Daily Archives: November 25, 2013
Southampton were the most in-form team in the Premier League before their encounter against Arsenal at the Emirates. The away side were renowned for their pressing game and it was on show yesterday, but the difference between the two sides wasn’t necessarily Arsenal’s class over their opponents but the Saints shot themselves with a series of ghastly errors that proved to be the difference between a draw and a loss.
Without further ado, here are the three major positives taken from the game from an Arsenal perspective.
Giroud’s All-Round Performance Deserved its Rewards
Replacing a world-class forward like Robin van Persie is no mean feat but Olivier Giroud has been on the spotlight since arriving from Montpellier least season. Even with his superb 17-goal haul last season, the fans weren’t still satisfied with his abilities and they lauded the manager in his pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez, even though they ended up being futile efforts.
However, Giroud had a good preseason and continued to silence his critics on a weekly basis but when he fired blanks in the tough games against Liverpool, Dortmund and Manchester United, Laurent Koscielny spoke about ‘fatigue’ being the potential cause and the fans continued to cry out for a new signing this winter.
Against Southampton, Giroud was all over the pitch, helping his team defensively winning aerial balls from corners, battling hard with Southampton’s center backs, linking up play with his attacking midfielders but his moment of grace appeared when he seized an opportunity in closing down Artur Boruc who bottled under the Frenchman’s pressure leaving Giroud with the chance of scoring his easiest Arsenal goal yet.
To crown a perfect night for the Frenchman, he stepped up the plate to dispatch a penalty after Per Mertesacker was tugged by Jose Fonte. This time last season, Giroud had scored a brace against Fulham and Andrey Arshavin was fouled in the box. When he was asked to take a penalty in the 90 minute with a chance to seal his first Arsenal hat-trick, Giroud fearfully declined the offer, an Mikel Arteta took it and of course, missed. This season, Giroud’s confidence is sky-high and this is the second penalty he has converted this season.
I’m happy his mini goal drought is over and I hope he can pick things up from here.
The Injury Returnees are Close to Full Fitness
When Arsenal visited Old Trafford a fortnight ago, some random evil bug sent from the very depths of Hell ravaged the squad and plenty players were affected, as Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky weren’t even fit enough to make the bench. Mesut Ozil and Serge Gnabry also had the bug and their performances – or at least, Ozil’s lethargic performance proved it. At that point in time, Theo Walcott was still nursing his abdominal injury and it was predicted that he would make his return after the international break.
Against Southampton, Mertesacker was fit enough to replace Thomas Vermaelen in the starting lineup and he even won a penalty for his team when Fonte tried to swap jerseys with him in the box. Arsene Wenger was also afforded the chance to bring on Walcott and Rosicky, and both players didn’t do badly in their cameo roles.
With Lukas Podolski and the Ox close to full fitness, Arsene Wenger will have a plethora of options to use as the season progresses, but it’s a shame that Mikel Arteta has joined the injury list. Thank Heavens for Mathieu Flamini though.
The Confidence Levels of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey
Giroud might have taken the plaudits for his brace against Southampton but the Gunners know that the score line would have been emphatic if two other amazing moments of brilliance connected well and Artur Boruc must be thankful for his posts are they saved his bacon twice.
Wilshere was at an acute angle when he attempted a deft chip that sailed over Boruc but clipped the post before the Pole smothered the ball in his second attempt. Ramsey’s own improvised chance was created by Mesut Ozil and he attempted a cheeky back heeled flick that beat Boruc but his the post.
These efforts were even attempted because of the confidence levels of these players. Aaron Ramsey is having his best ever goalscoring return as a professional footballer this season, while Jack Wilshere is getting back to his best following his struggles for fitness and form this season.
There were so many other positives taken from the game but these are my top three.
Feel free to share yours with your comments.
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