and smartly dinked the ball over him and into the net. One nil to the Arsenal and hopefully we can stop talking about the whole non-story that was Giroud’s lack of goals.
Frustratingly he missed the chance to double his tally with that penalty in the second half. It wasn’t a shocker of a kick exactly. If the keeper had guessed wrong we’d never have mentioned it again but I guess Giroud would want to maybe aim for the corners if he’s ever entrusted with the responsibility again.
What else? Arshavin was clearly productive playing in his preferred role just behind the striker. I gather he got as many things wrong as he got right as is his way but then when he does get things right it does tend to result in goals which is a quality that can’t be sniffed at. Other than the goal he scored which he took very smartly he also managed to play a big part in Giroud’s goal, finding acres of space in the middle of the park before laying it on for Coquelin to slip the ball through, he was brought down in the box for the penalty and then he sent in a pinpoint cross onto Miquel’s head for number six.
Whether he’s done enough to force himself back into the first team reckoning only Arsene Wenger knows but Le Boss does finally seem to have acknowledged what many Arsenal fans have been screaming since we signed the man:
Arshavin’s best position looks to be behind the striker now because that’s where his vision, the creative side of his game, can be very efficient. When he has to work on the flank it is sometimes working against him because he has to work too hard up and down. But when he’s central he always had an influence on the game.
Was that the sound of a penny dropping? If it was then ironically it may be about two months too late because with Cazorla now firmly ensconced in that position it’s hard to imagine anyone forcing him out. But it’s nice to know that we might have that option should we need a late goal and Cazorla’s legs have gone. Maybe there’s an ounce of life in Arshavin’s Arsenal career yet.
The other big talking point for the boss post match was of course the two goals from Theo Walcott, both extremely sweet efforts. Again, the irony for me is that having virtually demanded pre-match to be played as a centre forward, in scoring two such well taken goals from his usual wider starting position he’s proved to everyone that he doesn’t need to be played at centre forward. If he can score goals like that from the wings let’s just play him on the wings.
His contract situation still looks very dodgy and after the game Arsene Wenger sounded far from confident that a deal would be done. But it’s still being worked on:
We all want him to stay. I always said exactly the same. I always said let’s hope that we can sign up and extend [his contract]. I speak to Theo of course. To his agents? We are always in touch with them and you have to give us some time to sort that out.
His second goal in particular was a peach of a strike – running at a defence from just inside the half and then side footing the ball into the far corner in a manner that was, dare I say it, Henry-esque. Theo still has a fair few notches to go up to reach Thierry’s dizzy heights but if he can score a few like that against top quality opposition he’ll prove a lot of people wrong.
We’ve been here before of course with high scoring wins against lower ranked sides in the League Cup but usually we’re talking about the kids. It’s a measure of the depth of the squad now that despite taking the opportunity to blood a fair few youngsters, particularly in defence and midfield (plus a welcome substitute return for Emmanuel Frimpong) it’s the lesser used first teamers that stole all the headlines last night.
That’s great news for this season’s campaign but perhaps a message for the youngsters too. They’re going to have to work even harder to get noticed in what feels like a new age for this Arsenal squad. That might be hard to take for some but it means that only the most talented and dedicated are going to succeed. And that should drive them on to become better players and weed out the wannabes. Which in turn should make the first team even more competitive.
And I think that’s what they call a virtuous circle.
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