When you thought we’d hit rock bottom after Norwich, we managed to dig ourselves further into the ground against Schalke. That was the real rock bottom. We couldn’t dig any deeper. We slowly started to climb back up this hole we dug ourselves into. It was always going to be tough coming back climbing back up and reaching the surface, however, we got there, just.The team
Two familiar faces returned, much to the delight of the Arsenal faithful.
Jack Wilshere, who hadn’t played a league game for 17 months took his place in the centre of midfield and it really felt like he was never gone. Awesome stuff. He was out for that long, that the last time he was playing for us in a senior match, his midfield right hand men were Fabregas and Nasri. On Saturday he was joined by Cazorla and Arteta. In his own words:
“Yes, last time I played a Premier League game, I was playing with Fabregas, Nasri and Song. They’ve all moved on and so it’s like coming into a new team. But Mikel Arteta is a leader both on the pitch and off the pitch and he talked me through the game. And it’s a dream for any midfielder to link up with Santi Cazorla. Even the small things, like the pace of his passes, he just understands you and it’s good to play with.”
I think every Arsenal supporter is praying that Jack, Mikel and Santi all stay healthy, because the prospect of them three being fit in the centre of midfield is an exciting prospect to say the least. These three at their best will be unstoppable, and will not let the opposition see the ball. I really hope they can click together soon.
Then there was the return of Bacary Sagna. Great to see him back, but it is a bit harsh on Carl Jenkinson though, the lad has been sensational in Sagna’s absence, and it really didn’t feel like our first choice was gone. A bit of competition can only bring out the best in these two, and although Jenkinson may not play as much now with Sagna back, his performances are indirectly making Sagna take his game to another level and in turn helping the team as a whole. Compare this to Kieran Gibbs, who is under no pressure from an ordinary Andre Santos.
Giroud was preferred up front ahead of Gervinho, and this proved vital. Once again he didn’t get great service in this game, but when he did, he did what he does best, rose with a bullet header, which eventually led to Arteta’s winner. Arshavin’s assist was very good too, he is the forgotten man in the squad, but is showing glimpses here and there of what he can do. This is great to see, because having depth in the squad is important. Unlike others in the squad he hasn’t let a bad season deter him and looks determined to make it back in. I’m not saying he’ll bring back the days of 2009 again any time soon, but he is definitely starting to look like a useful option off of the bench, and as the saying goes, form is temporary, class is permanent. Don’t be surprised if he comes on one of these days and produces something special.
Stand out performer
The team as a whole stepped it up a level in this match. Too bad the level we were at after the Schalke game was well below par. We can’t expect to be excellent after what happened last week, not straight away anyay. The overall result was a decent performance, without setting the world alight. We created enough chances, without creating the clear cut chances required to kill off a team sitting at the bottom of the table. We eventually got our goal.
Wilshere will probably take out the plaudits here. Nobody really dominated but Wilshere did very well in his comeback. He has been out for so long, but made it look like he never left. Controlled the midfield well, composed on the ball, and completed nearly all passes attempted, brought a bit of calmness and spark to the midfield that was missing recently. He had a shot on goal too.
Areas of concern/The opposition
As discussed we huffed and puffed for so long without blowing the house down. I suppose it was too much to ask for us to play our slick sexy defence-splitting passes after the week we had, but we have a certain Manchester United next week, and if we want to entertain any thoughts of getting anything from Old Trafford, we must bring sexy back.
It wasn’t until their sending off that we scored, and whether or not we would have scored without that sending off is questionable. Obviously them losing their centre-back created havoc in their defence and allowed us to get closer to their goal. They also had a couple of decent attacks near the end and it could have easily been 1-1 if it weren’t for Mannone’s intervention. Let’s not forget these guys are at the bottom of the table. If we have any sort of ambition this season we need to raise our standards. People will say ‘a win is a win’, however this sort of performance will not yield a result against better teams.
Didn’t really turn up, and given the week we had I thought they could have done better. I find it hard to believe that a team with so much decent talent is still at the bottom of the table? Their sending off was needless and probably cost them the match.
The numbers game
5 – Arsenal shots in 90 minutes v. Schalke
1 – Arsenal shots on goal in 90 minutes v. Schalke
5 – Arsenal shots in the first 30 minutes v. QPR
3 – Arsenal shots on goal in the first 30 minutes v. QPR
22 – Arsenal shots v. QPR
9 – Arsenal shots on goal v. QPR
Really shows the difference, we were actually having a go this time.
As for Jack Wilshere:
66 mins played
44/47 passes completed
21/22 of these in the final third
1 shot on goal (which was on target)
1 shot created
“It was important not to make a mistake, and wait for our chance and take it. We were a bit lucky that they lost a player”
I have been crucifying Santos in the last week, and rightly so, but in this game, QPR did score but Santos learnt his lesson and stepped up and ensured they were offside. The midfield didn’t make many silly passes and lose the ball. The basic mistakes were gone in this game, but we’re still a long way from our best.
A midweek Capital One Cup game against Reading is coming up before the big one at Old Trafford. We must continue to improve and get out of this slump. Yesterday’s result at Stamford Bridge has closed the gap at the top to 7 points, which sounds so much better than 10, and with a long season to go, its important to pick up form, especially with Wilshere back. Its not over yet and we must believe next week at Old Trafford and bury those demons from that nightmare last year.
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