They say the “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up”. After the defeat at Bradford, we really had hit rock bottom. You can’t go much lower than a League Two side. It was hard enough for me as a supporter to believe after that, and after everything that has happened over the years. It is nice to know that the players have a deeper mental strength to respond and get themselves back up. This is only one game though, but it is only the start.
It was pleasing to finally see Theo Walcott get a start down the middle. He has made it no secret that that’s where we wants to play, I was wondering why it took so long! With Giroud out, and Gervinho having a shocker it was the perfect time for Walcott to fulfil his career move. It wasn’t all perfect though, in the first half he made a brillant run and got in behind their defence, something that he and us as supporters crave given his pace. He however, missed the one on one chance. Yes it was a good save from the keeper, but if Walcott wants to play as a striker, he must bury that chance. He did make amends later on to seal the victory, but all in all a decent debut as striker. Hopefully more starts like this will convince him to sign a new deal.
Special mentions must go to our midfield engine room and our left hand side. Cazorla and Wilshere were passing the ball so freely and finding the right pass time and again and in Cazorla’s case, finding the net, not once, not twice, but three times. Reading was poor I agree, but given how poor we’ve been in recent weeks, this was still a massive improvement from us. Gibbs and Podolski rekindled their wonderful understanding down the left hand side and played their part in some of the goals. It all seemed to work, and it was a much needed confidence booster.
Cazorla was definitely the man of the match, not least for his three goals, but his passing as well. He used both feet to maximum ability, not only for the goals, but in midfield too while passing it around. He took a few long range shots as well, which I think is very useful given our lack of cutting edge. If we had thought like Cazorla more against Bradford early on, instead of right at the end, I’m sure we could have won that game. It is wonderful to see him and Wilshere starting to peak. Cazorla especially looked tired during our bad run and it was no coincidence we were playing poorly. I can’t wait to see Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla really click and peak as a super midfield triumvirate. It will be just a joy to watch and I think against Reading we saw what they are capable of.
I still have concerns of the defence though. We were 4-0 up and it was suddenly 4-2, two silly goals, and I genuinely wasn’t surprised given what has happened in the past few weeks, and indeed, years. It ended well enough, but we shouldn’t paper over the cracks. Those two goals were unacceptable, and just because we scored 5, doesn’t mean can’t improve on the defensive side. We played a poor Reading side and a better side would punish us.
Overall it is great to see some improvement, but it means nothing if we can’t beat Wigan on Saturday. It is important to get some consistency, as well as improving squad depth so that players aren’t fatigued. I hope we can get a good quality striker in January.
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