Sometimes, I don’t get the chance to watch games in their entirety. The perils and unsociable nature of my gainful employment are such that I’m at my busiest when Arsenal kick-off. Yesterday was an extremely good example of this; I missed the majority of the first have and caught fleeting glimpses of the second.
Writing a match review under such circumstances can be troublesome, so I find myself lurking around the internet hoping to find lengthy highlights. Then I’ve got to find the time to watch them, then get the time to write…
Point is, I even though it’s a chore, I make the effort.
*Cue rapturous applause, ticker-tape descending from the skies, shrieks of female adulation and appreciative nods from my peers at the unfathomable, glorious sacrifice I make to bring this drivel to you every day*
So….. The Arsenal.
The performance yesterday can be summed up with one word; professional. Middlesborough are a very good side and could have easily caused us difficulties had we not been 100% at the races. From the outset, we bossed the game and didn’t look at all in any danger.
It was an excellent team performance.
A few players stood out for me. Instead of recounting events you’ll have all seen umpteen times by now, I thought I’d write about who caught my eye and why.
Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla
The former is starting to find his form, the latter has well and truly found his. When the two play and are both on song, it is the football purists wet dream. Much has been made of Ozil since he joined Arsenal, but I’ve never taken it too seriously. It’s easy for the media to take pot shots at our record signing because it’ll attract attention, and those that write such articles have no other means of getting people to read their work.
I love him. He isn’t the type to pump fists, growl and show ‘passion’. He’s a quiet, shy, reserved kinda guy from what I can see. What matters is his ability. Watch him – watch him and see just how he glides, caressing the ball. Mesut rarely make the wrong choice with his distribution and his eye for a pass is second to none.
Hopefully, the signs are we’ll being seeing him fully settled and in form, and alongside the guile and twinkle-toed brilliance of Cazorla, that’ll be quite the sight to behold.
I thought this tweet from Timothy Stillman summed him up perfectly:
For someone who isn’t quite a top class striker, Giroud scores a lot of the sort of goal you’d associate with a top class striker.
— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) February 15, 2015
Like Ozil, Giroud has had his share of detractors, often unfairly comparing to those who played his position from Arsenal teams of old. He isn’t Thierry Henry, he isn’t Robin van Persie or Ian Wright. He is his own player. If judged on those merits, he’s an excellent player – valuable to the team becuase it is the team he puts first.
He took both his goals superbly, especially the conversion from Alexis’ corner which aptly demonstrated he has equally amounts of finesse to strength and hold-up play.
Making his debut, he didn’t put a foot wrong – if you chose to omit the yellow card he was given for what I’d describe as an understandable and necessary foul. Granted, he wasn’t exactly tested because of our dominance in possession, but what he did, he did looking very assured.
What was pleasing to see was the frequency with which he was given the ball by his teammates and his eagerness to receive it. Folks more knowledgeable than I stated his weakness is his passing, but I saw little evidence of that today. Perhaps when he finds himself under more pressure we’ll see his true colours, but the signs certainly appear favourable.
This might sound an odd choice as he played a little over 8 minutes of the game. However, I don’t feel I’ve adequately touched on how much I think he has a very bright future at Arsenal.
Arsene was willing to loan Sanogo and Podolski, and I would assume Akpom’s readiness had a great deal to do with that choice. It’s early days, but the kid looks like he has everything; he’s quick, good with the ball, strong and has an eye for goal. Ian Wright himself has said he’s an enormous fan and backs him to succeed at Arsenal.
Hopefully we’ll see him get more of an opportunity in the coming months than a brief 10 minutes here and there.
That’s about all I’ve got time for today, folks. The draw for the quarter finals is made later this evening. Who do you fancy we’ll get? Let me know in the comments section below – I’ve a sneaking suspicion we’re looking at a trip to Anfield in the next round.
I shall return with more tomorrow. Until then, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.