In the aftermath of the equaliser, with Sunderland enjoying an ominous (and first) period of sustained pressure, it occurred to me that this match might be part of some elaborate induction exercise for young Mr Ozil. “So the way it works up North is, once we’re a goal up, cruising, it’s foot off the gas time, concede at the least opportune moment – ideally with a touch of tragicomic flair – and then panic stations. Got that? Wunderbar.”
Before the game kicked off I’d been feeling fairly confident, in large part based on Sunderland’s parlous start to the season. Nagging away at that confidence, though, was the stat doing the rounds that only Fulham had allowed more shots on target than Arsenal so far this season.
Having watched today’s game it’s easy to see why. Sunderland took a whopping 18 shots today, but only three of those were on target. We managed 14 – but, of those, six were on target and – here comes the crucial bit – three ended up in the net. So I suppose the story is their woeful finishing and our extra quality. Certainly I wouldn’t want to have to ride the kind of luck we used today against better sides, but given the injury situation these are three vital points that put a healthy glow on the start to the season.
I’ve got some serious business to attend to this weekend, but here are some other brief musings.
Winning seven league games away from home in a row…
…Is no mean feat. Plenty of people have observed that there’s a new seriousness about this squad, and certainly there aren’t many – any? – previous sides in the Emirates era who could’ve put this sort of run together. Given that it looks like there’s still plenty of room for individual development, the overall prospects are exciting.
Mertesacker and Arteta are the footballing equivalent of antacid
In that they seem able to calm even the most roiling stomachs. (I use calm here in the context of watching Arsenal ever being calm – i.e. very comparatively.) Without those two there just doesn’t seem to be the organisation or leadership required to manage games into a state of inertness. I look to Flamini as the veteran in midfield to provide that sort of guidance, but it takes more than just pointing and shouting. Fortunately, today Rambo stepped up with a match-leading seven out of eight tackles won, and a superb brace.
Rambo hasn’t just found his old form. He’s superseded it
In adding goals to his game, and crucial ones today, Ramsey isn’t becoming the player he was, he’s on the verge of becoming the one we hoped he’d develop into. Two very different finishes today, both of which required tremendous technique – and I actually think I preferred the second. It might have been less spectacular, but the movement, control, and calmness were all so assured that I actually initially thought it was Ozil. (Oh the joy of streams.) There isn’t a Mouse Man of the Match award, but if there were, Rambo would all sorts of be it tonight.
Sunderland’s ghost goal
Is the sort of thing we’d be livid about had it gone against us. If Atkinson saw Sagna as fouling Altidore, then why he didn’t play advantage when the Sunderland man burst away is bizarre. Watching the Hawkeye tech in action against Villa, I wondered how long it’d be before it got used for a genuinely debatable incident. Had it been called on today, as it should have been, it would have confirmed the shot had crossed the line. Strange stuff then, particularly considering that Sagna’s foul was surely one that by definition denied a goalscoring chance. Worth bearing in mind next time we’re feeling hard done by.
Martin Atkinson and Arsenal
Prior to today, with Atkinson in charge we’d won none of our last five league games (three draws, two losses). It’s the kind of stat that sends shivers down Arsenal fans’ spines. But honestly I’m going to try to ignore that sort of thing this season. I’m no conspiracy theorist, particularly when we’re talking about small sample sizes and without the precise context of each result, so I try to ignore that kind of record now. In any case, certainly no complaints about the pen today.
Kos needs to calm down
Or at least he does if all the ‘world class’ proclamations aren’t going to look silly. After his early sending off against City last year I called him, perhaps slightly harshly, an error machine. His performances since have proved why we rate him so highly, but there’s still work to do on the decision-making if the penalties, red cards and even own goals are going to be cut out. And they need to be.
The worst part of the game
Was seeing Giroud go down injured. Agent Smith would remind Mr Wenger that that is the sound of inevitability. Hopefully Le Beau recovers okay, because he’s started the season in sensational form. His clipped, controlled finish for the first today was almost as sexy as the flick against Spurs. Almost. Look at it another way: had we bought Higuain and he’d scored four goals in four league games, including a derby winner, we’d be hailing him as the second coming. Which of course isn’t to say we shouldn’t have signed Higuain. Clearly we should have. But there aren’t many strikers in the league I’d swap Giroud for in his current form.
Mesut Ozil looks like quite a good football player
Bet you thought I’d forgotten. Without wanting the hype train to get out of hand too early… Choo choooooooooo! What a talent he is. Despite being subbed, he led the team with 34/38 passes completed in Sunderland’s final third, created most chances and completed most take-ons. Let’s hope Santi’s ankle mends soon, as the thought of them together is mouthwatering.
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- therightwayup said: Nice write up. Not sure if I would agree that we were lucky today though.
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